By: Jy Hung Ong
With the release of two highly anticipated movies, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”, Hollywood is having one of its happiest weekends. However, it may also be the last happiest weekend in a very long time for the world of film.
Greta Gerwig’s comedy “Barbie”, based on the famous doll of the same name, and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer”, a documentary about the father of the atomic bomb, have created a new trend in the movie industry: “Barbenheimer”. Even though these movies are extremely different, they have one thing in common. They were both released on the same day. This helped increase the public’s anticipation as many movie fans, who weren’t planning to go to theaters at all, are extremely anxious to watch the two highly awaited movies.
Experts think “Barbie” will debut more than $150 million domestically, maybe even surpassing this year’s opening gross, the “Super Mario Bros. Movie”. “Oppenheimer” is set to make more than 50 million at the box office, a tremendous achievement for the three-hour drama. Since the theater industry is still struggling with both the pandemic and the rise of streaming, the two movies’ gross earnings would normally produce extreme happiness back in Hollywood.
However, this hasn’t been the case thanks to the fact the two movies were released during a dual strike that has halted the film industry.
On July 14, the Hollywood industry’s strike reached its one-week mark, after the entirety of the SAG-AFTRA union joined with the Writers Guild of America, a union on strike since May. Both strikes are expected to last for months, halting plans for new movies and threatening existing ones, as actors have been ordered not to encourage the movies during the strikes.
“It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times,” said Michael Moses, the Chief Marketing Officer of Universal Pictures.
In an article for the New York Times, Kyle Buchanan wrote “He [Moses] noted that in the past few weeks, as the ‘Barbenheimer’ hype grew, so did the animosity between the guilds and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that bargains on behalf of the studios. With both sides entrenched and the strikes expected to continue into the fall, the mood for many in Hollywood this weekend will shift between joy and unease.”
“Celebrations are tempered. But we still need a healthy business on the far side of this,” Moses said.