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Why Christopher Nolan’s $100 Million WWII Drama ‘Oppenheimer’ Could Be the Last of Its Kind

Christopher Nolan’s next movie “Oppenheimer,” a $100 million-budgeted historical drama about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb, could be considered one of an endangered species.

These days, it’s rare for traditional studios to pump nine figures into a film that isn’t inspired by popular toys, novels or comic books. Even before COVID-19 upended the moviegoing landscape, audiences had been gravitating toward superheroes and science-fiction spectacles — and not much else. That reality has made it increasingly difficult for Hollywood to justify the economics of greenlighting expensive movies that aren’t based on existing intellectual property. They’re a bigger risk, not only in recouping investments for studios, but also in generating profits, spawning sequels and leveraging consumer product riches. No matter how well people receive Nolan’s film, it’s unlikely J. Robert Oppenheimer’s face will adorn t-shirts or lunch boxes.

By backing “Oppenheimer,” Universal Pictures is making a bold bet that the right director can still get audiences excited to visit cinemas for original content. The film, which isn’t due in theaters until 2023, will need to defy the odds to become commercially successful. On top of its $100 million production budget, the studio will need to spend $100 million more to properly promote the film to global audiences. Because Nolan’s contract guarantees he receives first-dollar gross — an increasingly uncommon perk that grants the filmmaker a percentage of ticket sales — it will take $50 million to $60 million more to achieve profitability than it would take another film of similar scope. Consequently, insiders at rival studios estimate “Oppenheimer” will need to generate at least $400 million at the global box office in order to turn a profit.
 
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VN1X

Member
So hyped for this.

Due to the Corona mandates and what not I've not been able to go to the cinema for ages now but honestly I don't even miss it if I see what kind of slop is shown there these days. Always interested in Nolan's work though. For better or worse at least he brings some originality, creativity and vision to the table.
 

DeafTourette

Older than air but younger than the foundations of the earth
There will always be a market for movies like this ... May not always pull in billion dollar box office amounts but they'll make back their budget and then some. This is beyond cynicism.
 

jufonuk

not tag worthy
I'd argue to keep the budgets reasonable. yeah, they usually are but maybe for a first-time director they won't stump up 100 Million but Nolan is in some special Niche he created.

so I doubt if it will truly be the last on its kind.
 
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IDKFA

Member
These days, it’s rare for traditional studios to pump nine figures into a film that isn’t inspired by popular toys, novels or comic books.

As a film buff, that actually makes me a little sad.

Maybe this could be why Ridley Scott sold the rights to Kitbag to Apple? Maybe the major Hollywood studios didn't have faith in a film about Napoleon. Wouldn't be surprised if the Gladiator sequel also ends up with Apple, Amazon or Netflix.
 
Dunkirk did well enough in similar circumstances. Success for this film shouldn't be that unexpected, maybe trying to squeeze a bit more interest with creating an existential threat to the genre.
 
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dr_octagon

Gold Member
I am become default, bankrupter of studios. Let's hope the film doesn't bomb.
Boom Bomb GIF by GIPHY Studios Originals
 
To be honest, I never liked war movies (especially if they are about WWII), so I would be more than happy if this one was the last one.

Based on what we know it's not a war movie but a movie set while the war is on about the creation of the bomb.

Think something like The Immitation Game if you have seen that.
 
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jason10mm

Member
Why does a flick about making a bomb have to cost so much? This is stuff the history Channel used to do!

I'd wager you could buy a REAL nuke from Russia and set it off in Uzbekistan or wherever to proxy Nevada for just a few mill :p
 

SJRB

Gold Member
Why does a biopic about fucking Oppenheimer have to cost 100 million dollars, exactly?


Next up: "Universal Pictures and Christopher Nolan befuddled why extremely niche subject movie doesn't sell out theatres worldwide"
 

Nobody_Important

“Aww, it’s so...average,” she said to him in a cold brick of passion
Why does a biopic about fucking Oppenheimer have to cost 100 million dollars, exactly?


Next up: "Universal Pictures and Christopher Nolan befuddled why extremely niche subject movie doesn't sell out theatres worldwide"
Got to spend money to make money.


There's a reason why all of the billion dollar movies of the last 20 years are big budget films and not $5 million indie films.
 

Alandring

Member
Think something like The Immigration Game if you have seen that.
I think you mean The Imitation Game. I have seen it, but not enjoyed it.

The thing I hate the most in movies is when they are too manichean. I must be able to understand the motivations of every character to enjoy the movie.

And in the huge majority of war movies (especially about WWII), the heroes are absolutely perfect and their enemies absolutely evil. I completely understand why (who could want to like the nazis?), but for this reason I would prefer if there wasn't any new war movie.
 
I think you mean The Imitation Game. I have seen it, but not enjoyed it.

The thing I hate the most in movies is when they are too manichean. I must be able to understand the motivations of every character to enjoy the movie.

And in the huge majority of war movies (especially about WWII), the heroes are absolutely perfect and their enemies absolutely evil. I completely understand why (who could want to like the nazis?), but for this reason I would prefer if there wasn't any new war movie.

Yeah I meant immitation game.

Guess War set movies are just not for you.

I'm not the biggest war movie fan but do love the ones that are brilliantly made.

So a low quality war movie to me is terrible but the best ones are absolutely brilliant.

I wonder would you like a war movie set from the German point of view. Like Das Boot or Generation War? Have you seen them?
 
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Alandring

Member
I wonder would you like a war movie set from the German point of view. Like Das Boot or Generation War? Have you seen them?
No, I haven't, but I have seen (and liked) letters from Iwo Jima ans Flags of Our Fathers, so maybe, as long as these movies don't tell how a few Germans heroically saves hundred of Jews from the Nazis.

I don't really care about the point of view, as long as their isn't a good and a bad side. That's why I really like both Clint Eastwood's movies.
 
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