‘Oppenheimer’ finally set for release in Japan after nuclear backlash

TOKYO — “Oppenheimer,” the blockbuster film about U.S. efforts to develop the world’s first nuclear weapons, is finally coming to theaters in Japan, where it faced fierce public backlash over what critics said was insensitivity toward the only country to have suffered atomic bombings.

Bitters End, the film’s Japanese distributor, said Thursday that “Oppenheimer” would be released in 2024, without specifying a date.

“Because the subject matter of this film is of great importance and has special significance to us Japanese, we decided to release the film in Japan after much discussion and consideration,” it said.

“After viewing the film, we believe that the one-of-a-kind cinematic experience by director Christopher Nolan, which transcends traditional theatrical techniques, deserves to be seen on the big screen.” 

The film, which tells the story of American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, has earned more than $950 million worldwide since its release in July, according to Box Office Mojo.

Some questioned why the film did not depict Japanese victims of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the last days of World War II, or their devastating aftermath. The bombings, which killed an estimated 200,000 people, are widely considered to have hastened Japan’s surrender and the end of the war.

Nolan told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the film was “not a documentary” and that it was meant to focus on Oppenheimer’s perspective.

Critics also objected to efforts to promote the film in tandem with “Barbie,” a lighter comedy about the iconic Mattel doll that in most countries was released on the same day. In an online campaign known as “Barbenheimer,” the pink and feminine themes of “Barbie” were contrasted with the dark and serious ones of “Oppenheimer.”

Angered by the memes, social media users in Japan called for a boycott of both films, using the hashtag #NoBarbenheimer.

They were particularly incensed when the memes were seemingly endorsed by the official studio account for “Barbie,” which responded to one mashup poster by saying, “It’s going to be a summer to remember,” in a post on the social media platform now known as X that was later deleted.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, and the two cities commemorate the dates each year with memorial ceremonies and calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Warner Bros., the studio behind “Barbie,” later apologized for “insensitive social media engagement.” The film was released in Japan on Aug. 11 but struggled to gain traction.

Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo, and Alice Kong from Hong Kong.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button