Indie distributor Bitters End will release Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed epic thriller, Oppenheimer, in theaters in Japan next year, Variety is reporting. The decision comes after the film was initially deemed controversial in the country.
The biopic chronicles the titular American theoretical physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, as he led the development the two atomic bombs that were detonated in 1945. Japan was the only country that was attacked by nuclear bombs during World War II. As a result of the detonation, more than 200,000 Japanese citizens were killed.
Therefore, Japan refused to release the movie upon its initial distribution in most territories in July by Universal. Oppenheimer still went on to gross $950 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing biographical film of all time.
It’s not uncommon for Hollywood movies to be released in Japan well after their U.S. premieres. However, sensitivities surrounding Oppenheimer are likely to have been a factor in the delay of its distribution in Japan.
The drama has been criticized for not portraying the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nolan has insisted that he was being faithful to the historical facts, as J. Robert Oppenheimer learned about the bombings on the radio, and not through the U.
Many Japanese audiences were also outraged over the thriller’s marketing campaign, which paired it with the summer’s other big blockbuster, Barbie. Warner Bros., which distributed the latter film in theaters the same day as the biopic on July 21, issued a public apology for the campaign.
Despite Warner Bros.’ apology, Toho-Towa, which distributes most universal titles in Japan, chose not to proceed with the thriller’s release in the country. As a result,, rights broker Dentsu was involved in finding an alternative distributor in Japan.
It ultimately choose the Tokyo-based Bitters End to release the drama in theaters across the country.
“Bitters End, will release Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in Japan in 2024. The decision was made following months of thoughtful dialogue associated with the subject matter and acknowledging the particular sensitivity for us Japanese,” the indie firm distributor said in a statement.
“After screening the film, we feel Christopher Nolan has created a singular cinematic experience that transcends traditional storytelling and must be seen on the big screen. We invite the audience to watch the film with their own eyes when it comes to Japan,” the company added.
On social media, Bitters End said: “This is a spectacular true story drama that depicts the unknown life of a man who holds the fate of the world in his hands while at the same time facing a crisis that could destroy it […] It has been hailed as Nolan’s best work ever and is considered a top candidate for various film awards.”
Bitters’ End hasn’t announced a Japanese theatrical release date for Oppenheimer yet, even though the feature’s already available to purchase for in-home viewing in many countries. But it seems likely that the movie will be released in Japanese theaters in time for the Hollywood award season over the next few months, which culminates with the Academy Awards on March 10.
Bitters End previously handled Korean Oscar winner Parasite. The distributor will also release Japan’s current Academy Awards contender, Perfect Days, on Dec. 22.
Oppenheimer was written, directed and produced by Nolan. It stars Cillian Murphy in the eponymous role, as well as Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh.