'Barbenheimer' Phenomenon Takes A Grip


Oppenheimer v Barbie

On the surface, the debate seems to not make any sense at all as the two films are entirely different in terms of tone, content, and style. One is a celebration of tacky, brightly-coloured, and ethereal pop culture, whilst the other is a gritty biopic of the man who created the only nuclear weapons ever used in warfare. This contrast, however, has only accelerated the ‘Barbenheimer’ sensation and it appears the meme is far more comical and tongue-in-cheek than it is serious. 

The releases of the films marked the most successful weekend of cinema-goers since 2019, when Avengers: Endgame came out and took the movie world by storm. The COVID pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have dealt a huge blow to the entertainment industry, and it seems as though more ‘Barbenheimers’ are the way forward if cinemas wish to get people back in their seats. 

Barbenheimer Effect

Such is the impact of ‘Barbenheimer’ that it’s beginning to develop a life of its own. A clever idea by Manchester City Council involved bins being equipped with two digital screens; one for Barbie and the other for Oppenheimer. As litter gets dumped into the respective sides, a point is scored for each film. The idea, capitalising on the craze, encourages people to dispose of their rubbish properly and vote for their preferred piece of cinema. Whoever came up with this idea deserves a pay rise - something needed if they wish to afford the snacks available in modern cinemas. 

The impact of the films isn’t limited to the UK, however, as the USA has seen economic growth over the past few weeks and the Bank of America have proposed that the increase in spending on entertainment and clothing is most likely due to the ‘Barbenheimer’ craze. 

By releasing two major films on the same day, as well as by embracing the memes and tribal-like debate that arose on social media, the sensation has given life to long-suffering cinemas. Streaming platforms threaten to drive cinemas to extinction and creative solutions must be drawn up to keep the 100-year tradition of going to the movies alive. 

For all the fun we’ve had debating which movie is better, let’s take a step back to release that we’re playing into the industry’s hands. The future of cinemas may hang in the balance in a few years time, but Barbenheimer has provided the shot in the arm it so desperately needed. 


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V: 1.22.0 All rights reserved. August 2021