The Barbenheimer Battle│Alex Green, Heathside

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is her first release as a director since her 2019 film adaptation of Little Women, starring Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, and Emma Watson. Received well by critics, it was a hit at the box office and was nominated for six Oscars. After taking a break from directing to star in Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, she’s back directing a film which is gaining a surprising amount of traction on social media. The cast of Barbie aren’t taking themselves or the film itself too seriously; instead, they seem to be recognising the hilarious ridiculousness of it.

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer could not be more opposite in tone. Christopher Nolan directs his first film since 2020’s Tenet, a film which did surprisingly – and deservedly – well, in spite of its pandemic release. Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and Emily Blunt all star in Nolan’s biographical film on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, often credited as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the Manhattan Project. A whopping three hours long, Nolan says that preview audiences have left screenings of his film “absolutely devastated” and testifies that the film carries a “complicated” ending similar to that of Inception.

On the marketing front, Barbie naturally seems to be taking the helm so far. However, with the impending releases of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie’s marketing team may exhaust itself before its release on 21st July. One could argue, however, that the nature of Barbie and its social media domination means that the marketing team has an easy time of it. On the other hand, the marketing team of Oppenheimer must work a little bit harder to match the press that Barbie is receiving. Either way, both films are undeniably relying their respective successes on star power, meaning it’s hard to predict which will conquer the other at the box office. Let’s see how this plays out.

Barbie and Oppenheimer are both in cinemas from 21st July.

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