After months of seemingly relentless hype, Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig's Barbie will both, finally, be released today. The fact that these two highly anticipated movies are premiering on the same day has created the most eagerly awaited cinematic event of the post-pandemic era.
In a remarkable (or accidental) act of counter-programming, two films with absolutely nothing in common have been inextricably linked via an onslaught of meme-ification. The result of this heightened internet curiosity is 'Barbenheimer.'
The union of Robert J. Oppenheimer ("Death, the destroyer of worlds") and Barbie (a plastic doll often criticized for its unrealistic proportions) has - as you have no doubt noticed - been given the portmanteau: Barbenheimer. This has been embraced by mainstream media outlets, leading to a spike in news coverage fueled by this very different duo. According to Stat Significant, almost half of all media mentions for Oppenheimer and Barbie reference the films in tandem. And huge numbers of creative people on social media, most notably Instagram, have taken it upon themselves to meme-ify the tandem movie release like never before.
But this isn't the first time two prominent blockbuster films have been released on the same day. While the Barbenheimer phenomenon is unique, the film industry has a lengthy record of dueling mega-movie premieres. Many of which, if not all, you have no doubt purchased tickets for.
There are 397 instances where two films with budgets over $50m (inflation-adjusted) were released on the same day.