“Oppenheimer,” the biopic about the scientist at the center of the U.S. effort to develop the atomic bomb, will be released in Japan next year, after months of controversy and pushback in the country.
Many critics said the film, which was released in the United States and other countries in July, underplayed the devastating impact of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, which killed as many as 210,000 people by some estimates.
“Oppenheimer” was a hit in box offices worldwide, and in Asian markets, including South Korea and China. But a release date in Japan was never confirmed, sparking speculation that it may never be shown in the country.
Bitters End, the movie’s distributor in Japan, said in a statement that the movie’s subject “is of great importance and holds special meaning for Japanese people,” according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The company said it decided to release the movie in the country in 2024 after “various discussions and considerations,” though it did not provide an exact release date.
“Christopher Nolan’s impressive direction and traditional cinematic techniques made the film a unique viewing experience, and we believe everyone should share that experience on a big screen,” Bitters End said in the statement. Bitters End did not immediately respond to a request for further comment Thursday.
Nolan previously told Variety that he decided not to show the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the movie because “the film presents Oppenheimer’s experience subjectively” and that he wanted to “rigidly stick to that.” Nolan told the magazine that “Oppenheimer heard about the bombing at the same time that the rest of the world did” and that he “wanted to show somebody who is starting to gain a clearer picture of the unintended consequences of his actions.”
Critics, which included anti-nuclear groups, said “Oppenheimer” failed to give a voice to the Japanese people who suffered from the atomic bombings, as well as residents of New Mexico who lived near the bomb’s test site and who continue to suffer the health consequences of presumed radiation exposure decades later.
“Oppenheimer” was released on the same day as Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie”; many referred to the joint release of the contrasting movies as “Barbenheimer.” Amid the buzz around both films, Warner Bros., which produced “Barbie,” was called out by its Japanese office after it interacted with social media posts overlaying Barbie with nuclear imagery from “Oppenheimer.”
According to Nikkei Asia, one of the images that drew ire showed Cillian Murphy, who played J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Margot Robbie, who starred as Barbie, posing against the backdrop of what appeared to be a nuclear explosion. Warner Bros. Film Group issued an apology amid the backlash.