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“Barbenheimer” and unlikely double features

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

20th Jul 2023 Film & TV

“Barbenheimer” and unlikely double features

Everyone is talking about seeing Barbie and Oppenheimer (“Barbenheimer”) at the cinema as an unlikely double feature. Here are some more upcoming 2023 films that share a release date and could make for a fun and weird film pairing 

It seems like everyone is talking about “Barbenheimer”—the idea of going to see Oppenheimer and Barbie at the cinema as an unlikely (but hugely popular) double feature (in that order, unless you’re looking to end on a nuclear explosion!), as they share a release date and are completely opposite in tone.

This is far from the first time this has happened, with very different classics sharing a release date in film history, such as Toy Story and Casino, Raising Arizona and Evil Dead 2, Die Hard and A Fish Called Wanda, Jumanji and Heat and (perhaps greatest of all) The Matrix and 10 Things I Hate About You. But this is the first time it has caught the zeitgeist so strongly.

Here are six upcoming double features you can enjoy at the cinema for the rest of 2023 that will be a wild and enjoyable ride of the opposites that film has to offer!

1. Barbie and Oppenheimer (July 21)

Barbie and OppenheimerCredit: Warner Bros / Universal Pictures

A brightly coloured, live-action film about the hugely popular Barbie toy range by Mattel, which sees Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, Bombshell) as the titular iconic character and Ryan Gosling (Drive, La La Land) as Ken, is the polar opposite of the bleak and epic story of the development of the world-changing, horrifying atomic bomb, starring Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Peaky Blinders) as Dr J Robert Oppenheimer.

"Both films are getting rave reviews and 'Barbenheimer' is probably the biggest cinematic event of 2023"

Surprisingly, there is a theme that ties these two films together—death. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie sees Barbie having intrusive thoughts about death, so she goes to the real world to connect with the humans who play with her, while Christopher Nolan’s biopic Oppenheimer is obviously all about death. Both films are getting rave reviews, reflecting the light and dark sides of humanity. “Barbenheimer” is probably the biggest cinematic event and unlikely double feature of 2023.

2. The Nun II and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (September 8)

Nun 2 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3Credit: Warner Bros / Universal Pictures

Next up on the list is the latest instalment in the hugely popular The Conjuring supernatural horror franchise about the return of the demonic force Valak, the Nun, played by Bonnie Aarons (The Nun, The Princess Diaries), which is released on the same day as the third My Big Fat Greek Wedding romcom film—again starring Nia Vardalos as Toula Portokalos and an ensemble cast on an upbeat family reunion in Greece.

Fear and jump scares couldn’t be more opposite to the light-hearted, sun-kissed family fun, making this double feature a summer duo that’s pleasingly opposite. Maybe some summery viewing of a Greek holiday in the afternoon then as night falls witness the terrifying Nun, haunting Sister Irene at a French boarding school?

3. Expend4bles and Dumb Money (September 22)

Expend4bles and Dumb Money
Credit: Lionsgate / Sony Pictures

The action hero super team the Expendables return in the fourth instalment in the film series, Expend4bles, led by the legendary Sylvester Stallone (Rambo, Rocky) as always, which is entirely different to the biographical comedy drama Dumb Money, which follows the true story of a group of rag-tag investors who squeezed two hedge funds by betting on GameStop shares.

"They’re both star-studded ensemble pieces but one has explosions and action stars, the other stocks and hedge funds"

Yes, they’re both star-studded ensemble pieces—Expend4bles including the likes of Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and 50 Cent, and Dumb Money featuring a cast that includes Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and Seth Rogen. However, that’s where the similarities end. One has explosions and muscle-bound action stars and the other has stocks and hedge funds. It sounds like a perfectly unlikely double header.

4. The Creator and The Old Oak (September 29)

Credit: 20th Century Studios / StudioCanal UK

The Creator is a dystopian sci-fi where John David Washington’s (Tenet, BlacKkKlansman) Joshua decides to save the life of a robot child caught in the middle of a ruthless war between humans and AI, and The Old Oak is about a struggling pub and town in County Durham after the mines have closed, with the arrival of Syrian refugees rising tensions but the pub landlord, Chris McGlade’s Vic befriending one of the refugees, Ebla Mari’s Yari.

A big budget sci-fi action film and a lowkey film about the struggles and tensions of people in a small town in Northeast England are just about as different as it gets, but both films tackle big issues—the development of AI and the refugee crisis, and how we need to find our humanity in addressing both. A weird and entertaining double viewing. 

5. Killers of the Flower Moon and Trolls Band Together (October 20)

Killer of the Flower Moon and Trolls Band Together Credit: Apple TV+ and Paramount Pictures / Universal Pictures

The upcoming Martin Scorsese historical crime drama will see the legendary director working with Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant, The Departed), Lily Gladstone (Reservation Dogs, Billions) and Robert De Niro (The Irishman, Goodfellas) on a story about the mysterious murders of the Osage tribe in 1920s America, while Trolls Band Together—the third film in the Trolls film franchise—is an animated musical comedy for the kids, based on the toys Trolls as a band. It features voice acting from Anna Kendrick (Trolls World Tour, Pitch Perfect) and pop star Justin Timberlake (Trolls World Tour, The Social Network).

"Scorsese's historical crime drama has DicCaprio and De Niro while the latest 'Trolls' film is an animated musical comedy for the kids"

A serious story about the suspicious murders of a Native American tribe who find oil on their land, with serious acting heavyweights, and the colourful and fun sing-along starring the Trolls that’s worth watching with the kids. There’s a tone shift here that would be well worth enjoying together on the silver screen. Maybe Trolls Band Together first?

6. Dune: Part Two and Quiz Lady (November 3)

Dune 2 and Quiz LadyCredit: Warner Bros / 20th Century Studios

The second film in the epic sci-fi reboot, Dune: Part Two sees Timothée Chalamet’s (Dune, The French Dispatch) Paul Atreides and Zendaya’s (Dune, Spider-Man: No Way Home) Chani on a mission to prevent a terrible future, while Quiz Lady is a comedy, featuring Sandra Oh (Killing Eve, Grey’s Anatomy), Awkwafina (The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians), Jason Schwartzman and Will Ferrell, about a game show-obsessed woman and her chaotic sister coming together to pay off their mother’s gambling debts.

A truly epic, highly anticipated sci-fi and a personal and character-driven comedy film may seem like total opposites but they’re both sure to include some great acting and are well worth watching as a double feature to see how varied and wonderful the world of film can be. 2023 really is a year of fantastic unlikely double features!

Banner credit: Warner Bros / Universal Pictures

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