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Welcome to the Barbenheimerverse!

Breaking Down the Summer’s Big Blockbusters

Another instance of a double feature movie release has reached theaters all over the world, following its predecessors like the release of Dark Night vs. Mamma Mia in 2008, and The Matrix vs. 10 Things I Hate About You in 1999. In 2023, we have two new box-office hits: Barbie and Oppenheimer. The dichotomy of these two films sent the Internet into a frenzy, starting out as a meme before turning into the summer phenomenon we now know as Barbenheimer. And we’re here to tell you all about it!

Facts About Barbie
While building the iconic Barbieland in London, the film’s set designers used so much of a fluorescent fuchsia shade of pink, that it contributed to an international shortage. This specific shade was manufactured by the paint company Rosco, which is headquartered locally in Stamford! The paint was definitely put to good use, seen through the dazzling and gorgeous Barbie dream houses in the film.

No movie is complete without good music. The film’s incredible soundtrack features some big names, such as Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Billie Eilish, and more. There’s even a song sung by Ryan Gosling. Here are some of my personal favorites: “Dance the Night” by Dua Lipa, “Barbie World” by Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice, “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish.

Barbie is also loaded with Easter eggs! Whether it’s your first time watching, or your third (like me), there’s always something new to look out for. For example, the film features many actual discontinued Mattel dolls, such as Allan, Ken’s best friend, and Midge, Barbie’s pregnant best friend. Another hidden treasure in the movie is that the film’s sentimental ending montage is actual footage from the cast and crew and their families. Finally, many classics are referenced throughout the movie, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, and The Matrix. See if you can spot any of these hidden gems next time you watch!

Facts About Oppenheimer
Despite the powerful visual in the movie, Oppenheimer did not use CGI to recreate the atomic blast. Director Christopher Nolan felt that the explosion would be more realistic and terrifying without CGI. They used forced perspective and a combination of gasoline, propane, aluminum powder, and magnesium. To film the explosion, they employed long shutter speeds, short shutter speeds, wide negative color, negative overexposure, and underexposure.

Oppenheimer is a movie about explosions, yet the soundtrack contains very little percussion. Since foot stomps are some of the only percussive elements, when they do play, it feels very sharp and unnerving. The director and composer Ludwig Göransson felt using a sound typically associated with the military would be inauthentic to musically capture the character of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Aside from the entire movie being shot with IMAX, Kodak developed the first ever black and white film stock for IMAX so the black and white sections of the movie could be shot at the same size and quality as the rest of the film.

Barbie & Oppenheimer: Head to Head
In the box office, Oppenheimer made $82.4 million but Barbie made around $155 million during its opening weekend—the biggest opening of 2023.

Both of the films’ casts contained many familiar faces. In Barbie, we saw Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Will Ferrell, Issa Rae, Emma Mackey, Kate McKinnon, and even Dua Lipa and John Cena. Oppenheimer had Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr, Devon Bostick (Rodrick Rules), Emily Blunt, and even Josh Peck (Drake & Josh).

Barbie definitely trumps Oppenheimer in terms of marketing and brand collaborations. Barbie had more gimmicks and in-theater experiences as well as brand collaborations. Some theaters sold pink kettle corn in a special Barbie-themed bag, AMC had a pink Corvette popcorn container and floaties, and more! There were many brand collaborations such as Barbie X Crocs, Barbie X Vans, and the Barbie X Forever 21 collection. Even Google changed its homepage and logo to a pretty pink when you search “Barbie Movie.” Check it out!

Barbie was surprisingly tear-jerking! Although the film is seemingly about a kids’ toy, it had a lot of sincere and heartfelt moments regarding feminism and motherhood. The movie was comedic and genuinely funny but also maintained an amazing balance between a mocking yet thought-provoking view of our society and its principles. I adored the soundtrack of Barbie, and some songs have even made it onto my personal playlist! Margot Robbie did a phenomenal job of playing Barbie, as she flawlessly embodied the character and her feelings! To summarize, if you’re hesitating to go see Barbie, you should definitely watch. It’s a worthwhile movie that is perfect for anyone! —N.J.

Oppenheimer, much like Barbie, is less of a movie and more of an experience. Everything from Oppenheimer’s cast to the cinematography and soundtrack left audiences stunned and horrified as they left the theater. Instead of creating a typical retelling of the atomic bomb, Nolan manages to horrify audiences with twists and surprising facts. One of the most interesting aspects of the film was the look into the moral struggles of Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy). Overall, Oppenheimer is a must-see, especially if you’re into thrillers. —V.B.

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About the Contributor
Naomi Joseph ’26
When not writing for GAP, Naomi can be found sleeping, baking cookies, and playing volleyball. She also enjoys reading and spending time with her friends.

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