Many, including Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott have bemoaned the changes in modern cinema, with Scorsese even saying that cinema is dying. While it’s changed as things usually do over time and might never quite be the same as it used to be, I’d argue that much like photography galleries in the age of social media, cinema is still very much alive.

Consider the Barbenheimer phenomenon. You had two very different movies with very different visual styles that somehow both exude existential dread coming out on the same day. On one side you have Barbie The Movie, a bubbly and pink meta story of what happens when Margot Robbie as the stereotypical Barbie doll is troubled by thoughts of death for the first time ever. On the other is Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s grim biopic that stars Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders as the guy who created the atomic bomb.

Chaos on social media ensued, with countless memes being churned out and trailers of what was dubbed ‘Barbenheimer’, a mashup of both films. Many committed to watching both films, one right after the other.


BARBENHEIMER 🩷🖤 #foryou #fyp #foryoupage #barbie #oppenheimer #barbenheimer #film #cinema #margotrobbie #cillianmurphy #christophernolan #gretagerwig

♬ original sound – katé 💅🏼🤪

TikTok credit: Katé Kulp.

Think about what is considered ‘iconic’ photography. For example, Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother and that photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a white dress. A lot of their staying power has come not only because of an individual photograph’s technical feats and historical significance but from how we have interacted with it as a community over the years.

Going to watch Barbie on Friday, the buzz around both movies was suddenly very real. Barbie viewers came in dressed in pink (after raiding my closet I was disappointed to find that I only had two pink items of clothing, one of which was technically lilac with pink hues) and we all bumped into a few of those who had just emerged after watching Oppenheimer, looking grave and slightly traumatised.

Taking home $377 million over its opening weekend, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has since made history, becoming the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman as well as the biggest box office weekend of 2023 so far.

Barbie the movie screening in Brixton, instant photos taken with Fujifilm Instax SQ40

Instant photos taken with the Fujifilm Instax SQ40 at a Barbie screening in London. Photo credit: Isabella Ruffatti.

Oppenheimer exceed expectations and with $174 million it’s Nolan’s highest-grossing film for an opening weekend. It’s been reported that some people have travelled hours across borders to see Oppenheimer in IMAX 70mm.

Like the Wes Anderson trend on TikTok, that got us thinking about shooting different film styles, Barbenheimer has made us excited about movies again.

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