Barbenheimer: which one are you watching first?


The Barbenheimer internet phenomena fan art made by @kristenkooster on Instagram

En Español: Barbenheimer: ¿Cuál verás primero?

On July 21, 2023, two of the most anticipated movies of the summer are coming to theaters,  Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig, and Oppenheimer by Cristopher Nolan. Both movies have high expectations and come from very talented directors. 

While being completely different, both with A-list casts, the same-day premieres have made the internet come up with the name Barbenheimer for this event. Many fans of the cinema are debating which one to watch first - both on the same day. AMC said this week that 40,000 moviegoers already bought tickets to see both films on the same day — double the number it reported last week.

Even people in the Stateline are debating which movie to watch first. Both films are playing together at AMC Machesney Park 14 and Classic Cinemas Beloit. When asked at the movie theaters, Hononegah Community High School students Dalton Fleming, Noah Westin, and Allison Bunting said they would watch Barbie first, while Kayla Tubbs, Nathan Vorster, and Elisa Ramirez will be watching Oppenheimer first.

While Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence, this movie has a different take on the most iconic doll. Since its initial release back in March 1959, she became the first mass-produced toy doll in the U.S. with adult features and became an idol with over 250 careers. Now she has to decide between staying in her perfect life or knowing the truth about the real world. 

Oppenheimer follows the story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb. The three-hour-long movie by the critically acclaimed director Cristopher Nolan, who recently confirmed that this movie does not have any CGI, "brilliantly charts the turbulent life of the American theoretical physicist" who once had the faith of the world in his hands.

The Barbenheimmer fever of the internet led to various creations by fans of both movies, making up new trailers using AI that combined the two movies, making videos of themselves changing their clothes after one movie to watch the other, and posting them on social media. Some are printing Barbenheimer T-shirts and scheduling their entire days around a Barbie-Oppenheimer double feature.

"I've been in the business of tracking and analyzing box office trends and movies for 30 years now, and I've never quite seen anything like this," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told IGN.

The movie stars of both movies are also playing into this. Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer's lead actor, said in an interview, "I think it's great. I mean, I'll be going to see Barbie. I can't wait to see it.”

This is not the first time two movies with high expectations (and totally different moods) have been released. Back in 2013, Catching Fire (from the Hunger Games) and Frozen were released on November 22. The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! were released on July 18, 2008. Ghostbusters and Gremlins were also released on June 8, 1984. But this is the first time people, with the help of the internet, have been anticipating the event for months. 

Both movies have cultural significance and connect to the past experiences of different generations. Older generations will remember what it was like to live under the threat of a nuclear war. Younger generations grew up with aspirations to be like Barbie. Both movies recall significant historical events that have shaped humanity. 

The suggested way to watch these movies (if you're watching them the same day) is to watch Oppenheimer first, take it all in, and get the heavier load out of the way (after all it is three hours long). After that, Barbie should be something fun and light to take off your mind the idea off one of the biggest threats to mankind. 

Click, tap, or swipe on the image below for a compilation of some fan art circulating across social media:

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Director Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie (Barbie) posing with their tickets for Oppenheimer
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