A month of filming deleted for Oppenheimer! Why Christopher Nolan made this rare decision?


Oppenheimer, who is currently a hit in the cinema, shot in just 55 days! How is this possible on a blockbuster of this magnitude? Explanations.

Released in cinemas on July 19, Oppenheimer continues to explode the box office! Christopher Nolan’s biopic about the father of the atomic bomb has grossed nearly $800 million worldwide!

The work, which immerses us in the tortured and fascinating psyche of Robert Oppenheimer, lasts 3 hours and puts the viewers’ nerves to the test! However, the movie could have been even longer if Nolan hadn’t decided to cut the filming time.

Indeed, Oppenheimer was shot in a little less than 2 months, which is rather short for a blockbuster of this magnitude with a budget of $100 million. Initially, the work plan provided for 85 days. Christopher Nolan preferred to tighten the duration of filming… but for what reason?

Asked at the microphone of Team Deakins podcast, production designer Ruth De Jong has revealed why the filmmaker made this rare decision. In general, the directors do not save a month of filming; the more time they have to shoot, the happier they are. For De Jong, Oppenheimer was more like shooting an independent film and not that of a 100 million blockbuster.

Nolan wanted to shoot on the real locations across the United States, but it was blowing the budget. In addition, the place that hosted the Manhattan Project scientists in New Mexico had to be built from A to Z. “I realize that I have to build Los Alamos, which doesn’t exist. That’s when I really felt it was impossible. Chris said to me: Let’s forget the money. Let’s just design what we want to”remembers the decorator.

“Then we came up with an initial estimate for the construction of the city, which was $20 million. Chris said to us: Ok, no. Stop it. We had a huge white model and I started extracting buildings, plus we wanted to shoot in New York, New Jersey, Berkley, Los Angeles and New Mexico.”explains Ruth De Jong.

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Christopher Nolan then told his teams to be patient, that he had to go “to do one’s homework”. The director carried out a reorganization of the shooting schedule in order to consolidate the days and free up the budget for the design of the sets. Thus, the scenario writer reduced the duration of the turning of one month, going from 85 to 55 days.

“The producers asked me what I could do on my side to reduce the budget. Thomas Hayslip [producteur délégué] came into my office and said, ‘Chris is going to shoot in 55 days’. That’s a lot of money we get back!

At that point, I felt compelled to outdo myself because he had just given up precious days. More than anyone, Nolan knows what he wants to do each day and how he wants to do it, and so he went from 85 days to 55.”said Ruth De Jong.

Christopher Nolan will finally have won his bet. By reducing his shooting days and the use of digital effects, allocating more budget to his sets, his work has gained in realism. This authenticity can partly explain the success of the film and its 800 million greenbacks earned worldwide. In France, Oppenheimer attracted nearly 4 million spectators.



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