Cillian Murphy will play J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist whose role running the the Los Alamos Laboratory and involvement in the Manhattan Project has led him to be dubbed the “father of the atomic bomb.” The “Peaky Blinders” star has been confirmed to take the title role in “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s upcoming historical epic. The pair are longtime collaborators (Nolan has a stock company of players like Tom Hardy, Michael Caine and Christian Bale who have popped up in multiple films). Nolan and Murphy previously worked together on “Batman Begins,” “Inception” and “Dunkirk.”
Universal Pictures will make the $100 million film after winning the rights in a feverish bidding war that also saw the likes of Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. The latter studio had released nearly every Nolan picture but their relationship grew strained after the filmmaker criticized Warner Bros.’ decision to release its entire 2021 slate simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max as a concession to COVID. His most recent Warner Bros. film “Tenet” was not part of the HBO Max deal.
“Oppenheimer,” like previous Nolan films such as “Dunkirk” and “The Dark Knight,” will be shot with IMAX cameras. Universal Pictures will distribute “Oppenheimer” theatrically worldwide and will release the film in North American theaters on July 21, 2023.
The film is written by Nolan and produced by Emma Thomas, Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Nolan. “Oppenheimer” is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Production will begin in early 2022. Although Oppenheimer played a key role in the creation of atomic weapons, he later came to have complicated feelings about their deadly power. He lobbied for international control of nuclear power and opposed the creation of the even more destructive hydrogen bomb.
Nolan will also reunite with previous collaborators such as 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. “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.”