The opening of the Barbie movie in Japan is facing further setbacks amid momentum gained by an online petition calling on two Hollywood film production companies to disavow a marketing move for the film that uses images of nuclear explosions.
The petition () collected more than 16 thousand signatures over two days until Thursday and demands Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, which produced the biographical film (Oppenheimer), to stop the branding (barbenheimer), which combines the name Barbie and the name Oppenheimer, which helped the film achieve great global success.
The Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie, has grossed over 800 million dollars globally.
Oppenheimer also made more than 400 million dollars and his plot revolves around the nuclear scientist J. P. Morgan. Robert Oppenheimer started his show around the same time last month.
Warner Brothers initially promoted fan-generated jokes (memes) depicting actress Ruby and actor Cillian Murphy along with images of nuclear explosions.
But this was not well received by fans in Japan, which in the coming days was cheered by the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with two atomic bombs 78 years ago.
The hashtag (#No to barbenheimer) went viral on the internet and was republished more than 100 thousand times, prompting the Warner Brothers branch in Japan to issue a rare public criticism of its parent company and an apology a week later.
Mitsuki Takahata, who voiced Barbie in the Japanese dubbed version, wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday that she was upset when she learned about the posts and considered pulling out of a promotional event in Tokyo before the film’s opening screening on August 11.
“This is very, very frustrating,”she said.
On the same day, the US ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel posted a photo of his meeting in Tokyo with Greta Gerwig, the director of the Barbie movie, but the interaction on the internet was lukewarm.
An embassy spokesman said Emmanuel had taken his wife, daughter and their friends to see Barbie and that he was embracing the film’s message of female empowerment.
A date for the screening of Oppenheimer’s film chronicling the making of the atomic bomb has not yet been announced in Japan.
The film was criticized for largely ignoring what this weapon did in Japan before the end of World War II, which destroyed two major cities and caused more than 200 thousand deaths.