We have been hearing about the Barbie movie circulating, and more often than not, the hype fever from the movie alone catches the glimpse of many and has taken social media by storm. What is it about this movie that brings in so much attention and the eagerness among the public to watch them? Is it because of the first time Barbie gets a live-action movie after many animated films? Or is it because of the surprising number of well-known actors and actresses such as Dua Lipa, Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and John Cena are present in the movie, as both the main characters and cameos?
Either way, the hype for the Barbie movie is indeed unquestionable, and after watching the movie, there are a solid number of reasons why this movie has such a massive spotlight, and that children and adults alike have reserved tickets for it.
(To read our honest review of Barbie click Here. )
The Barbenheimer Memes
We know that the Barbenheimer memes have been circulating in social media, and the producers somehow have taken notice of this. It just so happens that both Barbie and Oppenheimer were set to be released on the same date (in Malaysia, they were released on the 20th of July). What makes them both captivating is the stark contrast between the two movies. Barbie, from what is being portrayed in the teaser trailer, is more light-themed, and visually appealing with saturated and vivid colours.
The trailer also emanates a cheerful and fable-tale vibe, where the main character sets out on a journey to “save the Barbie World”, which in some ways mimics a heroic story we once were so used to in children’s movies and storybooks. Oppenheimer, on the other hand, has a more serious tone, with a slightly desaturated ambience with more focus on inducing a sense of distress in the viewers. It focuses more on historical data and figures and the plot relies heavily on them, rendering the movie to be non-fictional compared to its opposite counterpart.
The contrast between the two movies has caused a massive surge of memes across all social media platforms — most notably the memes about outfits to wear to watch these movies. Browse through the Barbenheimer memes, and more often than not will we encounter posts about wearing the exact mismatched clothing for either of the movies — pink or bright-coloured casual Hawaiian shirts, jackets, and shorts for Oppenheimer, and a formal suit with neckties and leather shoes for Barbie.
Initially, it is purely memes, but the public has eventually embraced them. Some may wear fully formal for Barbie, but we can see others wearing pink to match the theme. Regardless, the idea of wearing specifically matching or mismatched clothes for the two movies has reached everyone.
The sales made from the two movies alone have made a massive impact on the Hollywood box office, and it is said that such history is less likely to happen anytime soon. The two films were both well-received by critics and audiences, and they generated a lot of excitement around the box office. This excitement led to strong opening weekends for both films, and they continued to perform well throughout their theatrical runs.
The combined box office gross of the two films was a welcome surprise (bringing in over $500 million combined), as the summer of 2023 had been a relatively slow one for box office revenue. The success of these two films helped to revitalize the box office and give it a much-needed boost.
Childhood Dreams Among the Grown
There have several real-live movies based on video games, animations, etc., but this is the first time the Barbie movie gets a similar treatment. A lot of childhood movies have been given the treatment of live-action remakes of them, and regardless of how the public sees them (whether it is a quick cash grab or a passionate project), these remakes still generate revenues for the production companies.
There have been really good movie adaptations of video games, too — the Super Mario Bros. movie, for example, which has been received well for the overall movie quality and plot (props to the Illumination studios for choosing to produce a movie based on a popular childhood video game). The movie reached roughly 180 billion yen at the global box office, according to Toho-Towa Co. (the Mario movie distributor).
So, when the Barbie movie was released, it caused a similar impact. The marketing done for the movie did well, too — the news about the movie causing a massive depletion of pink paint has attracted quite a lot of attention.
“The secrets to the movie’s success lay in the marketing team’s ability to create a ‘moment’ that masses of people want to be part of. By playing to their strengths of pushing the strong identity of Barbie as a brand – utilising hot pink and iconic fonts, alongside appealing to nostalgia – the Barbie marketing team has generated significant buzz and anticipation ahead of the movie’s release.” Connor Campbell, a business expert at NerdWallet has commented on the success.
A lot of adults were once enjoyers of old Barbie animated films (Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie of Swan Lake, Barbie and The Magic of Pegasus, etc.) as children. In every way, the movie has adapted very closely to how Barbie is supposed to enact by the children, including the doll’s feet in a tip-toe shape, water not existing in the Barbie world, and dolls just teleported from the house to the car.
The Barbie dolls shown in the movie are also portrayals of the existing models, both sold and discontinued ones. Pushing the idea of nostalgia among these grown adults has caused them to be excited over the movie, considering that the playstyle shown commends the children (now adults) who buy and play with the dolls and that those who have one or more of these models can point out “Oh, I have those”.
Famous Hollywood Casts/Cameos
For those who are a fan of Margot Robbie in the movie Suicide Squad (2016), they will see her representing as one of the main characters in the movie here. For those who are a fan of Blade Runner (2017), they will see the same Ryan Gosling representing as another main character in Barbie. These two are unsurprisingly excellent in portraying their characters in the movie, with expressions that bring out just as much satisfaction among us as in all other movies they have played in. There are even multiple videos posted on the Internet that compare Margot Robbie’s strikingly similar yet contrasting scenes in Barbie and Suicide Squad — obviously, the public will want to watch these so-called eye-catching scenes.
Besides the famous casts playing the main characters in the movie, we also — despite numerous leaks all over the Internet — unexpectedly have other famous artists and actors/actresses present as cameos. Who would anticipate John Cena’s presence in Barbie? Oh, and we have Dua Lipa in the movie, too. Nicola Coughlan who played in the TV show called Bridgerton (2020) also appears as a cameo, as well as Simu Liu, who has played in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).
These are not the only ones — the movie also has Rob Brydon, Emerald Fennell, Chris Taylor, Hari Nef, and Will Ferrell playing their roles in the movie. Barbie is also incomplete without the one and only founder of Barbie — Ruth Handler, who is also present in the movie. Talk about fame and acclamation!
It is honestly a surprise to see a live-action Barbie movie. But then again, we have seen numerous live-action remakes of old films (Disney *cough* *cough*). What separates this movie from most live-action counterparts we tend to see in the cinemas is the originality of the movie — it is not a remake, nor it is a re-enaction of any previous animated Barbie films. And that alone is enough to bring up the hype for the public to see what this Barbie movie has to offer.