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SYFY WIRE Oppenheimer

What Is Oppenheimer Rated? Film Marks Christopher Nolan's First R Rating in 20 Years

Here's a hint: Fans of Insomnia and Memento should be happy.

By Adam Pockross
Oppenheimer Trailer

At the beginning of his career, legendary writer/director Christopher Nolan made nothing but R-rated movies. Then came Batman Begins, which began a 20-year streak of PG-13 films that weren’t exactly family fare, but never quite pushed the envelope enough to keep the youngsters out. With next month’s Oppenheimer dropping like an atomic bomb though, Nolan’s going back to his roots, as Variety reports today that the film has merited an R-rating.

RELATED: Oppenheimer: Christopher Nolan Reveals IMAX Secrets in New Featurette As Tickets Go on Sale

The last time a Nolan movie was rated R you have to go all the way back to 2002’s Insomnia starring Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and the late, great Robin Williams. His previous two films — 2000’s Memento starring Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss, and his first feature, 1998’s Following, starring Jeremy Theobald — also earned an R rating,


While Oppenheimer hasn’t been officially rated yet on the MPAA’s website, the official new spot below was released today by Universal Pictures, which clearly states at the end that the film is rated R, while a closer look reveals that’s for "some sexuality, nudity, and language." So even though the film depicts a nuclear explosion entirely with practical effects, that’s not why the kiddies aren’t welcome without an adult.


The film itself is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, and follows the genius scientist, played by Cillian Murphy, as he and his Manhattan Project team race against the Nazis in an effort to build the first atomic bomb and end the Second World War. While the scientific aspects of the film may not sound like enough to merit an R rating, there’s plenty more to it than that.

"I wouldn't just call this movie a biopic. This is a pulse-racing thriller — a big event movie. It's an overwhelming experience. I felt like my bones would shatter watching it." Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty, told Total Film.

Also worth noting is that Kitty isn’t Oppenheimer’s only love interest. Florence Pugh plays Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party of the United States who had an affair with the scientist.

The R-rating could be looked at as somewhat of a risky play for a summer blockbuster. Perhaps so too is the fact that at three hours long, Oppenheimer will be Nolan’s longest film of his career. Throw in that some of the film is shot in black and white, and you don’t exactly have the traditional recipe for a summer movie. But then again, we are talking about Christopher Nolan here, the auteur behind some of the biggest movies ever made, including The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, and Inception, so we’re pretty sure he knows what he’s doing.

As you’d expect with one of the world’s premiere storytellers, Nolan’s film features A-listers aplenty, including Robert Downey, Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Josh Peck, Dacone DeHaan, Benny Safdie, Alden Ehrenreich, Dylan Arnold, Michael Angarano, David Krumholtz, Josh Hartnett, Matthew Modine, and Kenneth Branagh.

Oppenheimer drops with a bang July 21, so see it on the biggest screen possible. Click here to pick up tickets!