Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barbie stole the show. The film’s plot follows Barbie and Ken as they embark on a journey of self-discovery following an existential crisis.
Barbie broke box office records in nearly 20 markets, had an impressively famous cast, and a marketing budget bigger than the film itself. Impressively, the film received over 1.4 million online mentions on 21 July – release day.
Oppenheimer’s mentions were around a third of Barbie’s, with a peak of over half a million online mentions on release day. The film’s intense plot follows the true story of the development of the first atomic bomb. These thought-provoking themes, stellar acting performances, and impressive filmmaking – including a lack of CGI – have contributed to its success.
Oppenheimer’s long runtime and vivid themes are perhaps less accessible than Barbie’s, but the film still broke records – it had the third biggest opening day of 2023 so far, behind Barbie and Super Mario Bros.
We also tracked mentions that included both Barbie and Oppenheimer, or the term “Barbenheimer” – the origin of which we’ll get into later. At its peak, this accounted for over 280k online mentions – over half of the number of mentions Oppenheimer accrued.
So, did the dual release date actually help both films? And if so, why?
An unlikely pairing
If you’ve been following the Barbenheimer phenomenon, you’ll know that the two films developed an unlikely bond. Both of these prominent films were released on the same day but follow extremely contrasting themes.
The result? Memes, merchandise, and plenty of social mentions about Barbenheimer.
Despite the contrast, the films didn’t develop a rivalry – but instead complimented each other. Fans of each film made a point to make an event out of seeing both films. In fact, it’s reported that 6% of Oppenheimer’s sales were due to Barbie tickets being sold out.
So, what does the sentiment look like for each film?