‘Barbenheimer’ Is a Huge Hollywood Moment and Maybe the Last for a While
By: Moon Liu
In Hollywood, mixed feelings abounded on the weekend of the 22nd, as the movie industry dealt with both a boon and a bust. Many producers and employees celebrated the monumental release of two movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer. After the COVID-19 Pandemic, a dual release of successful, large theatrical events is both rare and needed by the industry. However, many directors and leads in Hollywood were also cautious due to the double strike of the SAG-AFTRA union and the Writers Guild of America, which has paralyzed many plans directors had for future movies and has led to a standoff which is predicted to be months-long and devastating for the industry.
“Barbenheimer”, the rare cinematic event where two blockbuster movies (Barbie and Oppenheimer) released on the same day, led to great success for Hollywood. Although Barbie, a movie centered on a plastic doll from many people’s childhoods, and Oppenheimer, a movie about the life of a nuclear and theoretical physicist, have almost no correlation, the mere release of both at the same time has led to many choosing to view both, bringing the industry both money and attention.
Between the two movies, Barbie has been more economically successful, bringing in over 400 million dollars since its release, and 162 million dollars in its first weekend alone. The movie received an 89% rating on rotten tomatoes, a relatively high rating compared to other movies. Oppenheimer hasn’t fallen either, however, grossing over 230 million dollars nationwide. Describing the life and events of J. Robert Oppenheimer, it received a 94% on rotten tomatoes, despite being one of the longer historical dramas out there.
At the same time, however, Hollywood is struggling due to a strike preventing them from continuing work on future blockbuster events like this. The SAG-AFTRA union and Writers Guild of America have teamed up to protest inadequate pay in an inflating economy and a rapidly changing industry. Union members have expressed discontentment with the current situation with artificial intelligence in the movie industry and the stagnant pay actors have been receiving.
“There is no sense of urgency coming from the other side of the table,” Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings actor said. “We want to go back to work. We want everyone to go back to work. So I ask the producers to call us back in and have a real conversation with us and get these things passed.”
“It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times,” said Michael Moses, the chief marketing officer of Universal during Oppenheimer’s release. During the release of Barbenheimer, the tension between employees and Hollywood became worse, and both sides became reluctant to cooperate with each other.
Many films have stopped their progress due to the strike, and certain movies have already been in talks of delaying their release. Because of the strike, a future blockbuster event like this could be delayed indefinitely.
Movie directors have expressed concern over wasting the opportunity Barbenheimer has given them: a reignition of the public’s love for moviegoing. Movie theaters already struggling could also get a breath of fresh air, allowing them to continue business for longer. However, the breakdown of progress in moviemaking has dried up many prospects from the industry to rekindle love for theatergoing and save their theaters.