The first full trailer for Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer, which is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, a scientist who is closely linked to the development and explosion of the first atomic bomb in the 1940s, has been made available by Universal.
The tone is vast and sombre as we watch a montage of the bomb's conception and preparation at the Manhattan Project site in New Mexico, all the while Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, watches on in horror at his invention.
He states in the voiceover, "They won't fear it until they understand it, and they won't understand it until they've used it." I'm not sure we can be trusted with such a weapon, she said.
Many of filmmaker Nolan's preoccupations, including science, explosions, wonder at the secrets of the universe, and anxiety about the price of development, is present and true. The majority of the film's tremendously talented supporting ensemble, which includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh, as well as a rumoured one-scene cameo by Gary Oldman, is noticeably absent from the teaser.
Nolan claims to have recreated an atomic test "without the use of computer graphics" for the film because he enjoys using practical effects and shooting on film (Oppenheimer is shot on 65 mm IMAX film by regular Nolan collaborator Hoyte van Hoytema, including a world-first sequence of analogue IMAX black-and-white photography). Yikes.
On July 21, 2023, the same day that Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie's Barbie opens in theatres, Oppenheimer will be released. Recently, Barbie was the subject of a similarly grandiose, albeit considerably less sombre, teaser trailer that parodies Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nolan's favourite film.
Even though the two movies have different themes, they are both among the most anticipated of the upcoming year (even more so after these trailers), both feature A-list actors and desirable directors, and both are said to have a $100 million budget. It's unusual to see two powerful studio animals square off against one another at the box office.
This rivalry is spiced up a little more: In a departure for Nolan, who had been with Warner Bros. for 20 years before abruptly parting ways with the company over its move toward streaming, Oppenheimer will be distributed by Universal Pictures. Who distributes Barbie? Warner Bros. is the reason.