For Chris Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer,’ an R Rating Is a Calculated Risk | Analysis

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A willingness to forgo a PG-13 for the atom-bomb epic shows Universal pitching itself as a safe studio for marquee filmmakers

Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema on the set of "Oppenheimer" (Universal Pictures)

“Oppeneheimer,” Chris Nolan’s three-hour atomic bomb thriller detailing the origins and mechanics of the Manhattan Project through the eyes of J. Robert Oppenheimer, will arrive in theaters on July 21 with an R rating.

An MPA classification of “restricted” for “some sexuality, nudity and language”: Is Nolan bringing sexy back to Hollywood? “Oppenheimer” will be his first R-rated title since “Insomnia” in the summer of 2002, and the first since he became Hollywood’s biggest marquee director.

It’s a calculated risk for Universal. While perhaps limiting the film’s commercial potential, the rating helps position the Cillian Murphy-led epic as the official grown-up movie of summer.