Barbie vs. Oppenheimer Showtimes: Which Are Virginia Residents More Excited For?

This Friday presents the showdown of the summer, and in a massive upset, it's not a matchup at Virginia sportsbooks.

Instead, two heavyweight films will go head-to-head at the cinema. And in a refreshing twist in the dawning age of ChatGP, we're talking about two original films. Not the latest "John Wick" or another "Mission Impossible."

Instead, it's Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" going up against Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer." Two films that have little, if anything, to do with one another. Except for the fact that both filmmakers' devoted fans have helped create a fun, albeit massive, culture rivalry ahead of Friday's releases. took a beat from Virginia betting apps and used Google Trends to calculate the relative search volume for the queries “Barbie movie” and “Oppenheimer movie” in each state across the U.S. After completing the trends for the dates July 1, 2023 through July 17, 2023, we determined which film audiences in each state were most interested in seeing.

So if you're curious how residents in Virginia are leaning, just read on.

Virginia Barbie vs. Oppenheimer Search Volume

State Barbie Search Volume Oppenheimer Search Volume Winner

Nolan Faces Uphill Battle

While there's little doubt Nolan's World War II epic will impress audiences, Google search volume in the state of Virginia strongly hints that "Barbie" will be the top draw at multiplexes in the weeks to come. In fact, based on BetVirginia research, "Barbie" has generated more than five times the search volume as "Oppenheimer."

How can this be? After all, Nolan is among the most can't-miss filmmakers going. This is the man who gave us Heath Ledger as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Audiences are still baffled by his twist ending in "Inception." And his most loyal fans ride for 2006's "The Prestige" as his true triumph. To put it simply, Nolan is one of the few directors whose work demands to be seen on the big screen, rather than streaming at home.

His problem? Running into the runaway train that is both Gerwig's directing career, and the PR hype that has surrounded "Barbie" for a couple years. 

What Makes Audiences Curious About "Barbie"

Before 2017, Gerwig was an acclaimed, if not household name, as an actress, mostly in supporting roles in independent films. Everything changed in 2017, when her coming of age drama "Ladybird," which she wrote and directed, stole the spotlight during awards season.

Gerwig became the fifth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director, and the film also scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Needless to say, a tough act to follow. And critics wondered if "Ladybird" would prove to be a one-hit wonder. Then Gerwig's followup, 2019's new take on "Little Women," garnered another six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

All in all, Gerwig has captured both male and female audiences with her first two films in a way that has enabled her to take a massive swing with her third picture. One that includes Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and Will Ferrell among the players looking to work with one of the most exciting directors of our time.

While Nolan shouldn't feel too badly — "Oppenheimer" currently is pacing around 93% on Rotten Tomatoes to 89% for "Barbie" — Virginia audiences at least out of the gate are prioritizing Gerwig's take on one of America's most famous blondes.

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Thomas Leary is a news editor and writer for He previously worked at Sports Business Journal for moer than six years, where he helped identify emerging sectors across sports business, such as legalized gambling, and helped launch the publication’s digital newsletter division.

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