View in Browser Our Journalism Needs Your Support Please Donate Today
California Local Logo
Graphic which spells out The Newsletter.


By Sharan Street
Published Jul 24, 2023

The simultaneous release of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” ignited a firestorm of creative memes, including this poster on Etsy. The simultaneous release of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” ignited a firestorm of creative memes, including this poster on Etsy. Image credit: TheDesignsVault   Etsy

Box Office Bombshell

For those who haven’t looked yet, it’s happened: Barbenheimer—the portmanteau created by the simultaneous theatrical releases of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer—has its own Wikipedia page. Together, according to Variety, the two films have created “the biggest collective box office weekend of the pandemic era, as well as the fourth-biggest overall weekend in history.”

Aside from the discomfiture that comes from this weekend bonanza happening as writers and actors are out on strike, it’s still refreshing to hear about audiences heading back to the theater, watching movies together in the dark, on a big screen, immersing themselves in a director’s unique artistic vision.

Nolan should be gratified by $80.5 million in ticket sales as of Sunday morning—a remarkable haul for a serious R-rated historical drama about the dawning of the Atomic Age. While it drew a 65 percent male audience compared to Barbie’s 65 percent female audience, many moviegoers saw both films. The National Association of Theater Owners projected that 200,000 people would see both movies the same day on opening weekend.

As for Gerwig’s Barbie, the $155 million domestic take is not only the largest opening weekend of 2023 but also the biggest debut ever for a female director. The movies that came closest were superhero-powered: Captain Marvel (directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) and Wonder Woman (directed by Patty Jenkins).


Made in California

While Barbie may not be a superhero, she’s definitely a cultural icon—and one that was born in the Golden State. This week, Jonathan Vankin delves into the Southern California toy industry. The biggest name is Mattel, creators of Barbie and Hot Wheels. Between the two brands, Mattel turned both girls and boys into little consumers, eagerly collecting the latest models.

But there were other toy manufacturers who benefited from both the area’s shipping infrastructure and its people power—the creative folks who created movies and television shows, built theme parks, and did design work in aerospace and high tech. We take a look at some of the greatest hits, from a soft plush toy to computer software.


Barbie, Mattel, and California’s Toy Empire

Barbie is suddenly a movie star, but the toy has long played a big role in one of Southern California’s major industries.
Here's how the iconic Barbie doll and its manufacturer, toy giant Mattel, built an industry in Southern California that pours billions into the state’s economy.

Ten Trendsetting Toys

In 2001, Barbie faced her first real competition when MGA’s Bratz hit the market.
Barbie is the most famous California-born toy. But there are other iconic playthings that were created or brought to market here.

Celluloid Dreams, Celluloid Realities

Much better known than Southern California’s toy manufacturing industry is the entertainment industry—aka Hollywood—which still defines the region, even after the fall of the studio system. The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild are taking a joint stand against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for the first time since 1960 (back when Barbie was just beginning her reign). So it’s an appropriate time to look back on the glory of the past. Film critic Richard von Busack looks at Hollywood through a different lens—not focusing at the fantasies created here but but rather on which movies have captured the innate characteristics of the industry’s home state.


California Plays Itself

Dramatic coastal views, barren deserts, a lush Central Valley, and multiple mountain ranges allow California to emulate many spots around the globe.
The Golden State has masqueraded as everything from the Sahara Desert to the Swiss Alps. But which films best capture the real California?


Impact Report Image for decorative use


California Local logo

San Joaquin County's Homepage

Our overview page for San Joaquin County is updated daily with the latest state and local news, weather alerts, local government announcements and local blog posts and news snippets from community groups and individuals.
Direct your browser to sanjoaquin.californialocal.com to catch up on the latest news in California and San Joaquin County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!


California Good Business Directory logo

Good Business Directory


Giving Back is Good Business
Support California Local and get listed in the Good Business Directory.
Use promotion code CALOCAL2020 to get $200 off your yearly listing.


Get to Know a Group

Chest of Hope logo Chest of Hope

Created in 2005 by friends and volunteers, Chest of Hope raises funds to support women and orphans who are suffering from domestic violence.

→ Learn more

  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent Local News

→ View All

• Four Invasive Species Threaten California Water Systems

There’s a possible rise of four invasive animals in California—another consequence from downpours last winter and spring. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services warned about a potential population surge due to storm-related flooding.

(07/24/2023) → Read the full The Sacramento Bee report

• Sacramento Created a Nightlife Manager Job Nine Months Ago. Here’s What She’s Done So Far.

When Tina Lee-Vogt started as Sacramento’s first nighttime economy manager, officials tasked her with ensuring safe and successful nightlife for entertainment businesses and patrons throughout the city.

(07/18/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Five Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe in Extreme Heat

As oppressive heat continues to blanket much of the U.S., it’s especially crucial to take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones—furry friends included.

(07/17/2023) → CapPublicRadio
  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent Statewide News

→ View All

• Goat Herders Prevent California Wildfires. Most Haven’t Seen Their Families in Years

Luis Yauri Oyola hopes one day to buy a tractor to start a business in Peru; he estimates that he is six years away from that goal, for which he will have spent more than a decade of his life living thousands of miles away from his family. He is on call 24/7 and doesn’t leave the job site except for necessities.

(07/20/2023) → Read the full The Sacramento Bee report

• California’s “Cheapest” Cities Hit With Biggest Rent Hikes

The lack of enough places for everyone to live has sent coastal rent prices inland, removing large swaths of previously cheaper rental units.

(07/20/2023) → CalMatters

• California Farmworkers Embroiled in Labor Investigations to Get Free Lawyers

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will spend $4.5 million on free legal services for undocumented workers involved in state investigations of wage theft or other labor violations. The lawyers can help with their immigration cases.

(07/20/2023) → CalMatters