Cillian Murphy has been cast to play J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming World War II epic for Universal Pictures. Dubbed “the father of the atomic bomb,” the American physicist is the subject of “Oppenheimer,” which is Nolan’s first big studio project after parting ways with Warner Bros. Murphy previously starred for Nolan in films including “Batman Begins,” “Inception,” and Best Picture nominee “Dunkirk.” The $100-million “Oppenheimer” has meanwhile been dated for a wide theatrical release in North American theaters on Friday, July 21, 2023. Like “Dunkirk” and “The Dark Knight,” “Oppenheimer” will be shot on IMAX cameras with a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film. Production is said to begin in early 2022.
The film is written by Nolan and produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven, and Nolan himself. “Oppenheimer” is adapted from the Pultizer Prize-winning book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. While Oppenheimer played a pivotal role in the making of atomic weapons, he later felt ambivalence about their power, ultimately lobbying for international control of nuclear power and opposing the making of the hydrogen bomb.
Nolan will reunite with past collaborators including director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema (“Tenet,” ”Dunkirk,” ”Interstellar”), editor Jennifer Lame (“Tenet”) and Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson (“Tenet”).
“Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas’ films have shattered the limits of what cinematic storytelling can achieve,” said Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Donna Langley in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working alongside them on this exceptional and extraordinary project and are grateful for their shared passion and commitment to the theatrical experience.”
Since 2002’s “Insomnia” and through 2020’s “Tenet,” Nolan made all of his movies for Warner Bros. Nolan’s biggest films at Warner Bros. were his Batman films, with “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” both grossing over $1 billion worldwide for the studio.
Warner Bros. delayed the release of “Tenet” three times over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic, eventually dropping it in whatever theaters were possible on September 3. In a late 2020 interview with ET Online, Nolan said he was in “disbelief” over Warners’ handling of new releases, adding, “There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy.”
Nolan had stronger words in a December 2020 statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter that slammed HBO Max as “the worst streaming service.”