After parting with Warner Bros. after nearly 20 years, Christopher Nolan is set to helm another historical drama, this time telling the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer — the “father of the atomic bomb.”

After a public fallout with Warner Bros. last year over its decision to release its entire 2021 catalogue concurrently on HBO Max, Nolan slammed HBO Max as “the worst streaming service,” and called the studio’s decision “a real bait and switch… [it’s] not how you treat filmmakers and stars and people who – these guys have given a lot for these projects. They deserved to be consulted and spoken to about what was going to happen to their work,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Deadline was first to report that Universal Pictures has landed the right to finance — with an operating budget of $100 million — and distribute Nolan’s latest film, which is slated to begin filming this spring.

While many critics deemed Nolan’s 2020 film “Tenet” a sci-fi clunker, the director has a strong track record of box office hits, including his 2014 film “Interstellar”, “The Dark Knight”, and his 2017 Oscar-winning film “Dunkirk”, which was about the pivotal evacuation of Allied forces in 1940 from mainland Europe.

Nolan’s upcoming film on Oppenheimer will once again move the director firmly into historical dramas, and there’s certainly no shortage of the latter.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was in charge of the Los Alamos, New Mexico, atomic bomb experiment, points to a photograph of the huge column of smoke and flame caused by the actual use of the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. (Getty Images)
J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was in charge of the Los Alamos, New Mexico, atomic bomb experiment, points to a photograph of the huge column of smoke and flame caused by the actual use of the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. (Getty Images)

Beginning in 1942 under the code name the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer spearheaded the U.S. development of the atomic bomb during the Second World War.

At the time, Oppenheimer wrote that work on the bomb “consisted of numerous scattered experimental projects. Although I had no administrative experience and was not an experimental physicist, I felt sufficiently informed and challenged by the problem to be glad to accept.”

The theoretical questions that faced Oppenheimer and his team were staggering.

“Among other things,” writes historian Robert LaRue, “the Berkeley participants wanted to determine the yield of an atomic weapon. How much explosive force could be expected from the gadget they were contemplating? What might be its effects?”

Another concern? Igniting the atmosphere and possibly causing the end of the world.

While little has been released about the nature of the film, it presumably will focus on Oppenheimer’s work within the Berkeley group and his role in the Trinity Test in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was successfully detonated.

Upon seeing the success of the Trinity Test, Oppenheimer knew the world would not be the same — famously quoting the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

“I suppose we all thought that one way or another,” Oppenheimer later recalled.

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped Oppenheimer’s bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively, killing more than 100,000 people and precipitating the Empire of Japan’s surrender.

Oppenheimer’s words were prescient. He had indeed created a weapon that would forever change the course of human history.

Nolan wrote the script about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, and while casting has yet to take place, Cillian Murphy — a frequent cast member in Nolan’s films — is rumored as a possible member of the ensemble.