Barbie and Oppenheimer: A race for the box office lead


Lola Burns

The highly anticipated 2023 movie releases, Barbie and Oppenheimer, hit theaters on the same day, leaving film lovers at a loss of which movie to watch first on their shared opening night.

Ruby Jenkins, Writer

A pink, glitter-filled town run by Barbie and Ken, versus the dark past of human history and war. Yet, their common audience is torn on which to see first. Two of the most highly anticipated movies of the last few years are being released on the same weekend, let alone the same day. Barbie and Oppenheimer, both with stacked casts of A-list actors, are coming out on July 21, 2023. The question is: Which will you be seeing first?

Cillian Murphy is often casted in very dark movies and television shows, with Oppenheimer being his most twisted film yet. The film is said to be more then three hours long, but it will keep watchers glued to their seats the entire time. (IMDb)

The debate of seeing Oppenheimer or Barbie has been a topic of discussion, mainly on TikTok, for quite some time now. The main pulling factor of the two movies are their extensive casts. Oppenheimer is stacked with favorite well-known actors like Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt. In contrast, Barbie has big yet newer actors such as Margot Robbie, Emma Mackey and Nicola Coughlan. Although the audience for the movies may be similar, the subject matter discussed is certainly different.

Oppenheimer follows the historical events leading up to the creation of the atomic bomb. J Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) was an American theoretical physicist who is credited as “the father of the atomic bomb.” He, along with a group of other scientists during World War II, were a part of the Manhattan Project. This group created the bomb that killed millions and taunted the world for years to come. The film itself is based on the 2005 novel, “American Prometheus” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, being directed by Christopher Nolan, known for his incredible and award-winning films like “Interstellar,” “Dunkirk” and “Memento.

On the other hand, Barbie is directed by Great Gerwig, another highly awarded filmmaker. Her other films include “Lady Bird” and “Little Women,” both of which are critically acclaimed coming-of-age films. Her newest project follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) in her attempt to get out of “Barbie Land” and find the real world. She plays alongside Ryan Gosling as Ken who has the perfect comedic timing and look for the character. The film is a modern twist on a doll that everyone knows and loves. Gerwig chose to turn this favorite toy into a story similar to “The Truman Show,” which is an unexpected choice, but one many ended up loving by the first trailer. 

Every film adaptation of the beloved doll have shown Ken in a ditsy manner. Thankfully, this film is no different. Gosling’s comedic timing was questioned when word of him being casted was going around but the public was pleasantly surprised after set photos and trailers were released. Gosling and Robbie play the perfect Barbie/Ken relationship as seen above. (IMDb)

Both of these incredible films and casts are great for the movie world, but horrible for film lovers wondering which movie to see first. Unfortunately for Oppenheimer, the general consensus seems to be that most will be seeing Barbie first. TikTok creators and commenters alike are saying things like “Barbie first and then maybe Oppenheimer if I have time left”. Although the comments are mainly jokes, there is still a lot of truth to them. For those wanting to see both, some are suggesting a “Barbiheimer” double feature consisting of a back-to-back watch, though this concept would take almost five hours in a crowded theatre. 

As an avid Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie lover, I will be seeing Barbie first. From the cast to the general aesthetic, I’ve been hooked since it was first announced. Although I may be more excited for Barbie, I do plan on seeing Oppenheimer directly after. Who doesn’t love a movie marathon consisting of pink dolls and nuclear warfare? Although the subject matter of the latter may not be as uplifting as most would want to see, the cast alone is a draw that Barbie doesn’t necessarily have. The group of actors in Oppenheimer is so stacked to the point where some are concerned that it is only going to be simply a cameo competition. Having a good cast doesn’t mean the movie will be good, this has been especially shown in recent movies like “Spiderhead” or “Strange World.” 

Whether you plan on seeing Barbie or Oppenheimer this summer, there is no going wrong. No one is sure which one will take the box office lead, but one thing is for sure, both of these movies will have plenty of fans and watchers hoping to choose their personal favorite.

Which movie do you plan on seeing first?


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