How will “Oppenheimer” perform at the box office? In our long-range box office forecast, we are going to take a look at how it’ll take on the domestic and worldwide box office (see below).
Christopher Nolan returns with a new movie under a new studio so besides the incredible weekend it opens on, there are certainly some interesting pieces at play here. “Oppenheimer” follows the story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb.
Christopher Nolan’s last film “Tenet” opened up during the worst point of the pandemic with limited theatres and lots of safety precautions. During that time, it made $365.3M which is a great mark considering the circumstances that it debuted under. Warner Brothers wanted to delay the movie but faced enormous pressure from Christopher Nolan to release it despite the circumstances. Nevertheless, Christopher Nolan moved over to Universal for his next release “Oppenheimer” – a 180-minute R-Rated movie made for IMAX that features black and white sequences. All done on a clean $100M budget.
Let’s see how some of Christopher Nolan’s original films do at the box office:
- Tenet: $9.3M OW, $58.5 DOM, & $365.3 WW.
- Dunkirk: $50.5M OW, $189.7M DOM, & $527M WW.
- Interstellar: $47.5M OW, $188M DOM, & $773.4M WW.
- Inception: $62.8M OW, $292.5M DOM, & $825.8M WW.
You can discount the results of “Tenet” because of the ongoing circumstances at the time of its release but something similar to “Dunkirk” and “Interstellar” could be in store for Oppenheimer. At its heart, it’ll mostly be perceived as an American story which may not play too well to an international audience so public perception will be key to the long-term success of this box office run.
One thing we shouldn’t be ignoring is historical legs that Christopher Nolan films have at the box office, as follows:
- Memento (2000): 16.32x
- Insomnia (2002): 3.21x
- Batman Begins (2005): 4.21x (opened on Wednesday)
- The Prestige (2006): 3.59x
- The Dark Knight (2008): 3.38x
- Inception (2010): 4.66x
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012): 2.79x
- Interstellar (2014): 3.96x
- Dunkirk (2017): 3.76x
- Tenet (2020): 2.92x
When discussing the box office forecast during this intense weekend, a lot of nuances are required to get complete context and understanding. I’ll digest the advantages and disadvantages for Oppenheimer:
Box Office Advantages:
- When it comes to directors, Christopher Nolan is a household name and specifically in relation to the box office, he may just be the biggest draw out of them all. Excluding “Tenet” (for obvious reasons) every film since 2008 has surpassed the half-billion mark. That includes “The Dark Knight”, “Inception”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk”.
- PLF screens! We’ll see how this plays out as Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 & Barbie are desperately after some premium screens. As for IMAX specifically, Universal has already ironed out an agreement of three weeks of exclusivity in IMAX cinemas for “Oppenheimer”. The additional coinage for the film will be significant as it tries to compete with its competition.
- Pre-sales for the film are popping off – in two days it has surpassed the entirety of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s” three-week haul. People are booking all the way into the third weekend, suggesting that there is a high level of backloading for this film so it may have very strong staying power.
- Speaking of staying power, despite the crazy competition in its opening weekend – the following weekends are quite scarce which will allow the three box office juggernauts to enjoy healthy runs towards the end of summer.
Box Office Disadvantages:
- Let’s get the obvious out of the way – the 180-minute runtime will certainly bite, at least in its opening weekend. However, I don’t lean heavily into the narrative that a runtime hurts a film at the box office. If the runtime serves the film then it will result in a positive WOM and we know how far that can take a film – look at Top Gun: Maverick as an example. Also, the R-rating will present the same short-term limitation as runtime.
- Competition is also something to consider as it opens alongside the high-profile release of Barbie and 9 days after the opening of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1. With the latter, they share the same demographics which could involve both films cannibalizing each other.
- “Oppenheimer” is one of the quieter films that Nolan has directed which may affect rewatchability as the film may not be the spectacle that Interstellar or Inception were. While there will certainly be a spectacle moment, perhaps Nolan has something unique under his sleeve but if it paves out as a 3-hour character-driven and dialogue film then the legs are cut are a little shorter.
- “Inception”, “Interstellar”, “Dunkirk” and “Tenet” all earned over $50M+ in China and there is still no official Chinese release date just yet – despite publicly available marketing assets out for it.
Our Box Office Forecast for Oppenheimer:
Domestic Box Office:
Opening Weekend: $55 million
Total: $195 million
Worldwide Box Office:
Total: $515 million
Subscribe to the MovieGainz Email Newsletter and never miss out on our box updates including forecasting, predictions and analysis.