Barbie, The Haunted Mansion, and Oppenheimer collage. Images courtesy of

Films Overlooked During the “Barbenheimer” Reign

The Barbie and Oppenheimer reign may finally come to an end… I think. After a month-long promotion of the two films, the “Barbenheimer” craze swept social media into a frenzy. The two contrasting films dominated the box office, bringing significant business back into the theaters after its long dry season. To this day, if you type in Barbie in the Google search bar, Google gives off a pink hue.

Content creators dressed up in their best Barbie Outfits pairing their reels with Nicki Minaj’s feat. Ice Spice’s rendition of “Barbie World.” In addition, there existed an exciting cross-over into the promotion of Oppenheimer that yielded a little backlash. However, that did not stop the two movies from tearing down the box office. According to Variety Magazine, Barbie has brought in approximately 1 billion worldwide, and Oppenheimer brought in 602 Million globally. Oppenheimer fell slightly into the shadows of the Barbie World but maintained a significant stance.

After much promotion, tik tok videos, and Instagram reels, I forgot there were other films in the theater. Here is a list of films overlooked during Barbenheimer’s Reign.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One 

You’ve been sleeping under a rock if you do not know the Mission: Impossible franchise. Tom Cruise has dominated the Role of Ethan Hunt since 1996 after Mission: Impossible’s first film release. Since then, every few years, we have been wowed by Tom Cruises’ ability to hang from helicopters and fly across buildings as an actual stuntman.

This 2023 film takes no surprises as Ethan Hunt and his team of IMF agents track down a dangerous weapon and stop it from being misused. Though we love a good action-packed movie, Mission: Impossible fell a little to the waste side this year. There is no denying those die-hard fans continued their consistent support of the film franchise.

However, the seventh installment, Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning, Part One, grossed only half a billion in revenue, at 522 million worldwide. That is approximately 269 million less than their sixth installment, Mission: Impossible-Fallout, which earned roughly 792 million globally. Is it time to end the multi-decade franchise, or was it just bad timing? You may have to make that call for yourself. If you have not seen the new installment, there is still time to catch the film in your local theater.

The Haunted Mansion 

One of my childhood’s fondest memories included watching the 2003 version of The Haunted Mansion with the Evers Family, Eddie Murphy, Marsha Thomason as Jim and Sara Evers, and Jennifer Tilly as Madam Leota. As the film premieres 20 years after the original, I was filled with a sense of nostalgia, but with a twist of modernity.

The Haunted Mansion is relatively new at the box office and has time to redeem itself. As for their opening week, both films brought in approximately 24 million in 2003 and 2023. However, if released outside of the Barbenheimer reign and in the fall season, I believe The Haunted Mansion would’ve had a better outcome. The film takes on a different story where a single mother purchases a haunted house and hires Ben Matthias, played by Lakeith Stanfield, a widowed scientist, to help her get rid of the ghost and protect her son.

While both stories have identical symbolic meanings of family and relationships, the 2023 version focuses on forgiveness and tragedy. It is a very compelling storyline and has a star-studded cast with Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, and Danny Devito, to name a few. This film is worth the watch. You can also find The Haunted Mansion in your local theater. 

Insidious: The Red Door 

Insidious is another franchise that snuck under the radar during the Barbenheimer reign. Though I saw little promotion for the 5th installment, Insidious: The Red Door did well at the box office, taking in approximately 182.5 million in revenue worldwide. According to, this will make it the highest-grossing horror film in 2023, passing Blumhouse’s other film M3GAN which produced 180 million worldwide.

Wilson’s directorial debut is a tremendous success, becoming the most successful film in the franchise’s 13 years. Insidious: The Red Door, In contrast to other films that were released closer to the Barbenheimer era, accumulated a better opening week, releasing on July 7, 2023. The Movie stars Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, and Rose Bryne as a continuation of the previous installment, Insidious: The Last Key.

After being hypnotized ten years prior, Josh and Dalton are now distant after an argument between the two. Renai Lambert, now divorced, influences Josh to take Dalton to his University. Things do not go as planned, resulting in a big argument leaving the two on bad terms. During his time at school, Dalton is asked by his professor to dig deep into his inner fears, in response Dalton opens a red door and is now haunted by his demons. 

Joy Ride

Joy Ride is a comedy about four Asian American friends who take on an international excursion that does not go as intended. The story follows two best friends, Audrey and Lolo. Audrey, who grew up with foster parents, is searching for her birth mother. She invites her childhood friend Lolo, her former roommate Kat and Lolo’s cousin Deadeye to travel along. After discovering her birth mother’s location, the girls are confronted with a dangerous encounter with a drug dealer.

The trip to find Audrey’s mother turns into an unconventional journey with much self-discovery and bonding. Joy Ride, released on July 7, 2023, brought in approximately 14 million worldwide and was directed by Adem Lim, the co-writer of Crazy Rich Asians.

I wish Joy Ride received more notoriety domestically as it shows a hilarious yet important message about finding cultural identity. This film is no longer in theaters just one month after its release.  However, you are able to watch the film on selected streaming services. Joy Ride would’ve done tremendously better if released in a different month from the Barbenheimer fiasco.  

Sounds of Freedom

The controversial film received a lot of unsolicited publicity from social media, which either questioned its accuracy or praised its bravery. Outside Barbenheimer’s reign, Sounds of Freedom quietly rose to the top and ranked #3 at the box office. Sounds of Freedom is a film based on the real-life interactions of Tim Ballard during operation stings as a former agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This movie is an informational tool highlighting the prominent issue of human tracking. Ballard tells real stories through real-life encounters but with fictional characters in the film and follows the rescue of a young boy and girl trafficked from Colombia. The narrative caused a lot of controversy from experts, according to Some state that the movie does not accurately depict the realness of human trafficking. While it is true that some victims are aggressively kidnapped by strangers, it is more common to be kidnapped by someone you know. Victims tend to be abducted through manipulation by parents or even partners. They argued the inaccuracy and misinformation of the film that would confuse its viewers.

However, Ballard does tell the story of his reality. Tik Tokers share their difficulty in seeing the film. Some theaters could not play the movie due to technical challenges, while others stated that online showed the theater to be fully booked but were completely empty when they went in person. Relatively true or not, this film definitely has a lot of controversy behind it and is worth watching if you can. Sounds of Freedom quietly brought in approximately 172 million worldwide, surpassing Mission: Impossible -Dead Reckoning, Part One. 

That Was A Close One!

Here are a few films that missed the Barbenheimer reign premiering one week after Barbie’s and Oppenheimer’s release date, July 21. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael take on the quest to be the defenders of New York City. These pizza-loving ninja turtles are on an exploration to fight other mutants across the city. Releasing August 2, 2023, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem reportedly did well for their first weekend at the box office. According to, the movie has grossed 94.6 million as of August 13, 2023, and is predicted to continue its revenue this coming weekend.

The cast includes Micah Abbey as Donatello, Shaman Brown Jr. as Michelangelo, Nicholas Cantu as Leonardo, and Brady Noon as Raphael. The cartoon adaptation stars celebrities such as Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd, and so on. According to, 96% of viewers prefer the cartoon adaptation rather than the live actions previously released.

Meg 2:The Trench

Five years in the making, Meg 2 was released on August 3, 2023, as the second installment to the franchise. After discovering colossal Megs during an expedition, their voyages take a turn for the worse. Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor and Jing Wu as Jiuming Zahng find themselves fighting for their lives as they attempt to save humanity from the massive invasion. Since its opening weekend, Meg 2 has grossed 258 million worldwide in just its first weekend and is predicted to do well over the following weekend. It is safe to say Meg 2 is out the Barbenheimer’s limelight.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter 

It must be horror season because the high-suspense films continue to roll in. The Last Voyage of the Demeter stars Corey Hawkins as Clemens, Aisling Franciosi as Anna, Liam Cunningham as Captain Elliot, and Javier Botet as Conde Dracula. The film entails the voyage of Demeter and his quest to carry 24 unmarked wooden crates to London from Carpathia. The voyage sets sail, encounters severe obstacles along the way, and is haunted by a mysterious presence on the ship. When the boat had made its way partially to shore by the Whitby Harbour, the crew was no longer on board.

This horror film is an adaptation of the 1987 novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. This film is one of the newest releases, premiering on August 13, 2023. So far, the movie has grossed 6 million in revenue before its official box office weekend. 


If you have not watched any of these films yet, I implore you to venture outside of the Barbenheimer craze and try something different for your next movie outing.

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