Oppenheimer is an upcoming biographical film based on the 2005 book American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. The film is written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It is a co-production between Universal Pictures, Syncopy Inc., and Atlas Entertainment, with Nolan producing the film alongside Emma Thomas and Charles Roven.
The film is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the Manhattan Project—the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons.
- Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer
- Emily Blunt as Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer
- Matt Damon as Leslie Groves
- Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss
- Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock
- Rami Malek
- Benny Safdie as Edward Teller
- Michael Angarano as Robert Serber
- Josh Hartnett as Ernest Lawrence
- Kenneth Branagh
- Dane DeHaan
- Dylan Arnold as Frank Oppenheimer
- David Krumholtz as Isidor Isaac Rabi
- Alden Ehrenreich Matthew Modine as Vannevar Bush
- Jack Quaid
- David Dastmalchian
- Jason Clarke
- Josh Peck as Kenneth Bainbridge
- Devon Bostick as Seth Neddermeyer
- Alex Wolff
- Tony Goldwyn
- Scott Grimes
- Josh Zuckerman
- James D’Arcy
- Matthias Schweighöfer as Werner Heisenberg
- Christopher Denham as Klaus Fuchs
- David Rysdahl
- Guy Burnet as George Eltenton
- Danny Deferrari as Enrico Fermi
- Louise Lombard
- Harrison Gilbertson
- Emma Dumont as Jackie Oppenheimer
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Hans Bethe
- Trond Fausa Aurvåg as George Kistiakowsky
- Olli Haaskivi
- Gary Oldman as Harry S. Truman
- Olivia Thirlby
- Casey Affleck
- Tom Conti as Albert Einstein
Oppenheimer is the sixth collaboration between Nolan and Murphy and the first starring Murphy. To prepare for the role, the actor read “an awful lot” of Oppenheimer’s life, which he said was a summary. Casting was so secretive that some actors did not know what role they were playing until signing the contract. Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and Emily Blunt took a pay cut for the film, earning $4 million each instead of their usual $10-20 million.
In December 2020, Warner Bros. Pictures announced plans to release its 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry. Christopher Nolan, who has worked with the studio on all of its films since Insomnia (2002), expressed disbelief at the decision. In January 2021, the media mentioned the possibility that Nolan’s next film could be the first not to be financed or distributed by Warner Bros. Nolan previously stood by the studio’s decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) at the same time, saying he felt it was appropriate for the situation, but said he was left out of discussions about the delay of his Tenet (2020) film.
In September 2021, it was announced that Nolan would write and direct a World War II biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the creator of the atomic bomb, with Cillian Murphy in talks for the role. Nolan approached several studios for the project, including Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Apple Studios, due to his strained relationship with Warner Bros. According to insiders, Paramount pulled out early after CEO and president Jim Gianopulos was replaced by Brian Robbins, who favored more streaming services. On September 14, Universal was confirmed to finance and distribute the film, with production expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. Some of Nolan’s demands included a $100 million production budget and an equal marketing budget, a theatrical window of at least 100 days, 20 percent of the film’s first dollar gross, and a three-week period before and after the film’s release in which Universal could not release another new film.
Pre-production began in January 2022 in New Mexico, with two days of casting in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, with people cast as locals, soldiers, and scientists. A second casting call was held in February. Filming began in late February 2022 with Hoyte van Hoytema as the operator. Filming took place in the second week of April at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
The film uses a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large format film. It is also the first film to be shot in black and white in IMAX. Gary Oldman said he had “one scene, a page and a half” on set in May. Filming also took place in California, mainly at the University of California at Berkeley campus. Filming ended after four months in May 2022. Filming used real explosives to recreate the Trinity nuclear test, avoiding the use of computer-generated graphics.
During post-production, Jennifer Lame, formerly of Tenet, is responsible for editing. Visual effects were handled by DNEG, their eighth collaboration with Nolan. Andrew Jackson was the visual effects supervisor.
In October 2021, Ludwig Göransson revealed that he would compose the film’s score, having previously done so for Tenet.
The movie, Oppenheimer, is produced at the cost of $100 million. Factoring in the film’s budget and marketing costs, Variety reported that the film would need to earn at least $400 million worldwide to break even.
Oppenheimer’s marketing campaign began on February 22, 2022, when the first glimpse of Murphy dressed as Oppenheimer was released. In the black and white photo, Murphy can be seen staring intently at a cigarette. Noting the physicist’s history with chain-smoking, Variety noted, “This is certainly true to the historical record.” On July 22, 2022 (exactly one year before the film’s theatrical release), a teaser poster was released. This was followed by a teaser trailer on July 28, 2022, with a live countdown to July 16, 2023, at 5:29 AM (MST), the 78th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion; it premiered at Nope screenings before being posted on Universal’s social media profiles. Empire commented, “It looks more like a silly, silly romp with a real sense of weight – in other words, a Christopher Nolan movie.” Two more trailers premiered in December 2022 before Avatar: The Way of Water screenings, one. . . of which there were only IMAX screenings. In May 2023, the official preview trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. was later released to the public on May 8, 2023, with a theatrical release poster.
The movie, Oppenheimer, is set to release on 21st July 2023 by Universal Pictures in IMAX 70 mm, standard 70 mm, 35 mm, and digital.
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