15 August 2023

The battle of the blockbusters: Oppenheimer vs Barbie

| Jarryd Rowley
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Barbie / Oppenheimer montage

Barbie or Oppenheimer? That is the question that cinemagoers will be contemplating this weekend as both films promise to be box office hits. Photo: Supplied.

I’ve been to the cinema hundreds of times, spent thousands of hours watching movies and even longer watching trailers, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

In all that time, I haven’t been more excited about a weekend at the cinema than I am right now.

On 20 July, two of 2023’s biggest films will battle it out for the crown of this year’s biggest blockbuster! Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.

The two films are promising to be box office smashes in a period of diminishing returns for Hollywood’s biggest brands, even with the current writers’ and actors’ strikes.

The hype train for the two films however isn’t exclusive to the US, with Wagga residents gearing up to choose sides, kick their feet up and enjoy the very best that a blockbuster can offer.

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In Barbie’s corner, we have Vicki Burkinshaw, owner of the Curious Rabbit, and Alphabet Soup, Wagga’s queer youth group for 13- to 17-year-olds, who are gearing up by hosting a fundraising premiere on Thursday 20 July.

The event will kick off at the Curious Rabbit with a pre-party. Participants are being encouraged to dress up as either Barbie or Ken as best-dressed competitions will be held on the night.

“A lot of people have built a bit of a cult following for this film,” Ms Burkinshaw said.

“Barbie has become a queer icon, she has been presented in so many diverse ways and that resonates with a lot of people.

“Alphabet Soup is really backing this event as a place where people of the young queer community can feel safe in who they are and express themselves in a space where they won’t be judged.”

The pre-party event will feature drag queens, pink food, bright outfits and even a Barbie doll box in which people can take a picture of themselves posing as Barbie.

“The event is limited, but we want those who can make it to come down at 8:30 pm to Forum 6 Cinema and make this movie bigger than Ben-Hur,” Ms Burkinshaw said.

“Why choose a sad, depressing-looking movie about death when you can watch a bright, colourful and inclusive film with friends!”

Fighting for Oppenheimer is Jackson Blair, a Cillian Murphy (the actor playing the title role of J Robert Oppenheimer) superfan who will be attending the first showing he can, kitted out in his best Peaky Blinders-inspired outfit.

“Christopher Nolan is one of cinema’s best directors,” Mr Blair said.

“Pair that with an all-star cast of Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Gary Oldman and so many more!”

Jackson and his friends first grew an appreciation of Christopher Nolan following the release of his now iconic and much beloved Dark Knight Trilogy. Since then Nolan has released hit after hit, with Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk and The Prestige being just some of the films in his critically acclaimed catalogue.

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Jackson and his friends will also be donning dark brown, grey and black suits to their showing, throwing their support behind the World War II-based film.

“When Nolan releases a film, it’s an event!” Mr Blair said.

“People stop and watch. This film promises to deliver the chilling story about the creation of the atomic bomb and the conflict that comes with it and personally, I can’t wait.”

According to a Region poll which saw 138 people respond, 58 per cent will be seeing Barbie first, and the remaining 42 per cent will be checking out Oppenheimer.

So whether you see one or the other, or both on the same day like me, one thing is for certain – it is a great week to go to the cinema.

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