Following Barbenheimer backlash, Oppenheimer gets Japan release

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Oppenheimer will get a Japan release following a public outcry over Warner Bros US’s ‘regrettable’ marketing of the film.


Back in August, Warner Bros Japan publicly criticised its US division for leaning into the Barbenheimer marketing angle for the release of both Barbie and Oppenheimer. Considering the enduring impact that the detonation of two atomic bombs has had on Japanese society, it remains a sensitive topic in the country, and there was something of a backlash against both films in Japan, where the Barbenheimer craze was seen as trivialising the seriousness of the film’s subject matter.

We even witnessed a rare occurrence in corporate culture: Warner Bros Japan publicly calling out its US counterpart for the Barbie distributor’s frothy engagement with Barbenheimer social media activity.

As for Oppenheimer, the film’s Japanese distributor, Bitters End elected not to release the film while tensions were running high. Even as the film was swept along on a global wave of critical and commercial success, the hashtag #nobarbenheimer was trending on Japanese social media.

Read more: Oppenheimer review | A minor miracle of a movie

Now the anger seems to have died down, however, Bitter Ends has publicly announced (via the Guardian) that Oppenheimer will be releasing in Japan at some point next year. The distributor has spoken about the decision to release the film, stating:

“The film’s subject matter is of great importance and holds special meaning for Japanese people, so we decided to release it in Japan after various discussions and considerations.”

Waiting until 2024 certainly seems like a fitting way to respectfully release the film and fully divorce it from the summer 2023 release of Barbie. Then, the release of Oppenheimer can be fully digested in Japan in the way that perhaps its subject matter deserves to be. Christopher Nolan’s biopic has currently earned $950m at the global box office and is a shoo-in for awards contention too.

We’re all eagerly waiting to see what he does next, but apparently, it won’t be a 007 movie, according to the filmmaker himself.

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