Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer Gets Record-Breaking Runtime (Update)

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
Oppenheimer cillian murphy

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer will reportedly be a record-breaker for the director who has famously made some long movies over the years.

The acclaimed director will soon make his post-pandemic return to theaters with Oppenheimer - a biopic exploring the Manhattan Project and the life of Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), known to many as the father of the atomic bomb.

The first trailer for the July release recently debuted in front of IMAX screenings of Avatar: The Way of Water, showing off its stacked cast of all-star actors.

Oppenheimer's Long Runtime Revealed

Oppenheimer poster

According to the latest "What I'm Hearing" newsletter from Puck's Matt Belloni, Christopher Nolan's next movie Oppenheimer will break the director's record for his longest movie yet.

That record was previously held by 2014's Interstellar at a shocking 169 minutes (2 hours, 49 minutes). But Nolan's new nuclear blockbuster will reportedly surpass it, clocking in at around the three-hour mark.

However, it should be noted that Oppenheimer does not yet seem to be locked, so, pending any last-minute adjustments from Nolan and co., that three-hour runtime may go up or down slightly. 

A full list of Nolan's wildly-varied movie runtimes up until now can be seen below: 

  • Following - 70 minutes
  • Memento - 113 minutes
  • Insomnia - 118 minutes
  • Batman Begins - 140 minutes
  • The Prestige - 130 minutes
  • The Dark Knight - 152 minutes
  • Inception - 148 minutes
  • The Dark Knight Rises - 165 minutes
  • Interstellar - 169 minutes
  • Dunkirk - 106 minutes
  • Tenet - 150 minutes

Nolan will need the extra time on this go-around to explore his stacked cast that includes Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr., Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Rami Malek, and countless more Hollywood A-listers.

UPDATE: On the red carpet for his upcoming movie Air, Matt Damon has confirmed that Oppenheimer has a runtime of approximately 3 hours.

"It’s three hours. It’s fantastic."

Damon further hypes up Chris Nolan's next movie by affirming that the lead of Oppenheimer, Cillian Murphy, is "phenomenal":

Cillian is phenomenal. He’s everything you would want him to be. I think it’s almost three hours. It goes so fast, it’s great." 

Interestingly, Matt Damon's quotes seem to imply that he has seen a finished cut of the movie, meaning Oppenheimer could be picture-locked now ahead of its release on July 21st. 

You can watch the full interview with Matt Damon below:

Why Oppenheimer Needs A Long Runtime

With regard to why Oppenheimer is so long, Nolan already explained that the movie will span 45 years, and with such a huge cast on board, the director has a lot to explore this time around, clearly justifying a three-hour runtime.

Audiences have become increasingly enamored with runtimes in recent years when it comes to both movies and television. Generally, the consensus seems to be that longer movies and episodes are preferable. 

But at the same time, director James Cameron recently had to defend the long runtime of Avatar: The Way of Water, pointing out how audiences will happily binge-watch eight hours of TV but complain about a movie being even three hours.

Then again, the complaints about movies being too long are usually pointed more toward those with family target audiences that are likely to have children with short attention spans watching, but that probably isn't Oppenheimer.

Nolan's nuclear thriller has yet to receive an age rating, but given the intense subject matter, this probably won't be one to target the younger audience, at least not for the most part.

Oppenheimer hits theaters on July 21, 2023.

- In This Article: Oppenheimer
Release Date
July 21, 2023
Cillian Murphy
Matt Damon
- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.