Why Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer May Not Open In Japan

There is doubt about Oppenheimer releasing in Japan, with no premiere date announced in the country.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

cillian murphy

The release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is just around the corner, but Variety is reporting that the film may not end up being released in Japan. Universal has yet to announce anything official about a Japan release, so it seems like things are up in the air at this point. Toho-Towa, the biggest distributor of Hollywood films in Japan, also has yet to screen the film.

Obviously, a big reason that a Japan release is uncertain for Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer is the thorny subject matter that is deeply entrenched in the country’s history. J. Robert Oppenheimer, portrayed by Cillian Murphy in the film, played a large role in the creation of the atomic bomb.

While he famously regretted his contributions, the bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands.

While the subject matter may not prevent Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer from being released in Japan, the studios also have to consider the level of interest that the country has in seeing a movie. As Variety points out, other Hollywood films set in a similar time period haven’t done incredibly well in Japan, with The Wolverine only pulling in $7.9 million and Flags of Our Fathers making $13.1 million.

The Japanese-language film Letters from Iwo Jima did considerably better with $42.9 million, but Oppenheimer is going to be a much different kind of film.

While A-bomb tests and explosions will likely be rendered in terrifying detail on IMAX screens, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer won’t necessarily be a war film so much as a drama and a biopic attached to the war.

It’s also worth noting that Nolan’s last two films, Tenet and Dunkirk, made some decent money in Japan, so that may play a factor in the decision as well.

Nolan’s name is certainly enough of a draw for many moviegoers, but it may not be enough to get the film a Japan release.

July is also packed with major blockbusters, and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will also be competing, both domestically and internationally, with the highly anticipated Greta Gerwig film Barbie.

oppenheimer christopher nolan

Barbie is set for the same weekend as Oppenheimer and already has a Japan release on August 11. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One will hit domestic theaters a couple of weeks earlier and also hit Japan on July 21.

Whether or not Christopher Nolan gets a Japan release for Oppenheimer, it still seems likely that the film will have a respectable box office gross overall. Along with the interesting subject matter, the film also has an incredible cast.

The aforementioned Cillian Murphy will be co-starring alongside Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Olivia Thirlby, Jack Quaid, Gary Oldman, Gustaf Skarsgard, Kenneth Branagh, David Dastmalchian, Alden Ehrenreich, Devon Bostick, David Krumholtz, Matthias Schweighofer, Dane DeHaan, and Rami Malek.

You can check out Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer on July 21. You can also jump on the ‘Barbieheimer’ double-feature trend and see Barbie on the same weekend. Stay tuned for more news on both films.