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Oppenheimer releasing in Japan in 2024 (Image via Universal Pictures and IMDb)

Oppenheimer confirmed to have a theatrical release in Japan in 2024

Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster, Oppenheimer, is set to release in theatres in Japan in 2024. After much consideration of its impact on the local viewers, Bitters End is slated to handle the domestic distribution in theatres across Japan. The movie's release in the island country was put on hold while Oppenheimer ruled in theatres across the globe.

The biographical thriller was both written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Cillian Murphy in the titular character of J Robert Oppenheimer. He was an American physicist nicknamed “father of the atomic bomb” for being part of the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapons.

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Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Oppenheimer movie.


Oppenheimer will be available for viewers in Japan

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Per the editorial team of Bitters End, the distributor for the movie in Japan, since the movie's subject matter is of special meaning to the Japanese audience, it was released after discussions and deliberations. However, a specific date has yet to be given by the distributors.

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Takuya Kuramoto of Bitters End believes that Oppenheimer deserves to be seen on a big screen due to the cinematic experience created by director Christopher Nolan, which surpasses traditional theatrical techniques. He hopes that the audience of Japan will appreciate the movie experience.


Why was the release of Oppenheimer stalled in Japan?

A scene from the movie (Image via Melinda Sue Gordon@Universal Pictures)
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As mentioned by the Japanese distributing company, the context of the movie might have been an uncomfortable subject for moviegoers in Japan. While most Hollywood films are released in Japan much after their release in the U.S., this movie may have dealt with heightened sensitivity.

As such, Japan is the only country that has experienced a nuclear attack, and in the same connection to World War II, as is the backdrop of the movie. Besides, there was some discomfort about how the “father of the atomic bomb” may have been received by the country that was the victim of the experiment.

Moreover, the biographical movie shared screen space with Barbie, the Warner Bros. release, on the same day. This led to the global “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, where viewers watched both movies on the same day. While social media juxtaposed the two movies pitched against each other, the trend did not catch up in Japan.

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A scene from the movie (Image via Melinda Sue Gordon@Universal Pictures)

Japanese social media users were sharing “#NoBarbenheimer” at the time. To top it, the U.S. account for Barbie used the tagline, “It’s going to be a summer to remember,” to excite their fans. However, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing anniversaries fall on August 6 and August 9, making summers a solemn season in the island nation. The country, which calls for nuclear non-proliferation, marks the days with somber ceremonies.

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M.G. Sheftall, author of the forthcoming book Hiroshima: The Last Witnesses, said Barbenheimer’s

“…frivolous silliness involving content directly related to the darkest chapter of Japanese suffering, which made the Americans come off as glib and insensitive.”

Despite expecting criticism about the insensitivity of the movie not sparing any footage on the sufferings of the bombed cities, the movie is hitting theatres in Japan in 2024 based on its artistic merits.


What are the contents of Oppenheimer?

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The plot of the movie follows the making of doctoral student J Robert Oppenheimer into the father of the atomic bomb. The physicist's journey of Jewish belief charts his Cambridge days to settling down as a teacher in California and further being appointed by the US Army to help develop the atomic bomb under the Manhattan Project.

The real father of the atomic bomb (Image via X@PhysInHistory)
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The movie shows the personal dilemmas of the scientist as he consults Albert Einstein but promotes the Trinity test even after Hitler’s death and the war almost coming to an end. His career also went through turmoil because of the catastrophic events of the bombings, as his clearance was revoked in 1954.

However, scientist Hill’s testimony and the Senate’s votes against scientist Strauss changed the pattern of events. In 1963, President Lyndon B Johnson presented the renowned scientist with the Enrico Fermi Award.


Oppenheimer is one of the highest-grossing movies of 2023 and also of the genre.

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Edited by
Ivanna Lalsangzuali
 
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