Inside ‘Barbenheimer’: Here’s Why Fans Can’t Wait for ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’

By: Sean Burch|July 14, 2023

Excited about “Barbenheimer”?

If so, you’re not the only one. With both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” set to hit theaters on July 21, millions of fans are ready to enjoy the appropriately-dubbed movie event of the summer. But for different reasons, it turns out, according to new Whip Media survey data.

The first thing you need to know: Both movies are heavily anticipated by fans. (Okay, you probably guessed that one already.) “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s latest movie on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who spearheaded the USA’s development of nuclear weapons during World War II, had 86% of survey respondents say there were a 4 or a 5 on a 1-5 scale of excitement, per Whip Media’s survey data. As for “Barbie,” the new fantasy-comedy from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, 77% of respondents answered a 4 or a 5 on the same scale — indicating both flicks have fans ready to hit the box office this week.

(And some aren’t waiting to buy their tickets. AMC this week said more than 20,000 of its loyalty members had already purchased tickets for a “Barbenheimer” double bill.)

Below you can see how both films compared against each other, as well as against “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” another recent big-budget summer movie.

Note: Whip Media’s movie surveys were run in mid-June (June 7-9 for “Indiana Jones,” June 13 for “Barbie,” and June 13-14 for “Oppenheimer.) There were 941 respondents for “Indiana Jones,” 1,104 respondents for “Oppenheimer,” and 1,677 respondents for “Barbie.” The respondents were users of TV Time, Whip Media’s TV and movie tracking app with more than 26 million global registered users. 

Alright, fans are excited, that much is clear. But as mentioned above, it’s for different reasons. For “Barbie,” the main driver of fan interest is the movie’s star-studded cast; 52% of respondents said the Robbie-Gosling pairing is the main reason they’re interested in watching the movie. (The film was directed by “Lady Bird” director Greta Gurwig.)

Hype for “Oppenheimer,” meanwhile, is driven mostly by Nolan, with 41% of respondents saying the movie’s creative braintrust is the main reason they want to see it. The movie’s cast — featuring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon — was also an important factor, with 37% of respondents saying it was the main reason they will watch “Oppenheimer.”

Another important note to make before wrapping up: the online buzz is clearly helping “Barbie” stoke fan interest. More than half of respondents (52%) said social media was responsible for how they heard about the new flick. For “Oppenheimer,” fan awareness has been primarily driven by its trailer (32% of respondents said this is how they found out about the movie), as well as social media (33% of respondents). A new 5-minute trailer this week probably didn’t hurt, either. 

For many fans, the question now simply boils down to this: which movie are you going to see first?