Barbie vs Oppenheimer

Two anticipated movie events will go head to head at the box office.

This summer, two of the biggest and most acclaimed directors in Hollywood are releasing some of the most highly anticipated films of the past couple years. Both films have massive budgets, all-star casts, and are expecting flocks of people to see the spectacles on the big screen. 

The first film is Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, an epic biopic that will chronicle the fascinating life of the man who created the deadliest weapon in history — the Atomic Bomb. The other is Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, a comic take on the famed brand that touts colorful visuals and a Truman Show-esque plot.

Both seem like obvious hits that will dominate the box office when they are released. The catch? Barbie and Oppenheimer release on the same day — July 21.

Usually the box office winner on a given weekend will be obvious, but the weekend of July 21 is anyone’s game. Christopher Nolan, director and writer of Oppenheimer, has a track record full of box office success and critical acclaim, so there is no reason to think anything different will occur with his new film. But will general audiences want to sit in a theater for three hours to watch a biopic about a historical figure that passed long before their time?

Meanwhile, Greta Gerwig, the director of Barbie, also has a track record of great critical acclaim, but unlike Nolan, her films thus far have not performed particularly well at the box office. This would be a possible red flag if it weren’t for the fact that Barbie is one of the most marketable brands in history. If there’s any source material that will guarantee money to be made, Barbie would be near the top of the list.

With all of these factors in consideration, predicting the film that will rise to the top is close to impossible. But this brings up the real question on filmgoer’s minds: “Which one should I rush to the theater to see first?”

Obviously, if one of these two movies ends up being a critical disaster then audiences will likely avoid it, but given how talented both Gerwig and Nolan are, that outcome is unlikely. At the end of the day, this will primarily be a battle of gender. The men (especially the straight men) will likely turn out in droves for Oppenheimer, and women of all sexual orientations will likely be clamoring to see Barbie

 As far as which film will actually be the one more worth seeing, it is anyone’s guess. The easy prediction would be Oppenheimer, as Nolan’s films usually quickly earn “all-time classic” status among avid filmgoers and always provide an immersive IMAX experience. But this prediction doesn’t take into account the promotional material being released, a factor which plays heavily into Barbie’s favor.

The recent trailer for Greta Gerwig’s campy, colorful film promises a hilarious experience with feminist undertones and memorable performances from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Gosling’s line delivery for a certain scene in the trailer is being praised by Twitter and TikTok stan accounts, and the design of the character posters is being used as a meme template for Internet users everywhere. The viral appeal of Barbie is taking over social media platforms, and is a good indicator of the interest it will have come release day.

The Barbie meme format takes social media by storm.

With the cultural indicators we are currently seeing, the best guess will be that Barbie will take the weekend. Both film enthusiasts and casual filmgoers are expressing excitement for Gerwig’s film, and Oppenheimer has failed to attract the same amount of positive publicity. This isn’t to say that Nolan’s film will fail or lose money, but competing with Barbie may end up being a mistake for Universal, the studio behind Oppenheimer. It is no small feat to best a big-budget Nolan film at the box office, which proves that this summer, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is on the way to being one of the pop-culture events of the summer.

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