Oppenheimer is coming to streaming at the end of November, but here's why I'm buying it on 4K Blu-ray instead

Oppenheimer movie still
Artist's depiction of the author being blown away by the 4K Blu-ray's visual quality. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

It's official: Oppenheimer will be available to watch at home from November 21 2023 in the US, and November 22 in the UK and Europe. On those dates, it'll be available to buy or rent from streaming services such as iTunes or Amazon Prime Video, or as a 4K Blu-ray.

There's no information on when it'll be available for 'free' as part of a streaming package, but in the US we'd expect it to come to Peacock (because it was released by Universal, which is connected to the streamer), while in the UK it's most likely to come to Sky Cinema and NOW TV initially, which again is connected to Universal.

It comes with three hours of special features on both the digital and Blu-ray versions and will be available in 4K HDR – though in the case of the Blu-ray, at least, that won't include Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos support. Instead, it'll be a 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack. This is a shame, but it isn't surprising – director Christopher Nolan's films have never used Atmos. (If you want to hear the soundtrack in Atmos, however, it's on Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited in Dolby Atmos. Go figure.)

It's possible that the streaming release will include Dolby Vision, however – the streaming version of Tenet does, even though the 4K Blu-ray doesn't. But at the moment, the pre-order pages from Apple and Amazon don't confirm much about the streaming format, so we'll have to wait and see about that.

Despite all this, and the fact that the streaming release is cheaper than the 4K Blu-ray, this is one movie I'll definitely be getting on physical media, and IMAX is the reason.

Making the most of the big screen

Anyone who's followed Nolan's career knows the man loves IMAX large-format filming. Since The Dark Knight, all of his movies have at least had sections filmed in IMAX, if not large portions of it. In these sections, the picture is taller than regular widescreen movies, and what this means for home releases is that instead of having black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, the picture fills the whole TV in IMAX sections. It makes them fantastic showcases for the best TVs.

Except… not on the streaming versions. Watching Interstellar from a digital version is just disappointing because these amazing space and planet scenes never open up in the way they should. You're always hemmed in by those bars. Tenet is better for this, in that it's a taller aspect ratio, but it still doesn't have the full effect.

If you've invested in a big TV and you want that IMAX-like experience, you have to go old-fashioned and get the disc to put into one of the best 4K Blu-ray players. Even as someone who's quite happy buying movies from iTunes (I own literally hundreds there), this is where I'm absolutely going physical.

It also doesn't hurt that I can get the disc in this beautiful steelbook.

Oppenheimer steelbook Blu-ray set

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

You'll be able to pre-order the steelbook for $37.99 from Best Buy in the US, or you pre-order it now for £29.99 from HMV in the UK – or there's a different steelbook available at Amazon for £30 with its own nice design.

You might also like

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.