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Denis Villeneuve’s New Movie (Not Dune 3) Sets Up A Great Battle With Christopher Nolan

April 8, 20245 Mins Read


  • Villeneuve’s Nuclear War: A Scenario explores the chilling consequences of nuclear conflict, echoing Oppenheimer’s warnings.
  • Villeneuve’s upcoming film stands as a poignant cautionary tale on the dangers of nuclear weaponry, drawing on real-life military insights.
  • Comparisons to Nolan highlight Villeneuve’s potential for cinematic success, with both directors skillfully blending spectacle and depth.

Director Denis Villeneuve has a new movie in the works, and it sets up an epic battle with Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece Oppenheimer, which collected $965 million at the box office. The acclaimed sci-fi director’s recent cinematic success with Dune 2 has amassed a staggering $660.1 million at the box office as of the time of this writing, indicating promising prospects for future installments. Now, Denis Villeneuve’s next movie after Dune 2 will be a film adaptation of Annie Jacobsen’s nonfiction book Nuclear War: A Scenario. Once again partnering with Legendary Entertainment, Villeneuve is anticipated to commence work on the film following the completion of Dune Messiah.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Jacobsen wrote Nuclear War: A Scenario as a nonfiction exploration of the potential consequences of a nuclear conflict on humanity. It draws on numerous military personnel and civilians privy to response strategies in the event of such a cataclysmic tragedy. Villeneuve’s adaptation is poised to serve as a cautionary tale, depicting the ominous possibilities should nations exploit the arsenal of weapons at their disposal. It has the potential to explore the profound horrors associated with the use of nuclear arms, akin to the contemplative depth seen in Nolan’s Oppenheimer.


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Denis Villeneuve’s Nuclear War Movie Sets Up Oppenheimer Comparisons

It Directly Builds On The Thematic Essence of Oppenheimer

Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming film, Nuclear War: A Scenario, will directly build upon the thematic essence of Oppenheimer. Christopher Nolan’s movie explored the journey of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s work on the atomic bomb and his subsequent life thereafter. The culmination of Oppenheimer emphasizes his grave warning regarding the destructive potential of nuclear weapons and their perilous implications for humanity’s future. However, Nolan’s film could not depict Oppenheimer’s apprehensions materializing into reality, given that atomic bombs have not been utilized since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite their continued existence as a deterrent against nuclear warfare.

In Nuclear War: A Scenario, Oppenheimer’s profound concerns will be vividly realized. Anchored in Annie Jacobsen’s nonfiction book, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of an impending nuclear conflict, exploring the consequences of the reactivation of atomic bombs and nuclear warheads. Drawing from insights provided by military personnel and nuclear experts familiar with contingency plans for nuclear launches, the film envisages a scenario of global nuclear warfare. Thus, Nuclear War‘s storyline charts the harrowing aftermath of a potential nuclear World War III, illustrating the catastrophic ramifications of the weapons created by J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Denis Villeneuve & Christopher Nolan Have Long Been Comparable

They’re Two Of The Best Filmmakers Of The 21st Century

Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan have long been comparable as directors. They are two of the best filmmakers of the 21st century – Villeneuve has so far been nominated for three Academy Awards, five BAFTA Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. Nolan, meanwhile, has been nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning two), eight BAFTA Awards (winning two), and six Golden Globe Awards (winning one). They are both also particularly adept at making smart, sci-fi blockbusters, be it Villeneuve’s Arrival, Blade Runner, and Dune or Nolan’s Inception, Interstellar, and Tenet.

Nolan and Villeneuve have also made two of the biggest and best science-as-spectacle films of the past few years. Both Dune: Part Two and Oppenheimer received spectacular reviews and widespread acclaim from audiences. They both blended spectacle with emotionally resonant narratives and profound themes, culminating in blockbusters that also won multiple awards. Oppenheimer won seven Oscars, five Golden Globe Awards, and seven BAFTAs (including Best Film), while the original Dune was nominated for 10 Academy Awards (winning six), three Golden Globe Awards (winning one), 11 BAFTA Awards (winning five), and 10 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards (winning three).

Will Denis Villeneuve Match Christopher Nolan’s Box Office Success?

While it is debatable who is the better director, Nolan undeniably stands out as the more prominent and influential figure–so far. This is partly due to his directorial ventures, notably the Batman films, which have significantly bolstered his reputation. The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight remain Nolan’s biggest hits. Nolan’s portfolio also includes a greater number of mainstream films, while Villeneuve has fewer major films in his filmography. The staggering success of Oppenheimer, raking in nearly $1 billion, is astounding. In contrast, while Dune: Part Two has performed admirably, it appears unlikely to reach such astronomical figures.

As for Villeneuve’s upcoming project, the lack of information makes it challenging to gauge its potential. With the success of Dune: Part Two, one might anticipate that Dune 3 will be even bigger. However, whether Villeneuve can ascend to the same level of acclaim as Nolan remains uncertain. Oppenheimer had several things going for it, from excellent performances, to a star-studded cast to the summer fervor around Barbenheimer which became a cultural phenomenon. Villeneuve’s Nuclear War: A Scenario will undoubtedly have a major star cast and tremendous scale, but matching Oppenheimer’s box office success will be no easy task. If any director is up to the challenge, however, it’s Denis Villeneuve.

Oppenheimer Poster


Oppenheimer is a film by Christopher Nolan, which follows the theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the atomic bomb. Cillian Murphy will play the titular role, with the story based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.

Release Date
July 21, 2023

Syncopy Inc. , Atlas Entertainment

Universal Pictures

150 Minutes

$100 Million

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