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Oppenheimer: Release Date, Cast And Other Things We Know About The Christopher Nolan Movie

Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

There are few 20th-century scientists whose names are as recognizable or carry as much weight as J. Robert Oppenheimer (also known as the “father of the atomic bomb”), the theoretical physicist at the center of the Manhattan Project. The historical figure from World War II will soon get the biographical drama treatment with none other than Christopher Nolan in the director's chair. 

If this is the first you’re hearing about Oppenheimer, which has a cast featuring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Matt Damon, worry not, because we have an extensive list of things we already know about this Christopher Nolan movie, his 12th directorial effort, and second film set in the Second World War.

Fionn Whitehead in Dunkirk

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer Will Be Released Theatrically On July 21, 2023

Going back to the 2008 release of The Dark Knight, all but two Christopher Nolan movies (Interstellar and Tenet being the exceptions) have been released in the month of July. And, now it looks like that tradition will continue a little longer when Oppenheimer begins its theatrical run on July 21, 2023, as has been announced by Universal Pictures.

Cillian Murphy in The Dark Knight Rises; Emily Blunt in Wild Mountain Thyme; Robert Downey Jr. in Zodiac; Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari

(Image credit: Warner Bros.; Lionsgate; Paramount Pictures; 20th Century Fox)

The Oppenheimer Cast Includes Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., And Matt Damon

To lead his next project, Christopher Nolan has turned to Cillian Murphy, who is set to portray J. Robert Oppenheimer in his sixth collaboration with the filmmaker since being cast as Dr. Jonathan Crane in 2005’s Batman Begins. Only Michael Caine has worked with Nolan more over the years, though Murphy could eclipse the eight appearances by the acting legend, who announced his retirement in 2021. Murphy will be joined by his A Quiet Place Part II co-star Emily Blunt, who has been selected to take on an unspecified role

On top of those two, it has been reported that Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon are attached to star in undisclosed roles. This will mark the first time Blunt and Downey Jr. have worked with Nolan; Damon previously appeared in a minor, yet pivotal, role in Interstellar.

A plane flying in Dunkirk

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer Will Follow The Man At The Center Of The Manhattan Project And The Creation Of The Atom Bomb

In September 2021, word began to circulate that Christopher Nolan’s next project would be centered on J. Robert Oppenheimer, though details were being kept under wraps at the time. A lot has changed since then, and Variety has confirmed that Oppenheimer will center on the man who headed up the Manhattan Project, the iconic group of scientists and military leaders who developed the first atom bomb, a technology that was used to the destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all but ended World War II in August 1945. 

Though the specific details concerning the movie’s story have yet to be revealed, the epic drama is based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Al Pacino in Insomnia

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Universal Is Releasing Oppenheimer, The First Christopher Nolan Movie Not Distributed By Warner Bros. In More Than 20 Years

Starting with the 2002 release of Insomnia, every Christopher Nolan movie has been distributed by Warner Bros. That relationship, however, began to sour following the 2020 release of Tenet and studio’s decision to make all of its 2021 movies available on HBO Max the same day as in theaters, with Nolan later saying he would be “unlikely” to work with Warner Bros. in the future. 

While it remains to be seen if the breakup will stick as the years go by, Nolan has already moved, and will take his talents to Universal Pictures. In September 2021, TheWrap reported that Oppenheimer (which was still untitled at the time) would be the first Nolan film in more than 20 years to not be released by Warner Bros.

Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in Tenet

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer Has A Production Budget Of $100 Million, With The Same Being Spent On Marketing

When Oppenheimer comes out in July 2023, it will have a budget of $100 million, which is the smallest out of of any of Christopher Nolan’s movies since The Prestige, which cost Warner Bros. approximately $40 million to produce (not counting marketing), per BoxOfficeMojo

According to The Hollywood Reporter, when Nolan was meeting with various studio heads in 2021 to see where he would take his next project, Universal Pictures agreed to the $100 million production budget as well as an equal marketing spend, which will bring the entire project up to around $200 million by the time everything is said and done. But, that’s not all Universal gave Nolan…

As part of that same deal, Universal agreed to give the filmmaker 20 percent of the first-dollar gross (meaning he’ll start making money as soon as the first tickets are sold), a guaranteed 100-day theatrical run, and a blackout period in which the studio cannot release another movie three weeks before or after Oppenheimer begins its theatrical run.

John David Washington

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Some Of Christopher Nolan’s Go-To Collaborators Are Working On Oppenheimer

In addition to working with Cillian Murphy on Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan will also be calling in some of his other go-to collaborators for work behind the camera and behind the scenes. In October 2021, Deadline announced that Nolan’s wife and co-producer Emma Thomas would be working on the film, as would Charles Roven, who produced the Dark Knight trilogy. 

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who served as the director of photography of Nolan’s previous three films, will be sitting behind the camera once again for the director’s upcoming project. Editor Jennifer Lame and composer Ludwig Göransson, who previously worked with Nolan on Tenet, will both be back for their second production with the filmmaker.

A lone soldier standing in Dunkirk

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer Will Be Shot On IMAX 65MM And 65MM Large-Format Film

It should come as no surprise, but Christopher Nolan plans to shoot Oppenheimer on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film, a common practice by the exacting director going back to The Prestige in 2006. Nothing has really been revealed about the story, but with the large-format film, Nolan’s track record, and the focus on J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, there’s a good chance we’ll see some beautiful shots of the program’s various tests in the early 1940s.

Soldiers waiting on the beach in Dunkirk

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Production On Oppenheimer Is Set To Get Underway In Early 2022

When Deadline announced the progress being made in the development of Oppenheimer it was revealed that production is set to get underway at some point in early 2022, though exact filming locations have yet to be revealed. Expect to hear more about filming once we have a better grasp on the scope of the film’s narrative.

There is still a lot about Oppenheimer that has yet to be revealed, so make sure to check back in the future for all the latest on this exciting project. In the meantime, take a look at our ranking of the best Christopher Nolan movies.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.