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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Expectations for Barbenheimer

Photo by Graphic by Cameron Johnson

July 21: Over 40,000 tickets have sold for the #Barbenheimer phenomenon, a battle for the #1 movie in America

Releasing on July 21, “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” share the title of the most anticipated movies of the summer. The buzz surrounding both has been nicknamed “Barbenheimer.” 

With articles discussing the all-star cast of “Oppenheimer” and the minute details put into “Barbie” (Margot Robbie jumping from her mansion into her car), Aggies have high expectations for the upcoming double feature. Texas A&M students from backgrounds ranging from experimental physics to Barbie-themed birthday parties share their excitement, thoughts and predictions for the upcoming feature films.


In the trailer released by Universal Studios, “Oppenheimer” sets an overarching dramatic tone that will be the key factor in the allure of the movie. The movie documents the ego and drive of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Often credited as “the father of the atomic bomb,” Oppenheimer served as the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and as part of the Manhattan Project. The trailer shows not only the years of research and back-breaking work scientists did to have the power to annihilate Nazi Germany but also the conflicting emotions involved in building the first weapon of mass destruction. 

“Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan has been involved in renowned films like “Interstellar,” “Dunkirk” and “Inception.” Senior nuclear engineering student Jackson Dublin spoke about his expectations of Nolan’s work in portraying one of the most significant moments in United States history. Earlier in the year, Dublin watched every movie directed by Nolan. 

“Just about every one of them was great,” Dublin said. “Christopher Nolan has never been one to try to push any political ideas in his movies, so I think that it will show the destructive nature of nuclear weapons without trying to push any anti-nuclear ideas.”

As someone with an interest in the field of nuclear engineering, Dublin said he felt an attachment to the subject matter of the film. To avoid spoiling the movie, Dublin said he has been trying to stay away from trailers that may give away too much. 

“I also think it will give me a new perspective on the darker side of nuclear power and the dangers involved with it,” Dublin said. “I find it more fun to go in blind.”

In honor of the memes about the ideal movie viewing schedule for July 21 — black coffee and cigarettes, “Oppenheimer,” brunch, “Barbie,” dinner and drinks — Dublin plans to watch both the day they are released and harbors high hopes for the Greta Gerwig film as well. 


In 1959, Mattel Inc. created the Barbie fashion doll and forever stamped itself into pop culture history with the iconic toy. To date, the company has sold over 1 billion Barbie dolls.

Much like the doll, the Barbie movie has relied on clever advertising to draw in consumers. From leaked scene footage on Venice beach to a full-scale Barbie Mansion featured on Architectural Digest, Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film has gained vast media attention. As a long-time fan, telecommunication media studies junior Paige Wenger grew up with all things Barbie, including a themed party for her sixth birthday. Wenger said she has waited for something like this her whole life.

“I grew up watching all of the animated Barbie movies and the ‘Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse’ show,” Wenger said. “This is kind of the adult version I’ve been waiting for, a live-action movie. Yes, Disney has come out with live actions of their animated movies, but no, I always wanted a Barbie live-action, and now it’s here. This is the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ for Barbie fans.”

While Wenger looks forward to Barbie the most, she has also planned for a double feature like Dublin. Wenger said she’s confident that circulating memes will influence others to do the same, which is surprisingly humorous because of the movies’ alarming differences.

“The whole Barbie versus Oppenheimer thing is funny because people compare the two when they’re so drastically different,” Wenger said. “Barbie is comedic, sarcastic and satirical. Oppenheimer is the true story about someone who made a nuclear weapon, very dark and different from Barbie.”

Construction science senior Abby McMurrough acknowledged the differences between the movies, but also noted that the movies share an overlooked similarity.

“Color theory really interests me, so it fascinates me that both of the movies have different color schemes integral to its plot,” McMurrough said. “Oppenheimer switches from black-and-white to color depending on what is historical fact and what is dramatized. Barbie starts out in the Barbie world, all pink and bright, and then when she enters the real world she also enters a gray-scale color scheme. It’s interesting that both movies use colors to tell its story. So it’s interesting to see how the movies are similar, not just different.”

Given the differences and similarities, the question remains: which movie brings in more money at the box office this weekend? McMurrough said she remains unsure which movie will outperform the other. However, the most important victory stems from forty-thousand ticket presales as of July 17, per AMC, which is paramount for the in-flux movie industry, McMurrough said.

“I go back and forth between which [movie] will do better … I see a lot of people just happy that people are going back to the movie theaters,” McMurrough said. “This is good for the movie business. [My sister] and I used to go to the movies once a week, nearly twice a week before [COVID-19]. Having these two big blockbusters come out the same weekend will be helpful with the writers strike and, now, actors strike. This will help revive the business and establish its importance.”

Wenger said she attributes the Barbie movie’s creative marketing, rating and nostalgia to grabbing a larger share of the prospective total audience.

“I think Barbie does have an edge over Oppenheimer because Barbie is rated PG-13 and Oppenheimer is rated R,” Wenger said. “More parents will take their kids to see Barbie because of this. I also feel Barbie extends to more generations. When you think about it, some old[er generations] might also want to watch ‘Barbie’ because they grew up with the Barbie doll as well. Opening the same weekend, it is kinda like a competition. Everyone is going to be watching which does better, which grosses more.”

Aggies are watching. The world is watching. Which weekend warrior will outperform the other at the box office? The memes have drawn in eager movie-goers who can’t wait for the movies to roll out months later onto streaming services. To purchase tickets for Barbie and/or Oppenheimer, visit your local movie theater’s website.

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