What Happened When “Oppenheimer” Opened in Japan?

Audiences had a variety of responses to the film

"Oppenheimer" poster
Passersby walk near a poster for 'Oppenheimer' in Roppongi, as the film debuts in Japan eight months post worldwide launch on March 30, 2024.
Marcin Nowak/Anadolu via Getty Images

The release of eventual Best Picture winner Oppenheimer in the United States last year led to much debate — including plenty of conversation about whether or not the film would have been more effective had it shown the effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For his part, director Christopher Nolan has explained why he felt that the film was more effective without such a sequence. Still, the debate hasn’t gone away — and now that Oppenheimer has opened in Japan, it’s taken on a new dimension.

As the Associated Press’s Yuri Kageyama reported, Nolan’s film has met with a variety of reactions since opening in Japanese theaters. One perspective critical of the film came from Takashi Hiraoka, the former mayor of Hiroshima. “The film was made in a way to validate the conclusion that the atomic bomb was used to save the lives of Americans,” he said at an event surrounding the film.

Justin McCurry from The Guardian also reported on the film’s release in Japan — and the wide variety of reactions to it, from viewers hoping for a clearer depiction of the effects of nuclear weapons to others satisfied with the film as it was. McCurry notes that Hiraoka did temper his criticism of the film, stating, “From Hiroshima’s standpoint, there wasn’t enough about the horror of nuclear weapons, but I would encourage people to go and see it.”

Christopher Nolan’s Already Laid the Groundwork for a Great Horror Film
The filmmaker expressed interest recently in the genre

As for what Nolan himself might take on for his next project, that still remains to be seen. He has expressed an openness to making an out-and-out horror movie, which could make for interesting viewing. Or perhaps he’ll shock us all and make Tenet 2 next. (For the record, I would see this on opening day.) The possibilities, as they say, are limitless.

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