Barbie’s designer made missiles for Raytheon first as ‘Barbenheimer’ rocks box offices


The first Barbie Doll from 1959 is displayed at the interactive exhibition “The World of Barbie” on June 28, 2023, at Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, California.

Robyn Beck | Afp | Getty Images

A weapons engineer turned doll maker is the unexpected link to “Barbenheimer,” the affectionately dubbed duo from Warner Bros.′ “Barbie” and Universal’s “Oppenheimer.”

The unlikely back-to-back summer marquee titles opened Friday following weeks of mania harping on the dissimilarities of the two films — the whimsical and rosy world of “Barbie” alongside “Oppenheimer,” the extraordinary story of the American physicist who brought the world into the atomic age.

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And yet, the Barbie doll comes from a weapons background.

Before designing the world’s most famous doll, Jack Ryan worked for aerospace giant Raytheon and helped create the weapons that formed the backbone of America’s missile defense.

Ryan, a Yale-educated engineer, helped create the Sparrow and Hawk missiles, which laid the groundwork for the Patriot missile system, one of the most advanced air defense weapons in America’s arsenal.

Following his work in the arms business, Ryan went to Mattel, where he ascended to vice president of research and design for the toy manufacturer.

On July 24, 1959, Ryan filed a U.S. patent detailing his concept for what would later become the world’s most recognizable toy doll. Ryan was granted the patent for “doll construction” in November 1961. He is also credited with creating toys like Chatty Cathy and the Hot Wheels collection.

The patent for the first Barbie ever produced from the collection of Sid and Alicia Belzberg.

James Leynse | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Before his death in 1991 at the age of 65, Ryan had accumulated more than 1,000 patents on his designs.

Meanwhile, movie theaters are indicating strong ticket sales for “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” and have been adding additional showings to accommodate growing demand.

“Barbie” has already tallied $22.3 million at the domestic box office from Thursday night previews, on its way to at least $140 million for the full weekend. “Oppenheimer” snared $10.5 million Thursday, looking at $60 million for the weekend.

Read more: ‘Barbenheimer’ gets off to a hot start with $32.8 million in combined Thursday sales

What’s more, the two films together are likely to generate more than $200 million over the next few days and are expected to lead to the highest-grossing weekend of the year so far at the box office, with some analysts suggesting the weekend could top $300 million with additional sales from “Mission Impossible,” “Sound of Freedom” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

More than 200,000 people bought tickets for Oppenheimer-Barbie double feature



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