On #Barbenheimer and competition

Do you think the people who made the movie “Barbie” are concerned that “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s dark tale of the creation of the atomic bomb, is opening on the same weekend?

After all, your average moviegoer is going to see at most one of them this weekend. Surely they studios are competing for your moviegoing dollar.

While I’m certain there is some friendly competitive spirit among the creators of these films — and I’m also sure “Barbie” will beat “Oppenheimer” in the box office numbers — I can tell you that for the most part, the “Barbie” people and the “Oppenheimer” people are cheering each other on.


  • People are going to the movies less since the pandemic — and it’s no wonder, since most of what’s on offer are rehashes of the Marvel universe or franchises from decades ago. “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” together, may get people back in the habit of going to the movies to see regular old fun or fascinating films. That helps the whole industry.
  • This isn’t really a competition. Both films will be showing for weeks. Moviegoers don’t have to choose just one.
  • The incredible contrast between the two movies has created a popular set of memes called #Barbenheimer, featuring witty mashups between pink plastic fantasy and Death, the destroyer of worlds. Every meme boosts awareness for both movies.

Don’t compete if you can create a market together

Competition stimulates action. But, especially for authors, it’s not the only way to succeed.

If you and another author have produced books on the same topic, that’s an opportunity for reviewers to write a roundup on the topic. It’s another reason to talk about why the challenge you write about is real. And it’s a way to differentiate yourself and your serious colleagues from the trivial or low-quality books that don’t matter.

It’s not as if people will buy only one book. Books are cheap.

So make friends with your fellow authors. Blurb their books: why not get the free advertising from the name of your book on the back of their book? Suggest them for panels. Send them consulting work and speeches you can’t do.

If you’re an author, competing is pointless; you and your “competitors” are actually building a market together.

And that often true even if what your selling isn’t books or blockbuster movies.

Happy Barbenheimer weekend.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.