Christopher Nolan Recalls Sneaking Into A Movie Theater On Oppenheimer’s Opening Night And Watching Fans’ Reactions

Christopher Nolan recently found his biggest hit since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises in the atomic bomb drama Oppenheimer. It has soared into becoming one of the biggest 2023 new movie releases following its record-setting opening weekend alongside Greta Gerwig’s Barbie over the summer. As the movie concludes its one-week limited 70mm IMAX encore engagement, Nolan shared his own experience at the movie theaters with Oppenheimer.

On opening night of Oppenheimer back in July, Christopher Nolan, his wife/producing partner Emma Thomas and three of their four kids snuck into a showing of the biopic at AMC Lincoln Square in Manhattan, New York. Here’s how Nolan remembers it: 

It was a remarkable experience to be there. Every seat was filled, and the focus on what was happening on-screen was so strong. That level of engagement was something that I’d never really felt before. Real attention was being paid.

Nolan told Variety being secretly amongst an audience opening night was a “remarkable” moment in his career, especially thanks to how they received the movie. He could sense a level of “engagement” that he had hoped the movie would inspire within the walls of movie theaters across the globe. He particularly cited the scene when Robert Oppenheimer and his team prepared to detonate the first nuclear weapon as a highlight that had audiences glued to the screen. 

Oppenheimer Interview

Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema / Oppenheimer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘Oppenheimer’ Interview | Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema Talks Working With Christopher Nolan

Emma Thomas also commented that she’s not one to want to see a movie she has made on opening night, but “something magic” happened when they stepped into the showing of Oppenheimer. The movie would go on to shock the industry with an $80 million domestic opening weekend, second to Barbie’s $155 million the same weekend. Oppenheimer’s numbers earned it the No. 3 best domestic debut of 2023 and the movie has since become the third highest grossing movie of the year worldwide as well, behind Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Along with that, Oppenheimer seriously impressed critics, including through CinemaBlend’s own five-star Oppenheimer review, where Mike Reyes called the movie “an engaging epic.” As we soon head into awards season, the movie is also expected to be nominated for a host of the Academy Awards, with Oscars prediction site Gold Derby heavily favoring the film in categories like Cillian Murphy for Best Actor, Emily Blunt for Best Supporting Actress and Robert Downey Jr. as Best Supporting Actor, along with Nolan for Best Director and Best Picture. 

There’s certainly a gamble involved when it comes to being a fly on the wall to one’s own work being shown to a crowd of people, like what Christopher Nolan and his family decided to do, especially considering it runs at three hours. However, that clearly wasn’t a let down for Oppenheimer


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