It’s finally here: Barbenheimer weekend.
After months of promotion and social media buzz, Barbie and Oppenheimer hit theaters today. (Well, actually last night if you happened to see a Thursday show.)
The two very different films became intertwined thanks to a shared release date — something Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan allegedly wasn’t happy about.
Barbenheimer is harmless.
If anything, it’s boosting the awareness around Barbie and Oppenheimer, which will hopefully translate into higher ticket sales for both movies. I saw on Twitter yesterday that theaters have been adding showtimes at unusual times — we’re talking 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. — to accommodate the demand for these movies. And if moviegoers are buying tickets to create a double feature, go for it.
I’m going to miss out on the fun of Barbenheimer weekend. I thought of buying a ticket for Oppenheimer at the fancy IMAX at the Air & Space Museum over by Dulles Airport too late and had to settle for a showtime next weekend.
Caitlin and I both want to see Barbie, but never figured out a sitter situation. I did propose that one of us see it one night and the other the following night and then compare notes as if we saw it together, but Caitlin didn’t buy into that plan. We’ll probably wait for Barbie to hit home release instead of trying to figure out how we can see it together.
Are you catching Barbie, Oppenheimer or both this weekend? Let me know if you’ve planned a double feature and how that goes.
As always, you can become a paid subscriber to Popculturology for coverage. For $5 a month or $50 a year, this subscription brings you the two weekly editions of the newsletter plus Deep SNL Thoughts and The Box Office Report.
I love writing this newsletter, and if you’re interested in becoming a supporting subscriber, please consider upgrading your subscription.
And regardless of your subscriber level, I appreciate you reading Popculturology.
- The News: The Marvels unite, Aquaman sequel reshoots, Nolan and Bond
- Trailer Watch: Harley Quinn, The Creator
- Odds and Ends: Ryan Gosling’s Ken things, Turtle tots
I love writing about pop culture, and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you enjoy reading Popculturology, please consider gifting a subscription to a friend.
New look at The Marvels
The Marvels might be the most Marvel Cinematic Universe-y of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe projects.
First off, it’s a sequel to Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. And with Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan in a starring role, it’s also a sequel to the Ms. Marvel TV show. Oh, and then there’s Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, who we saw gain her powers in WandaVision. And as Entertainment Weekly points out in a new feature on The Marvels, the film also serves as a sequel to Avengers: Endgame and Secret Invasion.
Check out the EW piece for a bunch of interesting stories from the process of making The Marvels. I learned that Zawe Ashton, who plays villain Dar-Benn, is engaged to Tom Hiddelson. Loki himself!
Three rounds of reshoots — and no Batman — for the Aquaman sequel
With James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy and accompanying cinematic universe reboot two years away, Warner Bros.’ superhero franchise in its current form has limped to an embarrassing finish. Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash were all box office flops, with The Flash likely to gross less than Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern movie brought in over a decade ago.
There are still two movies left to go on the DCEU docket before Superman: Legacy swoops in: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and Blue Beetle. While I’m still unclear how Blue Beetle fits into the reboot, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is very clearly a sequel to a film that grossed $1.14 billion worldwide after its 2018 release.
The movie was in the middle of postproduction and beginning test screenings that summer. While a timeline is not clear, from summer 2022 to the beginning of 2023, The Lost Kingdom underwent two rounds of reshoots and held several uninspiring test screenings.
After one round of test screenings, new Warners film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy got involved, as they were running point on DC until Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav could find a permanent DC boss to replace [Walter Hamada]. Sources say that in the fall, Abdy took a strong creative stance and got involved in the editing of one cut. However, when that version tested, it scored lower than the previous version. That led to another round of reshoots.
A third round of reshoots came after Gunn and Peter Safran took the reins at DC Studios, with “Gunn [weighing] in on the most recent cut, and the leadership approved a five-day shoot. Sources say the shoot went so well that Wan and company completed what they needed in only four.”
The multiple rounds of reshoots also completely cut Batman from the film. Michael Keaton originally played Batman in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, with Hamada envisioning “Michael Keaton’s version of the character to be akin to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel movies.” Keaton’s scene was later reshot with Ben Affleck as Batman before the scene was cut altogether.
Warner Bros. must have a ton of confidence that the Aquaman sequel will be worth the money they’ve already sunk into it. After the recent series of box office flops, the studio can’t miss on such a massive level again.
Also, rough return for Keaton. Between the three projects he shot scenes as Batman for — Batgirl, The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — the results were a film shelved as a tax write-off, a box office flop and a cut scene.
Christopher Nolan still wants to direct a Bond movie
There probably hasn’t been a name more rumored to be attached to directing a James Bond movie over the past decade than Christopher Nolan. He’s openly expressed his interest in doing so too, but we’ve yet to see that match happen in real life.
While promoting Oppenheimer, Nolan once again discussed the 007 franchise.
“It has to be the right moment in your creative life where you can express what you want to express and really burrow into something within the appropriate constraints because you would never want to take on something like that and do it wrong,” Nolan told the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Deadline). “You wouldn’t want to take on a film without being fully committed to what you bring to the table creatively. So as a writer, casting, everything — it’s a full package. You’d have to be really needed and wanted in terms of bringing the totality of what you bring to a character. Otherwise, I’m very happy to be first in line to see whatever they do.”
I have to wonder if the “fully committed to what you bring to the table creatively” part might keep Nolan from ever directing a Bond movie. Franchise producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have an almost unprecedented lock on how the Bond movies move forward. Would they allow Nolan to not only write but cast his own actor to play James Bond?
As the franchise looks to reboot after the Daniel Craig era, there’s no announced timeframe for when a new Bond actor will be revealed or even when the next Bond movie hits theaters. I might’ve missed it, but I haven’t read anywhere what Nolan is working on after Oppenheimer …
- Stream Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 next month. The final movie in Gunn’s trilogy hits Disney+ on Aug. 2.
- Only Murders in the Building sets a return date. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez return to solve a new murder on Aug. 8.
Enjoy reading Popculturology? Share this edition!
Season 3 of Harley Quinn wrapped up with Bruce Wayne in jail and Harley Quinn now a member of the Batfamily. Not your usual starting point for a story set within the Batman universe — but Harley Quinn is not your usual show set within the Batman universe.
Harley Quinn Season 3 premieres on Max on July 27.
I have high hopes for The Creator. The trailers have looked great. I loved director Gareth Edwards’ Monsters. But is it a bit weird that in 2023 this movie positions AI as what needs to be saved? Yeah, there’s an AI character who looks like a little girl, but as we’ve seen with the writers’ and actors’ strikes, AI is the villain. It’s here to steal jobs and sap creativity.
The Creator opens on Sept. 29.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
- ‘Friends With Fangs’: How What We Do in the Shadows Became TV’s Funniest Show (Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast)
- Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros., and the Struggle for the Soul of Movies (Keith Phipps, The Ringer)
- The Complicated Legacy of The Dark Knight (Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter)
- He created one of the greatest graphic novels ever. Where do you go from there? (Blake Nelson, The San Diego Union-Tribune)
- Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’s Many Easter Eggs and Callbacks (Jess Bacon, Fandom)
Spread the news! Share Popculturology on social media.
KEN things Ryan Gosling can’t live without
I’m impressed at how thoroughly Ryan Gosling has committed to not just playing Ken in Barbie but also carrying that vibe into the film’s promotion.
This is adorable. Everything we’ve seen from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem makes me hopeful that this movie has the heart and humor that was missing from the Michael Bay movies.
That’s the end of this issue of Popculturology. Thanks for reading. If you don’t already subscribe, please hit the “Subscribe now” button. Tapping the ♥️ at the bottom of each post also helps the newsletter.