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Why Christopher Nolan Isn't Upset About Barbie Vs. Oppenheimer

As the intense summer movie battle of "Barbie" vs. "Oppenheimer" continues to brew as they approach their shared July 21, 2023, release date, the director of the latter is already declaring it a win for both films.

Nolan, whose films have traditionally been released in the third Friday in July slot over the past 15 years, told IGN that he's just happy that people are crowding into movie theaters no matter what they are seeing. As such, the "Barbenheimer" term that's been bandied about online may be a good thing.

"Summer, in a healthy marketplace, is always crowded, and we've been doing this a long time," Nolan observed for IGN when discussing the dual release. "I think for those of us who care about movies, we've been really waiting to have a crowded marketplace again, and now it's here and that's terrific."

At least Nolan is no stranger to participating in head-to-head cinematic throwdowns. Before the battle of "Barbie" vs. "Oppenheimer," there was Batman vs. "Mamma Mia" in 2008 with the debut of the director's "The Dark Knight" opposite the ABBA jukebox musical. The big difference between now and then is "The Dark Knight" and "Mamma Mia" are both PG-13 films. "Barbie" is also PG-13, so it will have the advantage of bringing in a wider audience. On the flip side, "Oppenheimer" is rated R, which is a kind of a big deal since most of Nolan's films have been rated PG-13. The last Nolan film to be rated R, in fact, was his 2002 crime mystery "Insomnia," starring Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and the late Robin Williams.

Murphy and Damon share Nolan's sentiments about Barbie vs. Oppenheimer

While several high-profile films have been vying for moviegoers' attendance this summer, the creative forces behind them have wished their fellow competitors some goodwill.

In a tweet from Tom Cruise, the actor-producer and his "Mission: Impossible -– Dead Reckoning Part One" director Christopher McQuarrie are shown holding tickets in front of the respective movie posters of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," "Oppenheimer," and "Barbie." Cruise wrote, "This summer is full of amazing movies to see in theaters," rattling off the title of each film. The next day, "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig and star Margot Robbie responded to Cruise from their film's official Twitter account, saying "Mission: Accepted!" Accompanying the tweet are photos of Robbie and Gerwig that are similar to Cruise's and McQuarrie's, where the actor and director are holding tickets and standing in front of posters for "Mission: Impossible," "Oppenheimer," and "Indiana Jones."

Meanwhile, it appears that "Oppenheimer" star Cillian Murphy, like Nolan, is opting to address the battle with "Barbie" for box-office dollars with class. "I think it's great. I mean, I'll be going to see 'Barbie.' I can't wait to see it," Murphy told IGN. "I think it's just great for the industry and for audiences that we have two amazing films by amazing filmmakers coming out the same day. Could spend a whole day in the cinema, what's better than that?" 

Murphy's "Oppenheimer" co-star Matt Damon agreed. "I love the fact that people are talking about going to two movies in a weekend," he explained. "Ben [Affleck] and I used to go to two movies every weekend, and I think people should do that."