Warner Bros. Film Group has issued a formal apology after the studio’s Japanese branch slammed the company’s engagement with “Barbenheimer” memes that some said made light of the real-life bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The controversy began when the official Twitter account of the U.S. headquarters of the movie Barbie reacted to social media posts featuring mashup images of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” meant to promote the tonally distinct films. The trend, known as “Barbenheimer,” gained popularity as fans billed the movies as a double feature.
However, the mashup images sparked outrage from some who felt that it minimized the massive death toll and nuclear destruction resulting from the atomic bombings in 1945. In Japan, the hashtag #NoBarbenheimer trended, and the Japanese distributor of the Barbie movie released a statement condemning the studio’s support for the craze.
Warner Bros. Film Group issued a public apology, expressing regret for its insensitive social media engagement. The studio acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and apologized to those who were offended by the series of inconsiderate reactions.
The controversy highlights the importance of considering historical sensitivities when promoting and releasing films. The anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings is a sensitive time in Japan, and it is crucial for studios to be mindful of the potential impact of their marketing campaigns.
Both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have enjoyed critical and commercial success since their release. “Barbie” has grossed $780.7 million at the box office worldwide, breaking records for a female-directed film’s biggest box office debut. “Oppenheimer” has grossed $405.6 million globally. Despite the success of the films, Warner Bros. Film Group faced backlash for its handling of the Barbenheimer memes.
Warner Bros. Japan has called on the U.S. studio to apologize for its promotion of the controversial memes. The studio has yet to set a release date for “Oppenheimer” in Japan, while “Barbie” is scheduled to hit theaters in the country on August 11.
As the controversy continues to unfold, it serves as a reminder of the power of social media and the need for sensitivity and cultural awareness in online interactions. Warner Bros. Film Group’s apology is a step towards acknowledging the impact of their actions and working towards rectifying the situation.