Cillian Murphy – Barbenheimer was a “wonderful moment for cinema”

Actor Cillian Murphy has said that last summer’s Barbenheimer phenomenon was “a wonderful moment for cinema.”

The viral trend led to thousands of fans booking tickets to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day.

It emerged after a series of memes that highlighted the fact that two films with such different tones shared the same release date.

Murphy praised the organic nature of the trend, adding that “it wasn’t some amazingly designed marketing strategy.”

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Asked by BBC culture and media editor Katie Razzall if the two films helped each other at the box office, Murphy said: “Yes, they did. And it was a great moment for cinema.”

“I think they’re both great movies that couldn’t be more different. And I think it was wonderful that it wasn’t some incredibly designed marketing strategy by the studio.

“It was the people, you know, it was the Internet and the people who invented this Barbenheimer thing and, yes, it was a wonderful time for cinema.”

Barbie has grossed $1.44 billion (£1.14 billion) at the global box office, while Oppenheimer has grossed $956 million (£759 million).

Both films are nominated for best picture at the Oscars on March 10, but Murphy explained that he tries not to let awards rumors affect his performances.

“I know everyone says this, but you never start making a movie with awards in mind,” he said. “That’s not what we do. It’s impossible to make a movie that way.

“But, when a film connects with audiences like this one in particular in a way that none of us could have anticipated… it’s enormously flattering and enormously humbling and it’s lovely to see that.”

Murphy is seen as the co-leader in the lead actor category alongside The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti, but says he doesn’t spend much time worrying about the outcome.

“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “It’s kind of a waste of energy. I feel very excited and honored to be [mentioned] in the same breath as all those wonderful actors.”