The summer of 2023 will forever be etched in the annals of cinema history as the season of the 'Barbenheimer' phenomenon. On July 21, two blockbusters, 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer', hit the screens simultaneously, a move that would usually spell disaster in the fiercely competitive film industry. However, this time, the clash resulted in an unexpected cultural phenomenon, with both films not only surviving but thriving, and a new term was coined - 'Barbenheimer'.
A Surprise Summer Success
'Barbie', directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, grossed over $1.4 billion globally, emerging as the highest-grossing film of 2023 and Warner Bros.' biggest movie ever. Its counterpart, 'Oppenheimer', directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Cillian Murphy, also held its own, exceeding $953 million in global earnings. The success of these films, however, is about more than just the numbers. As Robbie and Murphy recently explained during Variety's 'Actors on Actors' talk show, the phenomenon was largely unchoreographed and organic, making it all the more remarkable.
Behind the Scenes
During the interview, Robbie, dressed in a bright pink polka dot blazer to reflect her character in 'Barbie', revealed that a producer for 'Oppenheimer' initially tried to convince her to move the opening date for 'Barbie'. Despite the suggestion, Robbie, also a producer of 'Barbie', stood her ground, resulting in the simultaneous release. Murphy, in stark contrast, donned black attire, mirroring the historical and somewhat somber theme of 'Oppenheimer'. He shared that Nolan had always favored a summer release, considering it an ideal slot for a blockbuster, regardless of its theme.
Cultural Impact and Future Endeavors
The pair also discussed their experience with memes and internet culture, with Murphy acknowledging his awareness due to his teenage sons. They also touched on possible future projects, including the potential of Murphy reprising his role as Tommy Shelby from 'Peaky Blinders'. The conversation painted a picture of two successful actors not just basking in the glory of their triumph but also reflecting on the cultural impact of their work and looking ahead to the future.