moviesAndrew McMillan

Oppenheimer Shines at the Box Office with $10.5M in Thursday Previews

Oppenheimer, the latest epic biographical thriller by acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, has made a strong debut at the domestic box office, grossing $10.5 million in Thursday night previews, according to Variety. The film, which stars Cillian Murphy as the titular American physicist who led the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, is expected to earn between $50 million and $60 million in its opening weekend, surpassing industry projections and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the summer.

The film, which was written by Nolan based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, who praised its complex and compelling portrayal of Oppenheimer's life and legacy, as well as its stunning visuals, performances, and score. The film currently holds a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 150 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "A masterful blend of history, drama, and spectacle, Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan at his most ambitious and accomplished, with Cillian Murphy delivering a career-best performance as the conflicted genius behind the bomb."

Oppenheimer is also generating Oscar buzz for its technical achievements and artistic merits, with many predicting that it will be a frontrunner for several categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (for Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves), Best Supporting Actress (for Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score (by Ludwig Göransson).

The film marks Nolan's first collaboration with Universal Pictures, after he parted ways with Warner Bros. over their decision to release his previous film Tenet simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Nolan had expressed his dissatisfaction with Warner Bros.' strategy, which he felt undermined the theatrical experience and hurt the film's box office performance. Tenet grossed $363 million worldwide against a budget of $200 million, making it one of Nolan's lowest-grossing films.

Oppenheimer is also Nolan's first film to be shot entirely on film since The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as he opted to use a combination of IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film cameras —including, for the first time, sections in IMAX black-and-white analog photography. Nolan is known for his preference for practical effects and minimal computer-generated imagery , which he believes create a more immersive and realistic cinematic experience for the viewers.

Oppenheimer tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant and charismatic theoretical physicist who was pivotal in developing the first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project, a secret military research program that involved thousands of scientists and engineers across several locations in the United States. The film explores Oppenheimer's personal and professional challenges, his relationships with his wife Kitty and his military handler General Groves, his moral dilemmas and ethical conflicts over the use and consequences of his invention, and his eventual downfall and ostracism during the McCarthy era.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, a senior member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission who opposed Oppenheimer's security clearance; Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Oppenheimer's former lover and a communist sympathizer; Josh Hartnett as David Bohm, one of Oppenheimer's protégés who was blacklisted for his political views; Casey Affleck as Edward Teller, a Hungarian-American physicist who advocated for the development of the hydrogen bomb; Rami Malek as Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project; and Kenneth Branagh as Niels Bohr , a Danish physicist who mentored Oppenheimer and influenced his scientific thinking.

Oppenheimer is rated R for some sexuality, nudity and language. It has a running time of 180 minutes. It is now playing in theaters across North America.