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A film reel, popcorn, soda, headphones, and a movie ticket for a blog about the social media impact of the Barbie and Oppenheimer movies.

Barbie vs. Oppenheimer: Which Movie Is Making the Biggest Social Media Impact?

Ann-Derrick Gaillot

Jul 13, 2023

The two most-anticipated movies of the summer come out on the same day — and they couldn’t be more different. Yet social media is abuzz about both of them in the lead-up to their debut in theaters on July 21. 

Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, follows the iconic doll and her longtime boyfriend, Ken, as they leave the toy world and enter the real one. On the other hand, Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, tells the true story of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer as he develops the atomic bomb during World War II. 

The digital realm is filled with chatter about both movies, but how are Barbie and Oppenheimer conversations measuring up against each other? We used our consumer intelligence platform, Radarly, to find out. 

Table of Contents

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Mentions over Time

A line graph showing a higher volume of social media posts about the Barbie movie than those about Oppenheimer.

While posts and reposts about Barbie and Oppenheimer were relatively equal at the beginning of 2023, that all started to change in March, shortly before the first look of the Barbie movie was released. Since then, the volume of posts about Barbie has skyrocketed beyond those about Oppenheimer, which have dipped slightly since June. 

In total, there have been nearly 7 million social media posts about Barbie this year, reaching a potential audience of nearly 9.5 billion people and garnering more than 277 million engagement actions.

Widgets from Meltwater's consumer intelligence platform showing the volume of posts and reposts, as well as potential audience and engagement, of the Barbie movie.

Share of Engagement

A ring chart showing that posts about Barbie had an overwhelmingly higher share of engagement than those about Oppenheimer.

Barbie is also dominating the conversation when it comes to engagement actions, such as likes and shares. About 89% of all engagement actions in these conversations have been on posts about the Mattel doll-focused film.

Mentions of Cast Members

Two charts showing the volume of posts over time about casts members from each movie

Our consumer intelligence platform also shows us who has been drumming up the most buzz about each film. Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie, is certifiably the star of the summer. She has been mentioned in more than 410,000 posts in total, eclipsing mentions of her co-star Ryan Gosling (248,000 posts), who plays Ken, and director Greta Gerwig (189,000 posts). 

Meanwhile, Cillian Murphy, who plays J. Robert Oppenheimer, has racked up the most posts of his cast at about 63,000. That’s definitely a significant number, but it’s still no match for Barbie’s biggest names. 

Post Origin by Country

Bar graphs showing the geographic origins of posts about Barbie and Oppenheimer.

But where are these posters located? For both Oppenheimer and Barbie, the vast majority of posts and reposts are coming from authors based in the United States. Notably, posts about Barbie are more distributed across other countries, with Brazil generating the second-highest volume of posts, followed by the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. For Oppenheimer, almost 50% of posts are coming from the United States, while 2.7%, the second-highest volume, are originating in the United Kingdom.

Author Demographics

Bar charts showing the ages and genders of people who posted on social media about Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Part of Barbie’s long history is that she was almost exclusively marketed to girls — that gender skew is reflected in the author demographics of social media posts about the Barbie movie. Many more women are posting about Barbie than men, 58% of whom are between the ages of 18 and 24. 

On the flip side, a higher proportion of men than women are posting about Oppenheimer, with 52.7% of them being between the ages of 18 to 24. And while both films are generating some buzz with the 25 to 34 age group, a higher proportion of authors ages 35 and up are posting about Oppenheimer than Barbie.


Ring graphs showing the sentiment of posts about Barbie and Oppenheimer.

When it comes to sentiment, about 40% of posts about Barbie are positive compared to 7.5% of negative ones. Sentiment about Oppenheimer, which covers much graver subject matter, is understandably more mixed. About 27% of posts are positive compared to about 12% of negative ones.

Tip: Learn more about The What, Why And How of Sentiment Analysis and about Sentiment Analysis API

In the end, both Barbie and Oppenheimer are drawing the kind of attention any movie maker dreams about. But, as the consumer intelligence data shows, it is undeniably a blockbuster Barbie summer. 

Learn more about how Meltwater's consumer intelligence platform can help you understand what drives your audience — get a free demo by filling out the form below.