How many stars? Ultra-observant ‘Oppenheimer’ viewers noted this American flag gaffe

Cillian Murphy's Robert Oppenheimer stands in a crowd of people waving U.S. flags in "Oppenheimer"
Moviegoers have noticed a mistake in props in one scene from Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”
(Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)
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There is no shortage of faults to be found among the stars in one scene from Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed biopic “Oppenheimer.” And we’re not talking about the stars acting in the movie.

Moviegoers have pointed out a flaw in a scene where Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer stands in a crowd of people waving U.S. flags. The mistake in question? The number of stars on those flags.

“It was good and all, but I’ll be that guy and complain they used 50-star flags in a scene set in 1945,” Andrew Craig tweeted.


Starring Cillian Murphy in the title role as the architect of the Manhattan Project, the historical drama also features Florence Pugh and Robert Downey Jr.

July 19, 2023

In 1945 there were only 48 stars on the flag because Alaska and Hawaii had yet to become states. The 50-star flag debuted in 1960, a year after the two non-contiguous territories achieved statehood.

Another fan of the historical epic pointed out that the 48-star flag was used elsewhere in the movie.

Predictably, Nolan’s dedicated fan base came to the auteur’s defense, with one Nolan Head tweeting, “personally i think it was done intentionally, because coloured scenes were from oppenheimer’s perspective which is his present day’s memory that was after the 50-star flag was established.”

Diving into an explosive episode of 20th century history that launched the nuclear age, director Christopher Nolan unleashes the most ambitious film of his career.

July 11, 2023

Nolan has not commented on the apparent gaffe.

Others entered the blooper discourse to discuss the absurdity of people picking up on such small mistakes and commenting on them.

“I’m the one that went around every movie theater to stop the movie and announce this,” Broti Gupta tweeted. “People love to have me around for social events because I put everyone at ease.”

Another person joked, “there goes the best picture oscar,” while someone else sniped, “Me un-loving Oppenheimer upon hearing this information. The movie is now a 0/10, immersion ruined.”


I saw Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ back-to-back and lived to tell the tale.

July 25, 2023

And it wouldn’t be a proper discussion of “Oppenheimer” without pitting it against its bubbly counterpart, “Barbie.”

“wouldn’t happen under president barbie’s watch btw,” one “Barbie” fan tweeted.

And one person who would prefer to salute the pink flag of Barbie World added, “And yet Barbie had zero mistakes.”