Warner Bros. marketing head says “Barbenheimer” phenomenon was “absolutely a surprise”

One of the biggest entertainment stories of the year was the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon — the mash-up of two very different release-date twinsies, Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Greta Gerwig‘s cotton candy-colored comedy starring Margot Robbie and Christopher Nolan‘s star-studded nuclear age biopic “couldn’t be more different,” says Warner Bros. Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Dana Nussbaum, but sure enough, moviegoers showed up in droves for a double feature on July 21.

“That was absolutely a surprise to us. But one that we found incredibly delightful,” Nussbaum said at a New York Advertising Week Q&A, according to Deadline.

She added, “That was a great example of a surprise. I would love to take credit for that, by the way, but [it was] absolutely, not at all architected by us. It’s something that happened very organically, but something that we leaned into.”

Nussbaum expressed, “When we saw that this was out there, and that there was conversation popping up around it, we made sure that Greta and Margot … went to see [Universal Pictures’] Oppenheimer. They took a photo and it sort of kicked off this entire spirit, which was so incredible, because at the outset, people wanted to pit the two films against each other.”

In the end, there was more than enough money to go around. Barbie made $1.4 billion worldwide, while Oppenheimer became Nolan’s third-highest-grossing movie ever, with $942 million globally — the second-highest-grossing R-rated film in history.

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