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Did Margot Robbie mastermind 'Barbenheimer'? She refused to move 'Barbie' premiere date for 'Oppenheimer'

Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy spoke about the summer movie phenomenon together for the first time.
/ Source: TODAY

For a few weeks this summer, "Barbie" on "Oppenheimer" combined to form something greater than either individual movie: Barbenheimer.

The wildly different films, both released July 21, seemed to unite both spectrums of the pop culture universe. One, a pink, plastic, meta story of Barbie finding herself in the real world. The other, a grim, prescient story of J. Robert Oppenheimer creating the atomic bomb during World War II.

Despite the stark contrast between the two heavily films, moviegoers were eager to attempt a combined viewing, catching both “Barbie" and “Oppenheimer” in the same nearly five-hour sitting, or with a break in between.

And to think: It almost didn’t happen.

In December, "Barbie" star Margot Robbie and "Oppenheimer" star Cillian Murphy sat down in an interview for Variety's "Actors on Actors" series about how the moment unfolded, and nearly didn't.

During the conversation, Robbie — who also produced "Barbie" —revealed that "Oppenheimer" producer Chuck Roven recommended she move the "Barbie" premiere date.

“One of your producers, Chuck Roven, called me, because we worked together on some other projects. And he was like, ‘I think you guys should move your date,’ Robbie said.

Robbie refused, saying, "And I was like, ‘We’re not moving our date. If you’re scared to be up against us, then you move your date.'" has reached out to Roven for comment.

The two went on to talk about the cultural impact of Barbenheimer, which led to fan art, memes and debate. Even Murphy — who does not own a smartphone and viral earlier this year for asking what a meme was — was aware of the extent of the phenomenon.

Speaking to Robbie, Murphy clarified that he does, indeed, know what a meme is — but that's only because he's a dad. "I have teenage boys, two teenage boys, so they're doing this," he said, reenacting his sons showing him their phone. "And I do know what a meme is."

"Now I know there are memes about me not knowing what a meme is," Murphy continued, to which Robbie replied that it's a "great" meme.

When Robbie pressed if Murphy had seen the "Barbenheimer" memes specifically, Murphy smiled and said it was "hard to avoid any of that stuff."

"Wasn't there some great ones?" Robbie asked. "Some people are so clever with the things that they come up with."

Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer."
Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer."Alamy Stock Photo

Both had the similar experience of people thinking their films' marketing departments were creating the online buzz, which wasn't the case. Robbie would tell them, "No, this is the world doing this."

"And I think it happened because both movies were good, that's the thing," Murphy said. "There was a sort of a diversity offered by both movies."

The former "Peaky Blinders" star continued, explaining that there was an overall "diversity of stuff in the cinema" over the past summer, which neither the studios nor the actors could have predicted.

"And it may never happen again," Murphy concluded, with Robbie piping in to say it was "wild seeing that many people going to the movies."

Margot Robbie as Barbie in "Barbie"Warner Bros.

But which movie ultimately won the summer box office?

On July 23, Warner Bros. reported that "Barbie" opened with $155 million at the North American box office, while "Oppenheimer" domestically amassed $80.5 million, Universal confirmed.

NBCUniversal is the parent company of