Release date, cast and plot

Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  This is an 11K scan of a 70mm B&W IMAX film frame.

Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer. (Universal)

The summer of 2023 marks the release of Christopher Nolan’s new film Oppenheimer, his first film since Tenet in 2020, and Warner Bros.

Billed as an epic thriller about “the man who changed the world,” this $100 million drama is decidedly more adult-oriented than most of what was presented in this summer’s blockbuster season. Shot with IMAX cameras in both color and black and white, the film lists the main character’s contributions to the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb.

While Nolan’s films often have a veil of secrecy around the plot, Oppenheimer is his first biography, so we know quite a bit of what the film is about.

Read more: Christian Bale to play Batman again for Christopher Nolan

With this very slight spoiler alert in mind, here’s everything we know about Oppenheimer so far…

Oppenheimer release date

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Universal)

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is seen here on set with Cillian Murphy. (Universal)

Oppenheimer will hit theaters worldwide on July 21, 2023. Universal Pictures is financing and distributing the film after Nolan disagreed with Warner Bros.

Amusingly, Nolan’s ex-assholes at Warner are programming against Greta Gerwig’s Barbie on the same day.

In terms of casting, it seems like everyone is either in one movie or the other…

Oppenheimer cast

Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  (Universal Pictures)

Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. (Universal Pictures)

Cillian Murphy plays the lead character, theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. This marks his sixth film collaboration with Nolan after The Dark Knight trilogy, The Beginning, and Dunkirk, but it’s his first time starring in the lead role.

Read more: Cillian Murphy says her kids have cool British accents

Additionally, Nolan’s Interstellar surprise guest star, Matt Damon, plays a key role as Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, the engineering officer who runs the Manhattan Project.

Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Dr.  Robert Oppenheimer, Dr.  He listens intently to a discussion in which Albert Einstein discussed matter in terms of space.  (Photo by Getty Images © CORBIS/Corbis)

Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, right, director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Dr. with Albert Einstein. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Other returning Nolan collaborators include Sir Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Matthew Modine, David Dastmalchian and Casey Affleck. Gary Oldman, another Dark Knight alumnus, has a cameo role as US President Harry S. Truman.

Working with Nolan for the first time, Emily Blunt includes activist and scientist Kitty Oppenheimer; Robert Downey Jr plays Lewis Strauss, Oppenheimer’s rival in the hydrogen bomb development debate; and Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Oppenheimer’s ex-girlfriend and member of the American Communist Party.

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Universal)

Robert Downey Jr. in Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. (Universal)

Rounding out the star-studded cast (among others!) are Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Olivia Thirlby, Michael Angarano and Josh Hartnett.

That’s not all; also includes Jason Clarke, Alex Wolff, Tony Goldwyn, Jack Quaid, Emma Dumont and Dane DeHaan.

We could list more names all day, but suffice to say this is an epic ensemble.

The true story behind Oppenheimer

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Universal)

Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt in Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. (Universal)

According to Universal’s official synopsis, Oppenheimer is “an epic thriller that plunges viewers into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world to save it.”

Nolan reportedly takes his lead from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, published in 2005. The biography spans from Oppenheimer’s early career to his beginnings. Life after the Cold War and the Second World War.

Read more: Everything we know about Barbie

Often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb,” Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist involved in the war effort when he was appointed to the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), whose role was to explore the weapons potential of uranium.

Three of the men who played a leading role in the development of the atomic bomb visit the American Chemical Society Atomic Exhibition at the Grand Central Palace.  From left to right, Brig when looking at a photo of the atomic explosion over Nagasaki, Japan.  General KD Nichols, the author of the government's atomic report, Prof.  HD Smythe and JR Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos, NM atomic lab.

Brig. General KD Nichols, the author of the government’s atomic report, Prof. HD Smythe and JR Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos, NM atomic lab. (Getty)

When command of the OSRD was transferred to the military in 1942, Groves selected Oppenheimer to head the top-secret Manhattan Project in a specially built laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

The joint efforts of Oppenheimer and scientists at Los Alamos eventually resulted in the Trinity nuclear test, the world’s first nuclear explosion, in July 1945. We’re just glad that most of us aren’t shooting near us.

OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Universal)

Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Universal)

The film is also expected to cover some of Oppenheimer’s life after the war, including subsequent charges of disloyalty to the United States and a major security hearing before the Un-American Activities Committee in 1954.

Parts of the movie were shot in black and white on IMAX cameras, and judging by the trailer, it could be post-war parts of the story. On the other hand, Nolan seems to be against linear storytelling as well as CGI, so maybe this can distinguish a Dunkirk-like build that we see later scenes unfolding between pieces of the build.

At any rate, all the hype seems to suggest that Oppenheimer will come with a bang, not a whine…

Is there a trailer for Oppenheimer?

Universal released the official teaser for Oppenheimer on July 28, 2022 – almost exactly a year before its release – via a dynamic, live-streamed teaser that counts the hours, days, and months leading up to the anniversary of the Trinity test with each view.

The first full trailer was released in December 2022 after appearing in front of Avatar: The Way of Water, another movie with strong ties to the IMAX format. Watch below.

Oppenheimer hits theaters and IMAX on July 21, 2023.

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