Start the day with the darker fare: Christopher Nolan’s moody “Oppenheimer,” about the physicist who ran the Los Alamos Laboratory during the development of the atomic bomb. A morning screening is best, so you can get some fresh air, some sustenance other than Milk Duds, clear your head before Greta Gerwig’s “live-action, you-go-girl fantasia,” “Barbie,” the second half of the double feature known, for better or worse, as “Barbenheimer.”
“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” two of the summer’s biggest films, premiered yesterday, and, for what feels like 100 years now, breathless meme-makers and discriminating cineastes alike have been chattering about the correct order in which to see the movies back to back. The sanest move seems to be dark before light, or as one Barbenheimist told The Times by email, “My friends and I in Chicago are spending our day at the Alamo Drafthouse and seeing the films the way the Lord herself intended: ‘Oppenheimer’ at 10 a.m. with a black coffee / ‘Barbie’ at 4:20 p.m. with a big Diet Coke.”
Will Barbenheimer be the key, more than three years since the pandemic began, to getting fans back to theaters? The movie industry hopes so. Ticket sales for the year in the U.S. and Canada are down about 20 percent from the same period in 2019. Analysts predict that “Barbie” could take in $100 million domestically through Sunday; “Oppenheimer” around $50 million.
With fans tiring of the typical summer fare of new installments of old franchises, the studios behind the two movies “went all-in on original films, directed by notable auteurs with an interest in pushing the envelope,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at Comscore, which compiles box office data, told The Times. “These are not the tried-and-true safe bets that are the hallmark of the summer movie season,” he said. Will the gambles pay off?
The real die-hards, of course, called in sick and took in Barbenheimer yesterday. If you’re one of them, I hope you went full on and costumed, flannel suit followed by a neon roller-skating ensemble (or vice versa). Even if the prospect of spending an entire day in a movie theater seems excessive — too expensive, too commercial, too much sitting, too little vitamin D — you have to admit the excitement around the double bill is refreshing.
When so much of our time is spent gazing into our own devices, each of us captive to our own tiny screens, a surge of enthusiasm for a group viewing experience feels almost quaint, a remnant from a time before we could meticulously tailor all of our entertainment to our own interests. I’m not overly concerned with whether I like these films. I’m just looking forward to cocreating an experience, to being a member of an exhilarated audience for a day, laughing and clapping and cheering as one.
Which film should you see? Take our quiz.
“I hadn’t played a character that’s been on that classic hero’s journey before.” An interview with Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie, and her castmate Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken.
“I love acting with my body, and Oppenheimer had a very distinct physicality and silhouette, which I wanted to get right.” Cillian Murphy on playing Robert Oppenheimer.
How the Hollywood strikes complicated the movies’ releases.
Nolan spoke to the veteran Times science reporter Dennis Overbye about why Oppenheimer was the most important person who ever lived.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Judge Aileen Cannon set a start date of May 2024 for Donald Trump’s classified documents trial.
Russia deepened its assault on Ukraine’s food exports, attacking ports for the fourth straight night and holding naval exercises in the Black Sea.
Major tech companies, including Google and OpenAI, agreed to A.I. development safeguards under pressure from the White House.
Texas A&M University’s president resigned after getting pushback over the work that a newly appointed director of its journalism program had done promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing criticism for Florida’s new Black history standards, which teach students that enslaved people developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
📺 “Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale” (Tuesday): The standup comedian Jim Gaffigan is one of the kings of dad humor — that is, humor about what it means to be a middle-aged parent (in his case, of five kids). His latest special will be available to stream on Prime Video.
📚 “The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet” (Out now): It’s terrible out there, with record-breaking temperatures all across the world. In his new book, Jeff Goodell — who previously wrote a book about climate change and rising waters — details how extreme heat affects our bodies and communities, and what the future is likely to look like. (It’s not great.)
For a no-cook recipe that’s a perfect combo of cooling and rich, look no further than Ali Slagle’s cucumber-avocado salad. She uses a few smart techniques to make the most of the five ingredients here, like salting the cucumbers first to concentrate their flavor, and soaking the scallions in ice water to crisp them. Then, right at the end, she tosses the avocado cubes vigorously into the salad to break them down, making the lemony dressing especially creamy. Serve this as is for a side dish or light meal. Or embellish it with any combination of cheese, toasted nuts, herbs, halved cherry tomatoes, radishes and jammy eggs for something more satisfying but just as summery.
Stealth wealth: In contrast to the ostentatious ’80s, today’s richest people play down the excess luxuries they consume.
Heat preparedness: Traveling to Europe? Follow these tips to protect yourself in high temperatures.
Focus the mind: Ease your way into meditation with five minutes each morning.
Demystifying a transition: These seven books help you learn to get through menopause.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Make great ice cream
Looking to perfect homemade ice cream? A few tweaks can take a failed science experiment to a delectable dessert. First, chill your ingredients and supplies — the liquid ice cream base, any mix-ins, the machine paddle and even the storage containers. If you’re using an ice cream maker that requires a frozen element, like Wirecutter’s top recommendation, let it freeze completely before churning. Go for quality dairy. If you’re opting for nondairy, blend complementary flavors like peanut butter with cashew milk, or rose with coconut cream. Your ice cream is done when it reaches soft-serve consistency. Prefer harder ice cream? Pop it in the freezer. — Mace Dent Johnson
England vs. Haiti, Women’s World Cup: The U.S. is the favorite to win this World Cup, but victory seems less assured than in tournaments past. For one thing, this U.S. team may fail what Rory Smith calls “the Goldilocks test” — many of its best players are either too old or too young. And the rest of the world keeps getting better: England won last summer’s European championship, Canada won gold at the last Olympics, and Spain’s roster is built largely from the best club team, Barcelona. “This is definitely the most wide-open World Cup in history,” said Janine Beckie, a forward for Canada. Re-airing at 11 a.m. Eastern on FS2.
The U.S. women beat Vietnam, 3-0, including two goals from Sophia Smith, a 22-year-old forward playing in her first World Cup match.
Here is a schedule of the tournament. Because it’s in Australia and New Zealand, much of it will take place in the middle of the night in the U.S.