In a movie matchup for the ages, Warner Bros has announced that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie will land in theaters the same day as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer: July 21, 2023. This sets up a rare box office boxing match between two major filmmakers with big budget tentpoles on the same day, and their respective studios are betting big. Usually, studios try to claim a release window with no other major movies releasing to goose their odds, but Warner Bros and Universal are both feeling bullish about their odds here. Whose corner are you in?
A lazy analysis would suggest you could split the audiences for this one up along traditional gender lines, with men flocking to see Nolan’s steely biopic about the inventor of the atomic bomb while the girls head over to Gerwig’s live-action adaptation of the world’s most famous toy. But that would be a pretty simplistic look at just how promising and appealing both of these movies are.
Gerwig is coming off of an incredible streak with Frances Ha, Lady Bird and Little Women, and she’s assembled a can’t-miss cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Kate McKinnon, Simu Liu and Margot Robbie as the blonde bombshell herself. There is just no reason to think Barbie won’t be fantastic.
— Warner Bros. Pictures (@wbpictures) April 26, 2022
On the other hand, do you really need us to pitch you on a Christopher Nolan movie? Tenet proved he can hit even when he misses, and there’s probably no more surefire big budget filmmaker working in Hollywood today. The Oppenheimer story has been his passion project, and it’s a juicy story — the tale of a brilliant man who lived long enough to see the untold horrors his genius made possible. And every actor not in Barbie is showing up here, like Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Bennie Safdie, Alden Ehrenreich, Gary Oldman, Kenneth Branaugh and, in the titular role, Cillian Murphy.
For our part, we’ll probably call in sick and plan on a double feature — maybe with a quick costume change from our austere business suits to something sensibly flirty in between. Place your bets on which box office will triumph now. It’s gonna be a close one.