“Oppenheimer” is About To Make History in a Very Unique Way

The news broke this week that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie just surpassed Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as the highest-grossing film at the domestic box office in Warner Bros. history. You likely also know that Gerwig and Nolan have been sharing the spotlight this entire summer, thanks to the simultaneous July 21 release of Barbie and Nolan’s Oppenheimer, his three-hour epic about J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) that has wowed audiences across the globe. While Gerwig’s phenomenal Barbie has been breaking records left-and-right (it took a mere 17 days to reach the billion-dollar benchmark, the fastest of any Warner Bros. film ever, to name just one), Nolan’s Oppenheimer has had a remarkable run in its own right, and now, it’s poised to reach an unusual, yet somehow wonderful, milestone. Oppenheimer is about to become the highest-grossing U.S. movie never to hit the top spot at the box office.

Previously, this unusual achievement belonged to the animated 2016 hit Sing, which was a critical and commercial success that still never managed to be number one at the box office due to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Hidden Figures. Oppenheimer has pulled in more than $270 million in four weeks, with some folks driving across state lines to see it in 70mm IMAX. Sing ultimately ended up with $634.2 million worldwide, a figure that Oppenheimer will pass.

And what about becoming the highest-grossing film worldwide never to hit the top spot? To claim that title, Oppenheimer would have to make more than $902 million to surpass the Chinese hit The Battle at Lake Changjin. 

It should probably go without saying that these records are not the reason why Nolan makes his films, but what he does want, what he’s always strived for, is to create the kind of viewing experience that audiences can only get in the theater. What’s more, he’s been the most ardent user and supporter of the IMAX format, and his passion for filmmaking on the grandest possible scale has resonated with audiences all across the United States and the globe. The odd records like “highest-grossing domestic film to never hit the top spot” are surely not Nolan’s bag, but giving as many people as possible the best moviegoing experience he can, is Nolan’s bag.

Oppenheimer is in theaters now.

For more on Oppenheimer, check out these stories:

Christopher Nolan on Exploding Myths & Exposing Humanity in “Oppenheimer”

“Oppenheimer” Production Designer Ruth De Jong on Helping Christopher Nolan Build the Bomb

“Oppenheimer” IMAX Run Extended Due to Popular Demand

“Oppenheimer” Composer Ludwig Göransson Creates a New Kind of Atomic Scale

Featured image: Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan.


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