‘Barbie’ hits theaters in Japan amid ‘Barbenheimer’ controversy


“Barbie”, starring Margot Robbie in the title role, finally hit big screens in Japan on Friday, where “Barbenheimer” memes linking the doll-themed film with the atomic bomb caused a stir and made the distributor apologise ahead of the release.

Fans have flocked to the theaters to watch the Hollywood blockbuster on national holiday marking the first day of Japan’s extended summer holiday week. Cinema goers, in Tokyo, are admiring the film in their own words, with some saying it’s  amazing.

The film has already topped $1 billion in global box office since its July 21 debut, making writer and director Greta Gerwig the first female filmmaker to surpass that benchmark as a solo director.

Barbie’s success further boosted by the coupling with “Oppenheimer”, the biopic chronicling the creation of the atomic bomb during World War Two that opened on the same weekend.

However, the “Barbenheimer” combo irked people in Japan, as the nation earlier this month marked the memorials of the U.S atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 78 years ago.

In now-deleted posts on platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Warner Bros’ “Barbie” marketing account had latched on to fan-produced memes that depicted Robbie with “Oppenheimer” actor Cillian Murphy alongside images of nuclear blasts.

A Change.org petition, launched on Aug 1, demanded that Warner Bros and Universal Pictures call a halt to the #Barbenheimer hashtag on social media. The petition has reached about 22,600 signatures to date.

A #NoBarbenheimer hashtag trended in Japan at the time, prompting the distributor’s Japan division to issue a rare public criticism of its American parent company, which then followed with an apology last week.



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