Social media has been having a field day with “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” ever since it was revealed that Universal and Warner Bros. would be opening the two tentpoles on the same day: July 21. Adding drama to the rivalry is the fact that Nolan left Warner Bros. after a two-decade partnership and made “Oppenheimer” at Universal, only for Warner Bros. to then set its Greta Gerwig-directed fantasy-comedy for release on the same day as Nolan’s atomic bomb drama.
“This is the first I’m hearing about it, actually. I haven’t paid any attention to that,” Matt Damon recently told Vanity Fair after learning about the social media debates over which film fans will see first on opening night. “People are allowed to go see two movies in a weekend. ‘Oppenheimer’ is one of them!”
Damon has four daughters, so it might be presumed they go check out “Barbie” before “Oppenheimer.”
“I’ll have to ask them that,” Damon said. “If that’s the case, they’ll see two movies that weekend!”
Damon stars in “Oppenheimer” as General Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project who appointed J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) the task of developing the atomic bomb to end World War II.
“Groves was a military man, and so much of that ethos is about compartmentalization and the need to know all of the stuff,” Damon said. “And the scientists were all about sharing information so that they can get the truth right… there was this constant tension. The scientists felt it was actually necessary to be sharing all the information that they could, and the military felt we had to try to make whatever gains we could without giving away any of our secrets.”
Damon said that Nolan reconstructed the Manhattan Project town in Los Alamos so that the film’s set was completely immersive.
“You could see over the horizon the actual testing site and where the original town was,” Damon said. “Ruth [De Jong], our production designer, basically rebuilt the town, so we had an active kind of town to work in. It reminded me of shooting ‘[Saving] Private Ryan’ in the sense that [Steven] Spielberg would rebuild these areas and we had carte blanche — we could go anywhere we wanted to go. So, Chris had the flexibility to shoot as he wanted and needed to all around the town. It was fully immersive.”
Nolan recently confirmed that “Oppenheimer” will be his longest movie to date at nearly three hours. His previous longest movie, “Interstellar,” ran for 2 hours and 49 minutes.
“Oppenheimer” (and “Barbie”) opens in theaters nationwide July 21.