Graphic by: Jamie Thornton
Uninvited guests are almost never welcome at Hollywood’s door, but “Barbenheimer” was a rare exception. And in retrospect, it’s pretty easy to see why that was the case.
I mean, who in their right mind would turn down one of the greatest, unpaid advertising storms in entertainment history? Not the executives at Universal Pictures, that’s for sure. So instead, they let the memes do the work, and it worked out pretty well for them.
But now that the storm known as “Barbenheimer” has passed, Hollywood wants that media sensation back. And I’m here to remind them why it won’t work. Because “Barbenheimer,” like all other viral memes, is a product of the internet and coincidence.
The whole movement happened by sheer chance when one Noah Garfinkel, a television writer, put out a tweet capitalizing on the irony of two tonally opposite films releasing as a double feature. From there on out, it was the internet’s job to work its magic.
Not only did “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” go on to make a little north of $1 billion at the box office at the time of release, but the films blazed the way through countless different box office records, most notably taking the crown of the biggest box office release for 2023.
Now it isn’t a surprise Hollywood wants to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was “Barbenheimer,” but in classic Hollywood fashion, it chose to ignore everything that made the event special in the first place.
It isn’t corporate marketing that got the event to the iconic pop culture status it currently holds, but rather a coincidental combination of circumstances. This includes a craving for good entertainment due to the Writer’s Guild of America strike, good blockbusters and an insatiable appetite for the absurd, which all came together to brew a perfect storm of hype and excitement around the two blockbuster flicks.
And it isn’t just that either. The prime aspect of making these sorts of events enjoyable is it’s completely independent of corporate control. Events like “Barbenheimer” just aren’t as attractive when you’re aware of the fact it’s been manufactured by some corporate entity to manipulate you into feeding into pockets. It comes off as artificial more than anything, making the whole event seem forced.
Which brings us to Hollywood’s latest attempt at it: “Saw Patrol.” Contrary to what you might think, I am not making that up. The term refers to the double feature release of “Saw X” and “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie.”
To give credit where credit is due, some of the tweets that came out of this whole thing are pretty funny. But obviously, it is nowhere near the event “Barbenheimer” was.
In the long term, manufacturing this kind of event is going to cost Hollywood more in resources, and cost the audience members more in mental well-being.
So if nothing else, I hope Hollywood doesn’t keep this trend up for long. The last thing I ever want to hear put together in a cohesive sentence would be the words “My Little American Psycho 2.”