Christopher Nolan proclaims his new movie is about 'the most important person who ever lived'

At CinemaCon, Universal shares sneak peeks of "Oppenheimer," "Wicked," "Fall Guy" and a new "Exorcist" trilogy.

'Fast X,' 'Oppenheimer,' 'Strays' (Photo: Everett Collection, Universal Pictures, Universal Pictures via YouTube)
Fast X, Oppenheimer and Strays (Photo: Everett Collection, Universal Pictures, Universal Pictures via YouTube)

Pop quiz: Name the most important human who has ever lived?

To Christopher Nolan, the blockbuster-filmmaking human behind Memento, the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Dunkirk, the answer is J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist known as “father of the atomic bomb” who led America’s efforts in the nuclear arms race during World War II.

So Nolan, naturally, made a movie about him. The Oscar-nominated auteur opened Universal’s consistently entertaining CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas Wednesday night to tout Oppenheimer, his upcoming epic starring Cillian Murphy in the title role along with a star-studded supporting cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Benny Safdie, Josh Peck, Jason Clarke, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh and a few more that will keep you scrolling on IMDb.

Oppenheimer was “the most important person who ever lived,” Nolan told the audience. “He made the world that we live in. And his story has to be seen to be believed.”

The writer-director revealed the film’s first full trailer will debut in theaters ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5; he then showed CinemaCon a never-seen-before look at the tense drama that was shot on Imax cameras and reportedly clocks in at close to three hours.

The film tracks Oppenheimer as he recruits a team to join him on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory, where they hustle to build atomic weaponry that will stave off Russian threats. “This is the most important thing that’s happened in the history of mankind,” Damon’s Gen. Leslie Groves says in the footage, echoing Nolan’s emphatic comments. Testing the atomic bomb, however, comes with the tiny (yet still far too large for comfort) chance of decimating the planet’s entire population.

Nolan unsurprisingly drew a huge ovation from the audience of exhibitors; the director was one of the fiercest proponents of the theatrical experience when he publicly chided his previous studio home of Warner Bros. for releasing Tenet day-and-date on HBO Max.

See the first teaser for Oppenheimer below and keep reading for more highlights from Universal’s CinemaCon panel.


Universal closed its presentation with the first footage from Jon M. Chu’s highly anticipated big-screen adaptation of the beloved Broadway show, which is currently in production in London. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) and Ariana Grande star as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. The biggest takeaways from the footage: The land of Oz looks dazzling, with a set so painstakingly constructed, Chu noted the production team planted nine million tulips (!); the flying monkeys look more terrifying than ever; and a dancing Jeff Goldblum looks perfectly cast as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wicked will arrive in two parts, hitting theaters Nov. 27, 2024 and then at Christmas 2025.

The Exorcist: Believer

The recent Halloween trilogy from director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum worked out so well for Universal that they're running it back with another horror reboot: The Exorcist. The first installment, The Exorcist: Believer (Oct. 13), will mark the start of a planned trilogy “that extend and update [the original 1973 classic], like we did with Halloween,” Blum said. That includes bringing back a key legacy character (à la Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode) in Ellen Burstyn’s Chris MacNeil. Green and Blum screened the film’s excessively creepy first trailer, which ups the possession ante and has two tween girls battling demons.


Though Jack Black gamely “acted out” the plot of Kung-Fu Panda 4 (TBD) when he was made aware there was no trailer, the presentation’s funniest performance easily went to Will Ferrell. The funnyman arrived on stage with a dog named Sophie in his arms, then had the crowd in stitches for five minutes as he manufactured a harsh rivalry with his canine co-star. Even better: The very R-rated talking animal movie looks hilarious. Ferrell voices Reggie, whose seedy rural owner (Will Forte) abandons the pooch in the city, leaving Reggie with revenge on his mind as he bands with a small team of other dogs (voiced by Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher and Randall Park). “I’m going to bite his dick off,” vows Reggie. Told you it was R-rated.

The Fall Guy

After an impressive display of live stuntwork by stuntman-turned-director David Leitch’s 87North Production team, the filmmaker behind Deadpool 2 and Bullet Train brought out stars Ryan Gosling (back after cracking up the audience with his "Ken-ergy" promoting Barbie on Tuesday) and Emily Blunt. They unveiled a first trailer equal parts action and comedy — or as Gosling called it, “shrewdly edited footage with a world premiere vibe” — for their adaptation of the 1980s Lee Majors-fronted TV show. Gosling plays a retired stuntman called back into action by the director-girlfriend (Emily Blunt) whose heart he broke after sustaining a crushing injury on set. The film opens in March 2024.

Trolls: Band Together

“Jesus Christ that song follows me everywhere,” deadpanned Justin Timberlake as he took the stage with Anna Kendrick to the Trolls hit single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” The pair brought more entertaining banter and an unfinished first trailer for the third installment of the “weird wild glittery hairy musical franchise.” Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) are finally a couple now and about to tie the knot when Branch’s long-lost brother (Eric Andre) from his boy-band days turns up with an urgent mission. Amy Schumer, Daveed Diggs and RuPaul also join the cast. The film opens Nov. 17.

Fast X

There's not much new news to report on the 10th Fast and Furious movie. It’s close to hitting theaters (May 19), so the latest preview didn’t show off anything we haven’t seen already. But after a stilted recap of the first nine movies by co-stars Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang, Vin Diesel at least flipped the script... when he refused to read it. Diesel went off-prompter, which was entertaining enough, though he spent most of his time on stage profusely thanking the movie theater owners in the audience. "I'd rather be here than the Oscars," he told them. Wait, is he giving up his Academy Award dreams for the Fast series?