Barbenheimer Winner: Who Really Won?

Who Really Won Barbenheimer FandomWire
Who Really Won Barbenheimer FandomWire
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Who really is the Barbenheimer winner?

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July 21 of 2023 will forever be known as “Barbenheimer Day.” A day which pitted two films of drastically varying tones and styles against one another at the box-office. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer releasing on the same day following months of anticipation became a cultural phenomenon so significant that it has its own Wikipedia page, and there’s even a non-fiction film in the works detailing the frenzy it created. The release weekend was treated like a heavy-weight boxing match, with audiences placing bets on which film would take the win.

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It was the type of cinematic event that had never happened before, and certainly not since the pandemic. The films were seen as polar-opposites. Oppenheimer was a deep examination into the troubled life of a man who had essentially been responsible for countless lost lives during wartime. Barbie was a vibrant and comedic take on the world’s most popular doll. Ironically, while Barbie’s plot revolves around breaking down gender-stereotypes, those same stereotypes are present and linked to the Barbenheimer experience. Through a wide and dated lens, one of these movies could be seen as a “chick-flick,” with the other being described as a “dad-movie.”

So, all these months later, is there a clear answer? Who was the Barbenheimer winner?

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Barbenheimer Winner: Let’s Talk Box-Office

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Barbenheimer Winner: Who Really Won?

Declaring a “winner” would, of course, entail looking at several aspects; however, the most significant could arguable be the box-office. Afterall, a film studio’s main goal is to make money. Well, in the case of Barbenheimer, both films wracked up major numbers at the worldwide box-office, with Oppenheimer being the third highest grossing film of the year with with 950.7 million-dollars, beat-out by The Super Mario Bros. Movie in the number-two slot with 1.3 billion-dollars. However, it was Barbie that ultimately took the crown, bringing in an astonishing 1.4 billion-dollars.

Barbenheimer Winner: What About Critical Reception?

Barbenheimer
Barbie Vs Oppenheirmer, Barbenheimer

While The Super Mario Bros. Movie did major numbers at the box-office, it’s critical reception was lukewarm at best. Barbenheimer, on the other hand, was knocking it out of the park with critics and audiences alike. Barbie received a certified fresh critic’s score of 88% and an audience score of 83% on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Oppenheimer — though slightly behind at the box-office — pulled ahead critically with an impressive fresh critic’s score of 93% and an audience score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively. Of course, the Oscars won’t air until March of 2024, and while it’s suspected that Oppenheimer will sweep many categories, Barbie has a strong cultural presence, and it will be interesting to see how that transfers into the Academy Awards. Both are likely to be up for Best Picture, but who is most likely to take home the statue?

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So… Who Won?

Barbenheimer Winner: Who Really Won?
Barbenheimer Winner: Who Really Won?

This is admittedly cheesy, and not all the answer you’re looking for, but honestly… didn’t we as an audience win? We received two of the greatest films of the year on the same day, allowing for one of the strangest double-feature opportunities in recent memory, and theaters proved that they had bounced back from the pandemic with massive box-office numbers.

In all honesty, the true defining answer of who won Barbenheimer won’t be known for years, or maybe even decades. Will these films hold relevance and will they be looked back on fondly? After all, there have been several Best Picture winners that are now viewed in a negative — or at least much less favorable — manner than when they initially released. The test of time is the truest test, and perhaps we’ll have to reexamine this question in a few years?

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film & TV Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the podcast, The Movie Divide.