No date in the cinema release calendar can match July 21 for sheer glamour, excitement and rivalry, when ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ both hit London’s cinema screenings. With all due respect to that now-distant January day that blessed us with the meme-and-discourse-laden double-bill that was ‘M3GAN’ and ‘Tár’, #Barbenheimer is the biggie for anyone with even a passing interest in movies, pop culture, rollerblading or nuclear physics.
But where to go to see them? Naturally, ‘Oppenheimer’ – which recounts an epochal moment in human history with all of Christopher Nolan’s trademark gravitas – has less opportunity to show off. So let’s focus on the former, because there are ‘Barbie’ screenings and then there are ‘ZOMG! BARBIE!!’ screenings. You can keep it simple and just see the film, box of popcorn, minimum of fuss, or you take the pink pill and enjoy Greta Gerwig’s slice of Ken-tertainment complete with bespoke cocktails, dress-up opportunities and enough pink to repaint Big Ben a fetching shade of flamingo.
If you’re in the immersive camp – and hopefully you are – here’s where the Barbie army are heading, and how to join the fun on Friday week. There are screenings for every taste:
1. For the ultimate pound-stretching ‘Barbenheimer’ double-bill
‘Barbenheimer’ – the idea of taking in a ‘Barbie’/’Oppenheimer’ double-feature – took its place in the zeitgeist the moment Tom Cruise tweeted about it. Five hours of solid movie-watching may not be for everyone – we’re not all Tom Cruise – but if you’re up for double-billing the two films, there are plenty of DIY options on offer out there. Vue West End, for instance, has a screening of ‘Barbie’ at 5.30pm, followed by ‘Oppenheimer’ at 8.20pm, with a leg-stretching, popcorn-replenishing 25-minute break between the two. With supersaver tickets, the double bill comes in at £19.98. Look out for Cineworld’s Unlimited scheme for similarly cheap options – albeit as part of a longer-term membership.
Best of all, Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix is offering unbeatable £7 tickets to both movies, so you can see ‘Barbie’ at 6pm on Saturday, July 22 and ‘Oppenheimer’ at 8pm for only £14. Almost as bargainsome is Mile End’s Genesis, where tickets are £7.50 and a possible #Barbenheimer double bill on the same day might take in ‘Oppenheimer’ (3.40pm) and ‘Barbie’ (9pm), with time for dinner in between.
The canny and generous people at Battersea’s The Cinema in the Power Station have cooked up a dreamy Barbenheimer double feature on Saturday, July 22. ‘Barbie’ will start at 5.20pm, before ‘Oppenheimer’ at 8.15pm – both in the gleaming new Dolby Cinema. Best of all? The cinema is offering free popcorn and drink refills between screenings for anyone with tickets to both movies.
2. To put the ‘bar’ into ‘Barbie’
There’s a fizzy vibe at Hackney’s lovely The Castle Cinema, which is mixing up some special Barbie and Oppenheimer-adjacent potions, and at The Lexi in Kensal Rise from July 28. Form an orderly queue for a ‘Barbie and Kensal’ cocktail. We have no idea what’s in it, but the pun is Kenergising. On a similarly pink note, ArtHouse Crouch End is serving up £5 cosmopolitans on opening weekend, complete with pink glitter (obvs).
3. For the Insta likes
Barnes’s Olympic Studios will be pretty in pink for its ‘Barbie’ screenings, with pink sweets, pink screens and a special, Barbie-licious cocktail on offer at the bar. There’s also a fancy-dress party planned, with members invited to dress up as Barbie or Ken, and a ‘Barbie’ playlist welcoming viewers as they head into screenings. Over at the very swanky The Cinema at Selfridges, they’re going all out, with pink lighting, pink candyfloss, staff clad in Barbie-inspired uniforms, and a pink vintage photobooth to capture the occasion for posterity.
Regent Street Cinema, which starts screening ‘Barbie’ from July 21, is also embracing the pinkness, with wigs and a Barbie-fied backdrop provided for a few pre-movie selfies.
4. For the dress-up pro
The truly dedicated Barbie-nista will want to arrive for screenings in character – and naturally, several London cinemas will be welcoming them with special dress-up screenings. Rich Mix is going with a ‘think pink’ dress code for opening night on July 21, while it’s a similarly extra vibe at one of Picturehouse’s many dress-up screenings.
5. If you’re called Ken… or know someone who is
Vue cinemas will be bathing in Kenergy by dishing out free Barbie Tango Ice Blasts to any audience member called Ken (and with the ID to prove it). You don’t have to be called Ken to pick up one of Odeon’s collectible Barbie cups. It comes in a fetching electric pink and with a box of popcorn.