These are two films that from the moment it was announced that they would be released on the same day (in the US), the internet had…a party for the duo that was destined to be a huge commercial success. The release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, or the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, undoubtedly gave a spark to the cinemas.
Here at Clip News we grabbed popcorn, logged on to Brandwatch’s platform and collected and studied online reports -internet & social media- for both films concerning the period from 20/07/23 (Barbie’s premiere) to 31/08/23 (note that Oppenheimer was released in Greece on 24 August). The data revealed the following:
Barbie and Ken’s story seems to outnumber Barbie in terms of the number of mentions (24,532), while Robert Oppenheimer’s story records ¼ of them (6,675).
Looking further into the buzz of the mentions, it appears that:
Barbie reaches its highest mention peaks in the first two days of its release, with the next “burst” occurring on 31/07 mainly due to the reports of the box office valuation of its first week of release. Subsequently, Nolan’s film, although it seems to have a high volume of mentions on its domestic premiere (24/08), nevertheless the highest occurs on 27/07. This is due to the comparison of the subject matter dealt with in the film with the fire raging that day in Nea Anchialos and the heightened danger that existed due to the air force base located in the area.
The tone of the discussions
The plethora of social media mentions, memes and all kinds of artwork “united” the two films that are completely opposite in terms of plot. Twitter seems to lead the way as the medium that garnered the highest number of comments on the cinematic phenomenon.
But what colour would the overall sentiment be?
The above chart applies to both films, which show an almost identical picture in terms of negative, neutral and positive mentions. Clearly, the subject matter they deal with contributes to the broader tone, but the news coverage does not leave the overall picture unaffected. A typical example is the reports on 31 August which reproduced the statement by the Russian Ministry of Culture that ‘these two American films do not correspond to traditional Russian moral and spiritual values’.
The renaissance that passes through marketing
“Barbenheimer” brought in box office receipts and rekindled the flame of enthusiasm for a return to theaters, especially after the sweeping passage of the pandemic. Of course, the marketing tactics used to launch the films played their own catalytic role, with those used to promote the Barbie movie being an excellent case study for the industry.
Brands from various industries adopting elements of the film, viewers of all ages in theaters in pink clothes, news media articles on suggested fashion trends in pink, hairdressers wanting to adopt the hairstyle of the protagonist and the list goes on.
In conclusion, “Barbenheimer” still lends itself to many more readings, the two films are the cinematic event of the year and brands can learn on multiple levels from the impact of this phenomenon.
The above analysis is an illustrative approach, taking into account that differentiation in sample and time frame can bring a different picture of magnitudes.