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One of the greatest successes of the 2023 movie release schedule has been, without question, Christopher Nolan’s biographical drama epic Oppenheimer. A box office smash, the critically-acclaimed film almost feels like a shoo-in for end of year accolades from various awards bodies.
Both of those factors are probably part of why Universal has announced that another IMAX 70mm run is coming very soon. While I’m extremely pleased with this news, and Tom Cruise probably isn’t, I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on the blessed event, yet again. That's right, again.
The Details For Oppenheimer’s Latest IMAX 70MM Engagement
As I specified above, Universal announced today that Oppenheimer will be heading back to IMAX in “select showtimes.” That being said, if you thought that the scope of the previous premium rollout was limiting, brace yourself for what I’m about to tell you: the movie will back for one week only in its second wave.
It gets worse: not only is this next run starting on November 3rd, a mere few days from this story’s publication, but only a handful of locations will be showing the movie the way Christopher Nolan intended it to be seen. Below is the list of locations that present the Cillian Murphy-led historical ensemble piece in that sweet, sweet IMAX 70mm print:
AMC CityWalk Stadium 19 IMAX(Hollywood, CA)
AMC Irvine Spectrum (Irvine, CA)
AMC Lincoln Square IMAX (New York, NY)
AMC Metreon 16 IMAX (San Francisco, CA)
BFI IMAX London (UK)
Melbourne Museum IMAX (Australia)
That first location is no surprise, as the AMC CityWalk was still showing Oppenheimer in IMAX 70MM until not too long ago. What’s really shocking is the fact that while the company has been teasing a future in revival screenings for a couple months now, people like myself that missed out the first time don’t have a lot of time to get it together to try and correct that fact. Which leads me to the story about how I missed out on this spectacle in the first place.
How I (Almost) Saw Oppenheimer In IMAX 70MM
Sometimes fate falls into place in such a way that you end up missing out on things you were supposed to enjoy. That’s exactly what happened the night I journeyed to my press screening for Christopher Nolan’s latest movie in order to write our Oppenheimer review. While the night was supposed to allow us regional critics an advanced IMAX 70mm showing, something happened with the projector that night and the film wasn’t running. At the last minute, the theater had to switch over to its digital IMAX print it had as a backup.
Now, of course, the movie still wowed the crowd, despite this unintended hiccup. But as anyone will tell you, a movie on a standard physical print is a cinematic event. So seeing this pivotal aspect of IMAX presentations acting as the ultimate blocker to such delights only hammers home the point that proper planning is sorely needed for showings such as these.
To have Oppenheimer in IMAX 70mm, a format that has sadly shrunken in profile in recent years, is even more of a cinematic unicorn to try and catch. I’m really happy that Universal decided to provide movie fans another shot to get in on fun, but this new announcement gives me pause.
Why Oppenheimer’s Surprise IMAX Run Has Me Worried
When Oppenheimer was released this past summer with a much more plentiful IMAX 70mm location list at the ready, it was already hard enough to get a ticket. Dropping the news of this latest run mere days before it’s going to happen, and for a week of "select showtimes" only, doesn’t exactly instill confidence that the same factors that stopped me from enjoying this format won’t crop up again.
If I’m going to make the hike from New Jersey to New York through public transit, I need time to plan. I’m sure the people who drove hours to their own closest IMAX 70mm location are siding with me on this point, as only a week’s worth of showtimes doesn’t leave much margin for error. If anything, it looks like Universal just introduced “Oppenheimer Hard Mode” to the game, and that’s pretty fearsome to me.
We’re still not at a point where new IMAX 70mm screens could be built, though the top brass at the exhibition giant have talked about how that could happen. Not to mention, I'm starting to wonder how many physical prints are currently available/allocated for this hoopla, and why more weren't included as part of the plan. As a fan of IMAX since it first started moving from science centers to movie theaters, it breaks my heart that the preferred version of Oppenheimer is so close, yet so far from my grasp.
Only 30 screens worldwide can show IMAX 70MM, and you can bet all of those screens will be part of this grand revival. So why not bring the fun back to each of those locations, rather than allow the other 24 that aren’t listed to just show a digital print? Part of what caused Oppenheimer to become a near $1 billion hit is the novelty of the format we’ve been discussing, so this feels like a bit of a miscalculation.
While this new release push could quite possibly break that sought-after ceiling with worldwide grosses, one could argue that the odds would have been more favorable if it wasn’t happening in such a limited capacity. I’m afraid I’m going to miss Oppie in his larger than life form yet again, but for now, I’m going to take a close look at my schedule and see if I can’t make some magic happen. Otherwise, I’ll just have to hold out hope that a longer, more robust offering is already in the works for a much kinder box office window.
Should you live anywhere near those locations listed, don’t delay! Get your tickets to see Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy’s scientific epic in the version it’s meant to truly shine in, and don’t look back. Who knows when, or where, this special event will be back our way again.
As for you home entertainment enthusiasts, Oppenheimer will be available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on November 21st. You can preorder it on Amazon, or wherever you prefer to do your physical media shopping.