Universal’s “Oppenheimer” is winding down its spectacular theatrical run, but not before taking one more huge box office record: the highest-grossing biopic of all time.
In its ninth weekend in theaters, “Oppenheimer” added $12 million worldwide to bring its global total to $912.7 million. In doing so, it passed the previous record set by the Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which grossed $902 million in 2018 before inflation adjustment.
That “Oppenheimer” would get this far is something that few, if any, would have predicted when it hit theaters on July 21. Universal certainly didn’t expect this, as insiders told TheWrap that the studio reached a deal with director Christopher Nolan to produce the film with the hopes that it would perform similarly to his 2017 World War II film “Dunkirk,” which grossed $525 million globally.
Instead, “Oppenheimer” has become the third highest-grossing film of 2023 and the third highest-grossing film of Nolan’s career. Only “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” outgrossed this three-hour, R-rated biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb.
In a box-office market where dramas about real-world issues have been almost entirely ignored by moviegoers, Nolan’s draw as a filmmaker has shown that it spans the globe.
Universal’s promotion of the film as a truly major motion picture event helped spark a desire to not only see the film, but to see it on the biggest screen possible. Imax has reported that “Oppenheimer” has grossed a massive $179 million on its screens, accounting for roughly 20% of the movie’s entire gross.
While the awards season is currently in doubt due to Hollywood’s double strike by writers and actors, “Oppenheimer” will be a heavy favorite at this year’s Academy Awards. If “Oppenheimer” wins Best Picture, it will be the highest-grossing film to win that honor since “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” grossed $1.1 billion 20 years ago. In fact, it would be the first Best Picture winner to gross over $500 million at the box office since 2003.
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