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Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer (Image via Universal Pictures)

Did Oppenheimer release in Japan? Details explored after global premiere

Christopher Nolan's much anticipated film, Oppenheimer, hit the theatres worldwide on Friday, July 21, 2023, pulling fans to their nearest screens. As the film was released in the theatres, it rekindled the discussions surrounding J. Robert Oppenheimer and his experiments on human history.

While it has enthralled audiences all over the world, one country remains an exception to the Nolan blockbuster and, for obvious reasons, it is Japan. Oppenheimer does not have an official release date for Japan yet. However, the rumors of the upcoming film being banned in Japan have been debunked.


Oppenheimer earned a whopping $33 million in the first-day openings, which includes earnings from domestic previews held on Thursday, June 19, 2023.


Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer is not banned in Japan

The global premiere of Oppenheimer took place with Greta Gerwig's Barbie on Friday, July 21, 2023. The film was released in a total of 3,610 theaters, out of which 30 screens could play the IMAX 70mm print of the movie. However, Japan is one country that has been left out of the Barbenheimer hype owing to the depiction of the tragic history of 1945 in Nolan's next.


The atomic bombings had caused unparalleled devastation, loss of life, and generational mutation in the survivors that led to the public sentiments being charged, particularly during the war. Oppenheimer's actions were considered ruthless by many, including scientists at the Los Alamos Laboratory, as they made suffering endlessly in Japan. Thus, Universal Pictures refrained from releasing the movie in the country as the bombings took 200,000 Japanese lives in total.

Though the global release was set for this week's Friday (July 21), Universal Pictures is yet to set a date for its release in Japan. It is to be noted that most Hollywood releases take time to show up in the movie theatres as the Japanese film industry waits for a movie's success to book it for showtimes. The unique local marketing strategies and moviegoing crowd have delayed the release so far.

If Oppenheimer does well, Japan will make a quick booking for fewer cinemas. In case of a global hit, one can expect a larger number of theaters to offer showtimes. However, it is not unusual for a Hollywood film to release on a much later date than its global release date.


An anonymous spokesperson from Universal Pictures commented on the issue, as quoted by The Variety, saying:

"plans have not been finalised in all markets.”

It is to be noted that the other two films competing for the box office collection are Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which released on July 21, 2023, while Greta Gerwig's Barbie is set for an August 11, 2023 release.

More on the rumors of the ban in Japan

Prior to the release of Oppenheimer, it was speculated that the film may not be released in Japan as it touches on a sensitive topic for the nation. The harrowing aftermath faced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors continues to this day. Nevertheless, Japan's history of cinema shows traits of a broad-minded approach to world cinema.

Additionally, the Japanese censorship board has been watchful of overtly explicit imagery instead of political matters represented through films since 1950. In 2006, Japan went on to release Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers - two films based on the alternative perspectives of the Japanese and U.S. men, respectively.

Nolan's upcoming biopic has been released worldwide on July 21, 2023, with Cillian Murphy in the lead role.


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Edited by
Priya Majumdar
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