Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ to hit screens in Chinese mainland
High expectation pushes film to top spot in presales
Published: Aug 29, 2023 10:35 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The long-anticipated biographical thriller movie Oppenheimer written and directed by Hollywood luminary Christopher Nolan is set to hit big screens in the Chinese mainland on Wednesday. It has seen more than 20 million yuan ($2.74 million) in presales, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan.

As of Tuesday, the film has grossed $785 million worldwide after screening in more than 80 countries and regions, becoming the fourth-highest grossing movie of the year.

Adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Oppenheimer unveils the US physicist's pivotal role in the Manhattan Project, which crafted the first nuclear weapon employed against Japan during World War II's closing stages. The movie features a constellation of stars, with Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as Katherine Kitty Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as Gen. Leslie Groves and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss.

Global media has been wondering if Oppenheimer could pass $1 billion at the box office. With its debut in the Chinese mainland looming on the horizon, they are eager to find out the answer.

Meanwhile, the Chinese mainland's summer movie season has witnessed a triumph for domestic movies and China's film industry. According to Maoyan, China's daily box-office revenue had surpassed 100 million yuan for 68 consecutive days as of Sunday, which is being seen as an upbeat sign for the country's film industry and the wider consumer market. The top six highest-grossing films in the mainland this summer were all domestic productions. 

The Chinese film industry is also eagerly waiting, will the debut of Oppenheimer change the landscape of a cinema market dominated by domestic works? Will the film help China's total box office in 2023 reach 60 billion yuan?

Nolan attended the premiere of Oppenheimer held at Beijing's Universal Studios on August 22, the first prominent figure from the Hollywood film industry to visit Hollywood's largest overseas market, the Chinese mainland, after the pandemic. Many enthusiastic moviegoers participated in the event, while other fans, who didn't get to see the director in person, flocked to social media to voice their enthusiasm for Nolan's presence and their expectations for Oppenheimer

With Japan having begun the dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Thursday, there seems to be stronger anticipation for the movie as public attention and concern regarding nuclear issues grow. It has continued to secure the top spot on the "must-watch" list on Maoyan.

While Oppenheimer has not been officially banned by the Japanese government or any other authorities in Japan, it also has not confirmed the release date in the country as of now. 

In the global movie market this summer, besides the dominance of Oppenheimer, the US fantastical film Barbie also gained huge success. Internet memes and mashups of Barbie's pink wonderland with nuclear mushroom clouds have gone viral, and have been embraced by the official Twitter account for the Barbie movie.