Why Is Oppenheimer Rated R - And Why Is That Kind Of A Big Deal?

Christopher Nolan is joining forces with Universal this year to bring the story of nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to the big screen in the highly anticipated biopic, "Oppenheimer." The film, which is scheduled for a July 21 release, will star Cillian Murphy in the title role and also feature  Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, and Robert Downey, Jr. 

"Oppenheimer" marks several notable milestones for Nolan, one of which is the film's R rating for what a recently released teaser notes as "some sexuality, nudity, and language." "Oppenheimer" will be Nolan's first R-rated feature film since 2002's "Insomnia" and is also Nolan's first ever biographical feature film.

In addition to providing the film's MPAA rating and content clues, the teaser also indicates that tickets are now available for purchase. A three-plus-minute trailer indicates that the film will focus on the scientific and geopolitical elements of the Manhattan Project as well as the personal stories of Robert Oppenheimer, his wife Kitty (Emily Blunt), and other key members of the top-secret project's team. "Oppenheimer" will be the first IMAX film ever shot in black and white, and the trailer features several magnificent shots of the American southwest, where testing for the project took place in the mid-1940s.

However, the R-rating for "Oppenheimer" isn't just notable for Nolan's return to the rating. In fact, the rating might signal something bigger about the film's competition in its opening weekend.

Oppenheimer marks Christopher Nolan's split from Warner Discovery

That "Oppenheimer" carries an R rating and is slated for release opposite Warner's upcoming "Barbie" feature is probably not entirely coincidental. Considering his film is targeted at a completely different audience from the PG-13 rated "Barbie," releasing it on the same weekend is a clear shot at the studio from which Christopher Nolan had a recent acrimonious split.Anxious moviegoers and gossip hounds will have to wait another month or so to see who wins the war of spite between Nolan and Warner, but the anticipation for both films is high, and both should rake in big numbers on what promises to be a banner summer movie weekend.

Both films have a tall task in making studio accountants happy, with production budgets of around $100 million. In the case of "Oppenheimer," that money can clearly be seen in the elaborate practical effects and spectacular desert shots visible in the previews. The IMAX presentation also promises to add an immersive element to "Oppenheimer" that should further distinguish it from its most immediate competitor.