The rumors are now official: Christopher Nolan’s next movie will be Oppenheimer, and Cillian Murphy will play the title role.

Like Dunkirk, it is a historical film set around World War II. In this case, Nolan’s focus is J. Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist who became crucial to the Manhattan Project that developed the world’s first atomic bomb. Universal Pictures, who is distributing the film, describe it as a “pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.”

Nolan wrote the script himself, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird. Murphy has appeared in numerous Nolan films; he was the Scarecrow in Batman Begins and its sequels, and then had key supporting roles in 2010’s Inception and 2017’s Dunkirk. As you can see, he does bear some physical resemblance with Oppenheimer. (He will probably need a haircut though.)

As has become Nolan’s preferred working method in recent years, he will shoot the film on IMAX 65mm film. After a long working relationship with Warner Bros., Nolan brought this project to Universal; he was publicly very unhappy with Warners’ decision to release all of their 2021 blockbusters simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. (He famously called HBO Max “the worst streaming service” upon hearing the announcement, despite the fact that it is the online home of many of his movies.)

Universal will release Oppenheimer on July 21, 2023. Nothing says “summer movie” quite like a biopic about a theoretical physicist!

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