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HA Reviews: "Barbenheimer"

Both Oppenheimer and the Barbie came out July 21st, 2023. Prior to the release of these two movies, “Barbenheimer'' posts began to populate. The word is a mix of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”. It started as a joke about an apparent Hollywood race as actors were being cast in Universal’s Oppenheimer and Warner Brothers’ Barbie at a rapid pace.

The two films were released at the same time on purpose. Instead of people picking sides, many suggested watching both movies back-to-back, in the same sitting at the theater, even debating the best order to watch them. However, not everyone saw the two as equals. Some see this double release as a battle rather than a double treat.

This craze resulted in millions around the world watching Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day and fans showing up dressed in all pink, for Barbie, or all black, for Oppenheimer—filling theaters, making a sensational event out of moviegoing.

“Barbenheimer'' used a tactic where different kinds of movies are released on the same day to attract different audiences. Universal used this strategy in 2002 when they released the light-hearted movie About a Boy at the same time as Star Wars: Episode II.

Both movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer, were big hits with critics and did better than expected. Initially, people joked about how different the two films were. But some noticed similarities. Both movies look into significant life questions and ideas about the human impact on Earth. Each movie had award-nominated directors and writers.

However, if you were to compare the movies, who would win?

Based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings, Oppenheimer slightly beats Barbie, with a 93% score as opposed to Barbie’s 88%. With audience reception scores, the same can be said with Barbie at 83% and Oppenheimer at 91%. The difference is not profound, but Oppenheimer holds a slight edge over Barbie.

Based on the fashion dolls by Mattel, Barbie is the first live-action film after numerous computer-animated films. The film stars Margot Robbie as the main character, Barbie, and Ryan Gosling as Ken, and follows the pair on a journey of self-discovery following an existential crisis, while Oppenheimer is based on physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who, in 1942, during World War II, was recruited by army General Leslie Groves to lead the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb. Oppenheimer was driven by the fear that the Nazis would complete their nuclear weapons program first.

Both films had some hurdles to overcome when it came to getting audiences on their side. Oppenheimer focused on a man responsible for the horrific deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, while Barbie focused on feminism.

Both Barbie and Oppenheimer have been successful with their audiences, even though they differ in reviews and earnings. With their success, they'll surely influence the movie industry.

By: Miriam Cohen (11th)

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