Barbenheimer was one of the top pop culture stories of 2023, an oddball situation where Greta Gerwig’s pink-plastered Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s epic biopic Oppenheimer were released on the same day. Whether you were Team Mattel or Team Atomic Bomb — or both! — an astounding number of people turned up at the cinema to capture the many moods of the summer. And we may have Margot Robbie to thank.
As Barbie star Margot Robbie told J. Robert Oppenheimer portrayer Cillian Murphy in a recent sitdown, “One of your producers, Chuck Roven, called me, because we worked together on some other projects…And he was like, ‘I think you guys should move your date.’ And I was like, ‘We’re not moving our date. If you’re scared to be up against us, then you move your date.’ And he’s like, ‘We’re not moving our date. I just think it’d be better for you to move.’ And I was like, ‘We’re not moving!’”
As such, both Barbie and Oppenheimer hit the big screen (some bigger than others…) on July 21st, eventually pushing the dueling movies to nearly $2.4 billion worldwide. On this front, only The Super Mario Bros. Movie came between them, helping make 2023 a wildly profitable year. As Murphy told Robbie, “That summer, there was a huge diversity of stuff in the cinema, and I think [Barbenheimer] just connected in a way that you or I or the studios or anybody could never have predicted.”
The clashing aesthetics of Barbie and Oppenheimer no doubt made for plenty of fun for audiences, who took full advantage of this genuine lighting in a bottle. Sure, we could have tried to shoehorn in some Saw X / Paw Patrol memes back in September, but it wouldn’t have been organic. Barbenheimer was the sort of phenomenon that will make year-end recap lists of the biggest moments of 2023, entertainment or not. Didn’t see that happening when The Notebook and Fahrenheit 9/11 opened on the same day!
Thankfully we live in a world where both Barbie and Oppenheimer can co-exist, but if you had to pick, which side are you on? Let us know below!