The Unusual Double Feature: Barbie and Oppenheimer Films Premiering Together

Do you picture pink as the cheerful cotton candy shade that tinges Barbie’s Malibu skies at sunset? Or is it the color that casts an eerie shadow over the landscape’s ravaged ruins after a nuclear war?

That won’t simply be a dreamy thought experiment for moviegoers this month. On the same day in July, Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer both will have their theatrical debuts; the former is about Mattel’s California-cool toy doll come to life, and the latter is about the troubled physicist who assisted in the development of atomic weaponry.

The two films are obviously very different from one another. Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling (as Ken), competes at the box office with Christopher Nolan’s somber (and cinematically epic) nuclear spectacle Oppenheimer. Both films are predicted to perform at blockbuster levels as audiences choose their preferred summertime movie genre. Fans, meanwhile, are raving online about a fresh idea in moviegoing: Why not ride the entire thematic roller coaster at once and simply watch Barbie and Oppenheimer back-to-back… in the same theatre… and on the same day?

Memes praising the opportunity to do precisely that are circulating on social media as fans excited by the concept of an Oppenheimer/Barbie movie mash-up have started to sarcastically highlight the stark differences between the two films. The audience’s appetite for such a starkly contrasted double feature is not merely a specialised interest, according to The New York Times. The paper reports that searching for “Barbenheimer T-shirt” online “brings tens of thousands of results, and sellers on Etsy have designed their own versions” — some of which humorously contrast the frightening image of a spreading mushroom cloud with the bouncy pink “Barbie” emblem.

No studio can afford (or even truly prepare for) that kind of fan-powered viral marketing, but it has generated a rising tide of buzz prior to the premiere of the two films on 21 July. The two films are “so radically different,” according to Robert Mitchell, a film industry analyst, “that they allow for the narrative that popped up organically: This would be strangest double bill ever.” This attention-grabbing idea is “pretty much a gift for distributors,” he continued.

It’s no secret that many people are rearranging their calendars in order to attend an Oppenheimer and Barbie double-feature date, as anyone who has recently spent time on the entertainment-focused side of social media can attest. The devil, though, is in the details: Do you begin the day with Oppenheimer’s sobering ideas and then switch over to Barbie’s pink fantasy mode? Or do you view Barbie more as a calorie-dense appetizer that you blindly devour before the Oppenheimer main entrée fit for an IMAX theatre?

Which film should you start with? I must make decisions. It sounds more or less in keeping with the brand for a laid-back couple like Barbie and Ken when they have to deal with really difficult questions. But regardless of the arrangement you choose, make sure to include some trendy (and well-protected) sunglasses. They’re all the rage in Barbie’s world, and they’re unquestionably necessary equipment for seeing an intense nuclear explosion up close.

Oppenheimer, directed by Nolan and starring Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Rami Malek, opens in theatres on Thursday, July 21 with Barbie. Buy your tickets right here!

Share Post