Oppenheimer becomes highest-grossing WWII film of all time

J Robert Oppenheimer biopic sails past $550m mark at global box office

Peony Hirwani
Wednesday 09 August 2023 06:21 BST
Oppenheimer trailer

Oppenheimer has officially become the highest-grossing Second World War movie ever made.

The Christopher Nolan film has sailed past the $550m mark at the global box office, and has been met with rave reviews.

Released in cinemas last month, Oppenheimer is a three-hour-long biopic on the trials and tribulations of theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and the invention of the atomic bomb.

Much of the film concerns Oppenheimer’s work at the Los Alamos wartime laboratory and his subsequent political persecution at the hands of government official Lewis Strauss, played by Robert Downey Jr in the movie.

According to the most recent projections by Box Office Mojo, Oppenheimer surpassed the previous record-holder, Dunkirk, also made by Nolan, which raked in $527m at the global box office. The film starred Tom Hardy, Harry Styles and Murphy, and is set in the backdrop of the Dunkirk evacuation during the Battle of France.

Despite impressive numbers in the war film history, Oppenheimer is lagging behind in the “Barbenheimer” battle as Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has generated more than $1bn in the same amount of time both films were released.

In a four out of five-star review, The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey called Oppenheimer “Christopher Nolan’s best and most revealing work”.

“It’s a profoundly unnerving story told with a traditionalist’s eye towards craftsmanship and muscular, cinematic imagination. Here, Nolan treats one of the most contested legacies of the 20th century – that of J Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ – as a mathematical puzzle to be solved,” Loughrey wrote.

Tom Conti (left) as Albert Einstein and Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer in ‘Oppenheimer'

In an interview with The Independent, Nolan revealed that Oppenheimer is the “biggest film I’ve ever made”.

“The film I wanted to make couldn’t have been done smaller,” Nolan said of the $100m film.

“It’s not about money, it’s not about budget – the magnitude of the story is what attracted me to it.

“The fact that Oppenheimer and his fellow scientists couldn’t completely eliminate the possibility that they might set fire to the atmosphere and destroy the entire world, but still triggered the test – the idea of someone taking that risk on behalf of all of us and all our descendants. There’s nothing bigger than that.”

Oppenheimer was released in theatres on 21 July.

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