In Variety’s popular “Actors On Actors” series, actress and producer Margot Robbie revealed to actor Cillian Murphy that the summer’s record breaking blockbuster event widely dubbed as “Barbenheimer” almost did not happen. Robbie starred as the titular “Barbie” in Greta Gerwig‘s acclaimed film while Murphy starred as the titular J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” Both dropped on July 21.
Robbie revealed that “Oppenheimer” producer Chuck Roven called her and encouraged her to change the release date of “Barbie” so as to avoid the films competing with one another. Robbie fought back against this notion, as both films fall into vastly different genres that many film buffs enjoy. The humorously vast tonal difference in the films proved a smash box office success that brought moviegoers out in the droves in the largest debut since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murphy was in agreement with Robbie that the dual release date wound up driving the cultural phenomenon that surrounded both films in a positive light.
Margot Robbie says that #Oppenheimer producer Chuck Roven asked her to move #Barbie’s release date: “I was like, ‘We’re not moving our date. If you’re scared to be up against us, then you move your date.’” #ActorsOnActors https://t.co/5IwVjNm7Us pic.twitter.com/4iPXSzMVLj
— Variety (@Variety) December 5, 2023
“Barbie” thematically focuses on feminism and gender roles at large, while offering commentary on feminine beauty standards and the patriarchy as a whole. “Oppenheimer” serves as a historical film detailing the real J. Robert Oppenheimer’s creation of the atomic bomb, and its impact throughout history and into the present day. The films’ coinciding release date left many moviegoers feeling inspired, and with the impression that women’s voices and narratives still mattered in a society that continues to cater to men.
I cannot believe the Barbenheimer phenomenon was born out of Margot Robbie (lead actress/producer) standing up to a man.
— anna kendrijbol (@annakentwinkery) December 5, 2023
Despite the two films appearing so opposite one another, the films’ stars bear no malice towards one another and viewed the situation as friendly competition. Variety co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh revealed that before even working with the editorial staff to orchestrate the pairing of Robbie and Murphy for “Actors On Actors” that Murphy’s team reached out to the publication asking for a sit down with Robbie.
Pulling off this Barbenheimer cover was all I wanted for this year’s edition of Actors on Actors. Before I even had to ask, Cillian Murphy’s team reached out to say he was wondering if we could pair him with Margot Robbie. And she quickly said yes. https://t.co/Y7nfWXeDnG
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) December 5, 2023
Social Media Reactions
Film and pop culture aficionados continue to reflect upon the once-in-a-decade level of hype drummed up surrounding Barbenheimer.
'It may never happen again"….real talk.
— Photo Artist 🎨| NFT. NYC 2024 (@JayJay__92) December 5, 2023
Fans of both actors are praising their insightful conversation, which offered unique commentary on the status of the film and entertainment industry.
they read the Barbenheimer assignment pic.twitter.com/CzJU5r4wwp
— Devanayagam (@Devanayagam) December 5, 2023
Many hope to emulate the unique marketing strategy that surrounded Barbenheimer.
I loved this so much when it was going on. The people really created a special “marketing” effort
So creative with the themes based on which you watched first
— CinemaBums (@Cinema_Bums) December 5, 2023
Both critically acclaimed films will soon come to streaming services for those who missed their infamous box office debut. “Barbie” hits Max on Dec. 15 while “Oppenheimer” has remained on Apple TV+ since Nov. 21.