‘Oppenheimer’ Is Highest-Grossing Best Picture Winner Since ‘Lord of the Rings’


The Big Picture

  • Oppenheimer
    won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, becoming the third highest-grossing movie of all time to do so, with $960.7 million worldwide.
  • Christopher Nolan also won for Best Director, along with Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. winning in their respective acting categories.
  • Oppenheimer
    features a star-studded cast and is available to stream on Peacock.

Oppenheimer has just completed a magnificent evening of gold-plated glory at tonight’s Academy Awards, topped off by its deserved award for Best Picture. Christopher Nolan‘s masterpiece has broken a number of records since release and claimed another one tonight — one which probably was not anticipated by anybody when it was first greenlit. Nolan’s film, a three-hour biopic and historical thriller about the development of the first atomic bomb, wasn’t just critically acclaimed, it was an unexpected commercial success.

At a box office total, worldwide, of just over $960 million to date, the movie has become the third highest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time, following in the footsteps of other blockbuster winners like James Cameron‘s Titanic, and Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That total will no doubt rise as the movie is inevitably re-released, hopefully making “Billionheimer” a realistic prospect.

The top five highest-grossing Best Picture winners (not adjusted for inflation) can be found below. Figures are courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.


Box Office


$2.2 billion

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

$1.146 billion


$960.7 million

Forrest Gump

$678.2 million


$465.3 million

How Did ‘Oppenheimer’ Make So Much Money?

A huge amount of that money came from IMAX and premium large-format screenings. Referred to by Nolan as the “gold standard” of film, Oppenheimer played in 70mm IMAX format in just 30 locations worldwide, with fans booking tickets weeks, and indeed months, in advance just to see it. Even Nolan himself was surprised by the interest in the film, which broke records for the format around the globe, as he told Collider in November:

“One of the things that we got a very visible response to was the theatrical presentation, the IMAX presentation in particular, using film and using film prints that went out there into the world. Those screens, in particular, I mean, we broke the all-time record of the Chinese with the print we had there. I think, as of last weekend, we became the third highest-grossing IMAX film in America after ‘
Star Wars’
and ‘
.’ I mean, for a film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, it was extraordinary.”

The movie also stars the likes of Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh. Oppenheimer is available on Peacock to stream. You can read our review here.


The story of American scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.

Release Date
July 21, 2023

180 minutes

Watch on Peacock


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