Why ‘Barbenheimer’ Mania Is Unstoppable

4 minute read

What happens when two of the most anticipated films of 2023 debut in the same week? A fan-made movie crossover event known as Barbenheimer.

Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Dua Lipa, and Issa Rae, among several others, will release on July 21. Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s film on J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was integral to the development of the atomic bomb, comes out the same day. Summer movie-goers are relishing the chance to celebrate a one-day cinematic experience of watching two polar-opposite films back-to-back.

Hollywood is all about Barbenheimer

Tom Cruise, star of this summer’s other blockbuster, Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning, will be taking part in the phenomenon. “​​I love a double feature, and it doesn’t get more explosive (or more pink) than one with Oppenheimer and Barbie,” he tweeted in late June.

Cruise told the Sydney Morning Herald he plans to see Oppenheimer first and then Barbie opening weekend.

Read More: How Barbie Came to Life

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The filmmakers and actors from both films are in on the fun, playfully leaning into the crowded film lineup to encourage more people to the movies. Gerwig and Robbie joined in, buying tickets to Oppenheimer, as well as the new Mission Impossible and Indiana Jones movies. Both Nolan and leading-man Cillian Murphy of Oppenheimer have addressed the frenzy, with Nolan telling IGN, “I think for those of us who care about movies, we’ve been really waiting to have a crowded marketplace again, and now it’s here and that’s terrific.”

Planning the ideal Barbenheimer day

Maria Carrillo, 22, will take part in Barbenheimer with her friends because it will be a theatrical release unlike any other since COVID-19 began in 2020, as movie-going is only now beginning to get back to pre-pandemic levels. “I’ve always loved going to the movies and this is going to be fun,” she tells TIME.

Carrillo and countless others online are excited about making the collaboration happen, creating special merchandise and self-made trailers and giving advice on how to affordably watching both films in theaters or craft the perfect Barbenheimer viewing itinerary (which can include everything from mimosas to showers and ice coffees to whiskey at Japanese listening bar and an outfit change).

Businesses have gotten in on it—a Barnes & Nobles in Olympia, Washington posted a TikTok with over 30,000 likes of a “Barbeinheimer Starter Pack.” According to Elizabeth Frank, AMC’s CCO and executive VP of worldwide programming, over 20,000 tickets have been sold so far at AMC Theaters to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day.


plus who doesnt love a lil air conditioned movie date in the summer?! @amctheatres should sponsor me at this point🎬🍿 barbiethemovie oppenheimer barbenheimer missionimpossible amcalist movietok nyclife hauntedmansionmovie

♬ in nicole kidman we trust - Jas

One debate will continue until July 21: in what order should viewers see the movies? One TikToker says she will not be starting with Barbie. “I’m sorry do you also eat dessert first? Oppenheimer first, then Barbie it’s science,” she captioned her video. Others disagree: “People seeing Barbie first are wild,” one person tweeted, offering their preferred schedule.


Carrillo plans to watch Oppenheimer first on July 21. “It makes more sense because it’s a really heavy movie,” she says. Following Oppenheimer, Carrillo and her friends will change outfits and have a debrief dinner before ending “the night with Barbie as a treat, which will be beautiful and pink.”

She anticipates both films will live up to their expectations. For now, she’s enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime blockbuster scenario and everything it has brought. “It’s all part of the fun.”

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Write to Mariah Espada at mariah.espada@time.com