Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has been confirmed for a theatrical release in Japan. Although it did not specify an exact date, local distributor Bitters End said today that the biographical epic will be in Japanese cinemas in 2024. The decision was made “following months of thoughtful dialogue associated with the subject matter and acknowledging the particular sensitivity for us Japanese,” Bitters End said in a statement released early Thursday morning in Tokyo (read it in full below.)
Oppenheimer began global rollout in July this year, but there had been a question mark over it playing in Japan given sensitivities to the subject matter – the film centers on the complicated and brilliant physicist tasked with leading the Manhattan Project, the secret effort to create the atom bomb, and the moral and political struggles that followed.
The film does not explicitly depict the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That decision, Nolan told NBC, was made because the film is told subjectively from Oppenheimer’s point of view. “To depart from” his experience “would betray the terms of the storytelling… He learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the radio — the same as the rest of the world.”
This summer, the phrase #NoBarbenheimer trended in Japan as many Twitter users were disturbed by fan-produced online memes and imagery they felt trivialized nuclear weapons and the devastating fallout of the bombs.
From Universal, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh.
It has grossed over $950M worldwide. It is the No. 3 movie of 2023 and the No. 1 biopic of all time.
Bitters End has a history of working with awards contenders. Other Universal titles it has released in Japan include Darkest Hour and Licorice Pizza.
Here’s the full statement from Bitters End:
“We, Bitters End, will release Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ in Japan in 2024. The decision was made following months of thoughtful dialogue associated with the subject matter and acknowledging the particular sensitivity for us Japanese. After screening the film, we feel Christopher Nolan has created a singular cinematic experience that transcends traditional storytelling and must be seen on the big screen. We invite the audience to watch the film with their own eyes when it comes to Japan.”