Audiences Don’t Crave IP. They Want Originality

The massive preview grosses for “Barbie”, “Oppenheimer” and even “Sound of Freedom” are gamechangers.

“Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery), with a 3 p.m. start and shorter running time, took in $22.3 million. “Oppenheimer” (Universal), which began at 5 p.m., runs three hours; it benefits from higher-priced premium tickets while being limited by lesser total capacity. It grossed $10.5 million.

Results like these beg for hyperboles, and deserve them. However, focusing on the eye-popping numbers risks missing an even bigger point: Audiences are stating, in no uncertain terms, that IP and connected universes and sequels are not going to save theaters. The secret lies in investing in risky projects based on compelling ideas that challenge filmmakers and their audiences.

Fans of “Sound of Freedom,” the independently released child-trafficking story that’s now grossed over $100 million in just over two weeks, might beg to differ. (Metascore: 43.) It too is original and while it has little in common with “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer,” it shares a key to success: Don’t rehash past hits

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