'Barbenheimer' marketing is everywhere right now. But in Japan, the backlash is growing.

'Barbenheimer' has been trending online for weeks now - an amalgamation between the hit movies of the season Barbie and Oppenheimer

Both films have been getting rave reviews, and ticket sales at cinemas across the world continue to grow. 

But amid all the hype, there's also growing controversy surrounding the marketing behind the Barbenheimer movement. 

Watch: Margot Robbie shows us inside the Barbie dreamhouse. Post continues below.

One of these films is a fantasy comedy film about all things fashion, colour and self-discovery. The other is the Barbie antithesis - a biographical thriller about the makings of a bomb that detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing over 200,000 people.

It's the latter film that has had a bit of a touchy reception in Japan, given it looks at the man responsible for the atomic bomb that left an indelible mark on Japan's history.

Japan's largest distributor of Hollywood films has yet to announce a release date for Oppenheimer. The film has faced criticism from some for not showing the extent of the devastation in Japan following the atomic bombs being dropped.

As for how Barbie got involved in the drama - this week the official US Twitter account for Barbie positively replied to memes featuring atomic bomb images and Barbie together.


The memes were mashups of Barbie's pink wonderland and Ken driving away from the nuclear explosions, the official Twitter account replying: "It's going to be a summer to remember."

And it did not go down well...


What followed was a decent-sized backlash online from fans in Japan, the hashtags #StopBarbieRelease and #NoBarbenheimer trending, and a petition garnering thousands of signatures calling for a boycott.

Barbie's Japanese branch then had to issue a statement, saying the main Barbie account operated by Warner Bros was behind the insensitive Twitter posts/comments. 

"This is not an official movement. We find the reaction to this fan-driven movement from the official US account for the movie Barbie to be extremely regrettable. We take this very seriously and are asking the US head office to take appropriate action. We apologise to those offended by these inconsiderate actions," Barbie Japan said.

After asking their American counterparts to have a long, hard look at themselves, they indeed did. 

"Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement. The studio offers a sincere apology," Warner Bros. Film Group told NBC News in a statement.

One of the biggest points of uncomfortable irony is that Barbie is scheduled for release in Japan on Aug. 11.

That happens to just be two days after the 78th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. So it's connection now to Oppenheimer and the memes surrounding the atomic bomb have left a sour taste in the mouths of many Japanese people. 

The US dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. 


Although the bombing marked the end of World War II, it had a devastating impact on the people of Japan for generations to come. 

Many survivors of the bombings have lasting injuries and illnesses, resulting from the explosions and radiation exposure.

But Japan isn't the only country having issues with Barbie.

Vietnam has banned the film from being released in their country, due to a brief scene in it that features a map showing the hotly contested South China Sea.

China and Vietnam have long had overlapping territorial claims to a stretch of the South China Sea. The Vietnamese government has repeatedly accused Chinese vessels of violating its sovereignty, so for the Barbie movie to use a map that illustrates China occupying that territory has been seen as a deep insult. 

Warner Bros. has since responded, saying: "The map in Barbie Land is a whimsical, child-like crayon drawing. The doodles depict Barbie's make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the real world. It was not intended to make any type of statement."

Although there has been backlash in Japan and Vietnam, the Barbie movie itself is doing incredibly well at the global box office.

So far, it has amassed $916.1 million, and it's expected to hit the coveted billion-dollar benchmark soon. In doing so, director Greta Gerwig will become the first solo female director to have a film cross $1 billion globally. And that's certainly something to celebrate. 

Feature Image: Canva/Twitter @stevereevesart/@DiscussingFilm/Mamamia.