Image via Universal Pictures

Writer/director Christopher Nolan is known for making massive tentpole films that draw big summer audiences and repeat viewings for those who want to pick apart his labyrinthine plotting or figure out what the heck various people with strong accents are saying. While that typically necessitates that his films bear a PG-13 rating, Nolan’s upcoming Oppenheimer biopic has landed an R from the MPAA.

Although Nolan’s first three films — Following, Memento, and Insomnia — were all R-rated, the director has stayed in the PG-13 realm since 2005’s Batman Begins. Even his WWII nail-biter Dunkirk (2017) was able to nab a PG-13 by focusing on the mechanics of suspense rather than violence in a wartime setting.

However, per The Hollywood Reporter, Nolan’s Oppenheimer is breaking the streak, so presumably his well-dressed protagonists will dropping some F-bombs right along with their atomic explosions. The official MPAA language at the end of a new TV spot released by Universal states the film is rated R for “some sexuality, nudity, and language”:

While Nolan’s early films have their share of vulgarities — including that Memento scene where Carrie-Ann Moss goes all in on the “C” word — sex and nudity are something new for the typically demure director. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, so maybe they’re to blame for the extra skin.

Still, we find the R rating encouraging: Nolan has been heralded for decades as one of the best directors in the business, but for a while now he’s been tied to making what are essentially really intense family films. As he matures as an artist, it only makes sense that he would want to tackle more niche subject matter, and sometimes that means telling a story that’s just for adults.

Personally, we’d like to see him helm a Seven-like thriller or maybe even a horror film at some point in his career. Although, whatever his next project is, the timing lines up suspiciously well with the search for a new James Bond; so maybe he’s retreating to the world of PG-13 sooner rather than later. But if someone would finally give the man an Oscar, he might be incentivized to keep his puzzle-box theatrics and large-format revelations firmly away from the kiddies’ table.

Oppenheimer releases July 21, and tickets are on sale now.


About the author

Matt Wayt

Matt Wayt

Matt lives in Hollywood and enjoys writing about art and the business that tries to kill it. He loves Tsukamoto and Roger Rabbit, and thinks snap zooms in CG shots are tacky.