It’s a Barbenheimer world

Two of the year’s biggest films, Oppenheimer (about the father of the atomic bomb) and Barbie (about, well, Barbie), are out in theatres and making for an unlikely double feature.

Driving the news: Cineplex reported that, as of Wednesday, 60,000 Canadians had bought advanced tickets for both films, with 65% of buyers planning to watch them on the same day.  

Why it’s happening: The challenge, dubbed Barbenheimer, is the result of months of memes and mashups as the internet lost its freaking mind (as it often does) over the fact that two huge films, both so radically different in tone, were going head-to-head at the box office.

  • A survey by United Talent Agency IQ found that two-thirds of Gen Z’ers and millennials interested in seeing Barbie cited the memes as a motivating factor. 

The hype was pushed into overdrive thanks to relentless marketing campaigns, particularly for Barbie, which included promotional tie-ins with everything from fashion brands (makes sense) to Burger King (...sure). 

Why it matters: Perhaps Barbenheimer feels like such a big deal because two blockbuster movies aimed at adult audiences released on the same weekend just isn’t a thing anymore. 

Zoom out: Folks, the movies are officially back…to pre-pandemic levels, at least. Cineplex reported that June box office revenues were 98% of what they were in June 2019, despite disappointing performances from major flicks like Elemental and The Flash. With Barbenheimer projected to do gangbusters, Cineplex is poised to exceed 2019 levels in July.

Yes, but: Looking past July, things get murky. Barbenheimer blew up thanks in part to marathon cast press tours, something that won’t be possible as long as the actors’ strike persists.—QH