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Christopher Nolan’s Next Movie Could Break James Bond’s Record (If He’s Bold Enough)

Christopher Nolan’s next movie will be a WWII drama based on J. Robert Oppenheimer, and it has the chance to beat an explosive James Bond record.

Director Christopher Nolan‘s next movie, which is about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb, could beat a movie record set by James Bond film Spectre. Nolan’s follow-up to Tenet will see him return to World War II, after previously directing 2017’s Dunkirk, but for a very different kind of war movie. Rather than promising an action-heavy movie like that, this sounds like something that should be more of an introspective drama and character study of one of the most important minds of the 20th Century.

Oppenheimer was among those involved in the Manhattan Project, developing nuclear weapons for use during World War II. The atomic bomb was later used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, though he later took something of a stance against such weapons, lobbying against the nuclear arms race and the development of the hydrogen bomb. All of this will presumably be covered in Nolan’s new movie, which will be released by Universal rather than his usual home of Warner Bros., but given the director’s penchant for spectacle it does leave some intriguing prospects up in the air.


Related: Tenet Proves Nolan Is Perfect To Reboot James Bond

As it stands, Spectre holds the record for the largest explosion in movie history. The blowing up of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s base in the 2015 Bond movie was filmed in the desert in Morocco, and used around 33kg of explosives, well over 2,000 of fuel, and multiple detonators to create an astonishing, ongoing blast. It’s the kind of incredible record and achievement in practical effects that Nolan himself would presumably be rather proud of – Tenet did blow up a real plane, after all – and, given he’s making a movie about the atomic bomb, might he attempt to top it? The most out-there idea is that Nolan actually wants to use a real atomic bomb, making that seen in the movie (which will surely show an explosion of one, whether that’s the Trinity test or depicting the United States’ bombings of Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki ) seem as realistic as possible. Would Nolan at least ask the question? Absolutely – it’s the kind of moviemaking madness he would surely love to attempt. Would it be at all possible? Unsurprisingly, probably not.

Spectre Bond Blofeld Explosion

It is clear that Nolan has big plans for this movie, with a reported budget around the $100 million mark meaning it won’t just be a standard biopic. Using a small atomic bomb would explain such a budget as it’d eat up most of it (when the US was modifying its B61 thermonuclear bombs, the estimated cost was around $20 million each, via USUSA). That’s just about doable if Nolan dared to attempt it, albeit leaving little room for error, though bigger concerns would be around safety and legality. Nolan would need to find somewhere to detonate an atomic bomb, meaning a vast expense of land that can just be completely destroyed without any impact upon civilians. Even if he did that, it’s still difficult to imagine him being granted permission to do so (nuclear weapons tests, for instance, can only be carried out underground (and generally not by movie directors), which makes the idea of filming one even more implausible). If any filmmaker could pull it off, it would be Nolan, but it’s more likely he’d find a way of aiming to replicate it as close as possible without the need for any uranium involvement.

Even with that, then, Nolan’s next movie would still rocket far beyond the record set by Spectre. An atomic bomb can contain the explosive power of around 15-20,000 tons of T.N.T., and depending on the explosive of choice Nolan goes for and even allowing for some CGI trickery to enhance it (it’s hard to imagine he’d go quite that far, though he may well be tempted to, he’d still be looking at a number of explosives, fuel, and detonators that would completely dwarf that used by any movie production in history. Prior to the Trinity test (the first of a nuclear weapon), there was a test using explosives equalling over 100 tons of TNT, which might be more in the comprehensible ballpark of what he aims for. Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker long linked to James Bond, and Tenet was essentially his attempt at making one; with his Oppenheimer movie, he has another chance of blowing right past 007.

Next: Every Christopher Nolan Movie Ranked Worst To Best

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