They're Trying To Do 'Barbenheimer' Again, This Time With 'Wicked' And 'Gladiator 2'

July 2nd, 2024 - 2:54 PM EDT by Adam Downer

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A "Wickediator" tweet combining the titles of Wicked and Gladiator 2 like Barbenheimer.

Wicked Part I, a film adaptation of the Broadway musical, moved up its release date to November 22nd, which is coincidentally the same release date for Gladiator II, a sequel to Ridley Scott's critically and commercially successful Gladiator.

If you've been following film memes for the past year, you know what this means.

Wickediator poster

Last summer, the films Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig, and Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan, released on the same day. The tremendous tonal dissonance between the two films led to their simultaneous release being joked about as "Barbenheimer," and the meme – plus both films' positive reception – buoyed them both to box office success.

Since then, the media and perhaps the film industry have been eager to recreate the Barbenheimer phenomenon, and for a time seemingly dubbed any two films that were released on the same day and were of different genres "The Next Barbenheimer," though none of them came close to matching the organic marketing goldmine that was the original combo.

The news that Wicked and Gladiator II will release on the same day led some on social media to give the old "The Next Barbenheimer?" meme another college try, replete with gags about dressing one way for one of the films and a different way for the second film.

Me and the girls

While there has been some Barbenheimer-esque memeing about the Wicked and Gladiator II releases, these brought back old arguments about why Barbenheimer worked in the first place and attempts to recreate it have failed.

Last August, as the failed "next Barbenheimer" attempt "Saw Patrol" was trying to get off the ground, Twitter / X user @MosheIsaacian laid out why Barbenheimer worked, citing: "1. Highly anticipated movies from great directors 2. Overlapping audience that would see both 3. Tonal differences, but not too extreme 4. Wasn’t forced into culture, it just happened."

One could make the case that Wicked is highly anticipated by a certain audience and Ridley Scott returning to the Gladiator franchise could satisfy point 1, but the social media reaction to Wicked trailers has been lukewarm and Ridley Scott's recent output has been a mixed bag — put another way, the films are not as anticipated as Barbie and Oppenheimer, and many on social media felt the attempt to recreate Barbenheimer from Wicked and Gladiator II was forced.

we must stop this There's not going to be another barbenheimer

Of course, there's a chance that "Wickediator" (if people come up with a better portmanteau) could indeed rival the Barbenheimer phenomenon, but as of now it looks like a case of film fans once again trying to make Fetch happen.

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