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‘Oppenheimer’ becomes biggest biopic of all time

The film surpasses Bohemian Rhapsody, which previously held the box office record for most successful biopic

By Carita Rizzo

Cillian Murphy in ‘Oppenheimer’. UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has overtaken Bohemian Rhapsody as the highest ever grossing biopic. The film starring Cillian Murphy as the father of the atomic bomb, Robert J. Oppenheimer, has now grossed $912.7 (£736 million) across the globe, taking it past Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody’s $910.8 million (£734 million).

Oppenheimer has already broken box office records this summer. It is Universal Studio’s highest grossing R-rated film, and currently the third-highest grossing film of 2023 behind Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. It is also Nolan’s third highest grossing film, after The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

The film no doubt benefited from being released at the same time as Greta Gerwig’s smash hit Barbie, with the #barbenheimer hashtag encouraging movie-goers to see both films. The double feature inspired lively commentary from both conservative pundits and avid fans of film, while also inciting criticism for cultural insensitivity. Warner Bros. U.S. issued an apology to its Japanese distribution arm for sharing social media content through the official Barbie account that Warner Bros. Japan deemed inconsiderate. “Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement. The studio offers a sincere apology,” the company shared in a statement, according to Variety.

Rolling Stone US called Nolan’s starry biopic, which is adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus, a “big, loud, must-see.” “Oppenheimer is one of those shoot-for-the-moon projects that feels thrilling and wonky, brilliant and overstuffed, too much and yet not enough,” writes David Fear. “It’s also a movie that brings to mind the difficult era-spanning epics of yesteryear, from Reds to The Right Stuff, and is a movie made by adults for adults yet done with the sweep and majesty we now associate with movies made for kids and teens.”