Nolan Needs to Make a Statement with Oppenheimer, But Does He Have It in Him?

Christopher Nolan has been a staple of Hollywood since his 2000 thriller Memento, releasing several critically acclaimed blockbusters that toe the line of grounded, character-driven stories and science fiction.

Nolan’s newest film, Oppenheimer, will be hitting theaters in July 2023.

In a career that’s only had an upward trajectory, this may be Nolan’s most important film in two decades.

Leaving Warner Bros.

Oppenheimer is created by Universal, the first film Nolan has worked out without Warner Bros. since 2002’s Insomnia.

Under the leadership of Jason Kilar, Warner Bros. announced in 2021 that they’d be releasing every WB film on HBO Max for streaming at the same time as their theatrical release. Nolan, a true cinephile, took exception to this and eventually left the company. Universal, however, agreed to Nolan’s demands of a 90-day minimum exclusive cinematic release.

His previous film, Tenet, was his final with WB. Nolan’s always been known for his convoluted plots, but the confusing structure of Tenet led to lower ratings than he’s used to.

This will be Nolan’s first film under a new studio since he’s risen to fame and the first following a disappointment. If Oppenheimer were to fail, it would kick off this new phase of Nolan’s career with a negative light.

A New Genre

Nolan’s etched himself firmly in the realistic sci-fi genre, highlighted by the popular Dark Knight trilogy from 2005-2012. More than that, Nolan is known for his action-packed thrillers that play with the concepts of good and evil, the construct of time, and general bending of the mind.

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Oppenheimer will be a historical biography, a new challenge for the seasoned filmmaker. Based around one of the fathers of the atomic bomb, the themes of morality will still likely be present, but the elements of science fiction and action will likely be absent.

Nolan has truly established himself in the sci-fi genre, and now it’s important for him to prove that he can branch into any type of film.

What We Know About Oppenheimer

We know very little about his newest film, other than the true story of real-life scientist Robert Oppenheimer. He was a theoretical physicist who worked in the Manhattan Project during World War II, part of the group that developed the world’s first nuclear weapons. After the war, he became a voice against the new arms race towards nuclear bombs.

Like all of his movies, we also know that Nolan has an iconic cast set up. Cillian Murphy, a stable of Nolan films, plays the titular role. Also announced as cast are Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Kenneth Branagh, Matt Damon, Gary Oldman, Jack Quaid, Rami Malek, Matthew Modine, Casey Affleck, and Josh Peck – an absolute all-star of a cast.

Oppenheimer lived an incredible life with a huge effect on today’s world, so there’s a lot of story Nolan can use. It’s set for release on July 21, 2023.

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