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Barbenheimer: Bombshells at the box office

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

By Lauren Wilson Sept. 28, 2023

Cinemas hit their 4th highest-grossing weekend this summer, after raising a whopping $300 million from the same-day release of two polar opposite films: “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” Despite major differences between the themes and styles of both films, many fans made comparisons between the two because of their coincident release, giving rise to the “Barbenheimer” trend.

Catherine Nguyen art

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” follows the experiences of Margot Robbie’s titular character as she exits her fantasy doll land and enters the real world, presenting a coming of age story that promotes themes of feminism. In contrast to “Barbie’s” bright pink cinematography, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” centers Cillian Murphy as the eponymous scientist, who struggles with the conflicts of war and internal turmoil while developing a deadly weapon that could lead to mass genocide.

Initially, the marketing for “Barbie” included promotion on TikTok, the release of a Warner Bros. style teaser along with a classic bright pink “Barbie” doll theme that, as production designer Sarah Greenwood claimed, caused a global shortage of fluorescent fuchsia paint. On the other hand, “Oppenheimer” caught the attention of several viewers through its critically acclaimed cast and director.

The tremendous popularity of the two movies resulted in substantial internet discourse. On social media, fans debated which movie to watch first; countless memes and trends related to the movies proliferated. However, according to Vox Media, many are concerned that the comparisons between the two films removed the individual appeal of each and diminished their individual messages. The feminist themes of “Barbie” have also sparked significant controversy, with many individuals claiming that the movie was “man-hating” and inappropriate for younger audiences.

“I prefer ‘Oppenheimer’ over ‘Barbie’ because of its darker themes and slower-paced plot explaining historical events. The controversy that spiked around ‘Barbie’ is rooted from its biased themes that only represented women. It would have been better if it was not so politically motivated and focused on the doll instead,” Freshman Gabriel Pastora said.

Although “Barbie” earned higher revenue than “Oppenheimer,” both movies were well received by critics, acquiring positive reviews. To showcase their enthusiasm for the films, many viewers wore pink clothes to the theaters for “Barbie,” while some wore blazers to “Oppenheimer.”

“I preferred ‘Barbie’ over ‘Oppenheimer’ because the message was more meaningful to my own experiences. I enjoyed wearing pink in theaters in honor of the iconic color scheme in ‘Barbie,’” Senior Yunnah Moon said.

Fueled by creative internet trends and “Barbenheimer” fervor, both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” captivated viewers and created an enduring impact on the film industry with their unique stories.


About the contributors

Lauren Wilson

staff writer

Lauren Wilson is a Junior at Leland High School and is the Last Word and Investigative Report Page-Editor for The Charger Account. She enjoys to volunteer with animals and do cheer.

Catherine Nguyen

staff writer and artist

Both a writer and an artist for The Charger Account, Catherine Nguyen is a freshman who likes drawing, baking, and taekwondo!

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