Though Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was only five years ago, his reputation as a horror filmmaking mastermind has grow exponentially since.
Since his Academy-Award-winning 2017 film Get Out and its riveting follow-up, 2019's Us, Peele's projects have been highly anticipated. Fans are awaiting his newest film, Nope, with palpable anticipation. Starring Daniel Kaluuya of Get Out, Nope will blow into theaters on July 22, shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
But what is Nope about? Here's what we think the film focuses on, based on its trailers, information released on characters, Peele's body of work, and more.
Nope is set to release precisely one year after the famed director’s first tweet about the project. The date, first revealed on the film’s poster, follow’s Peele’s pattern of releasing dates and information on the 22nd of the month. For instance, Us hit theaters on March 22nd.
Because Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions has signed a long-term deal with Universal Pictures, the film will be released with Universal and include scenes filmed with IMAX.
The cast of Nope is stacked with both familiar faces from Jordan Peele’s other work, and new rising stars in Hollywood. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer star as brother-sister pair OJ and Emerald Haywood, respectively.
Kaluuya was previously nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Chris Washington in Peele's Get Out. Palmer was a more surprising casting choice, since her filmography is concentrated mostly on comedic ventures. However, her connection to Peele goes back to her 2013 involvement in Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key's sketch show Key & Peele. Palmer did also star in Scream Queens, a horror-comedy TV series.
The rest of the cast is also stacked with noteworthy actors. Steven Yeun, who plays a leading character in Nope, garnered an Academy Award nomination for his work in 2020's Minari. He's also a horror veteran, having previously starred on The Walking Dead.
Brandon Perea of The OA, Barbie Ferreira of Euphoria, and Michael Wincott of Westworld also play significant roles.
What we know from the trailers
The first trailer, released during the 2022 Superbowl, gave little information about the film’s plot. It invoked imagery from other classic supernatural thrillers as it showed Palmer and Kaluuya’s characters gazing up at the sky to witness an implied UFO.
The June trailer
The second trailer, a three-minute look released on June 9th, gives a more complete outline of the film’s story.
OJ (Kaluuya) and Emerald (Palmer) live on a ranch and train horses for Hollywood films. The sibling duo work with a washed-up documentarian (Michael Wincott) and an electronics store employee (Brandon Perea) to try and capture profitable footage of a UFO that hovers above their ranch. In the process, they encounter the sinister behavior-altering powers of the vessel.
In the trailer, a dark cloud washes over their town and swirling torrents of wind seem to lift people into the air, twisting them into seemingly-deadly tornados.
Speculation on the plot
Peele has referred to his films as “social thrillers." He's also stated to Entertainment Weekly that the title of his latest project "speaks to the idea of being in tune with what the audience is thinking and feeling in the theater. I know a lot of people who say, when it's a scary movie, they say, 'Nope!' Especially Black audiences, right? We love horror but there's a skepticism."
The film’s plot was not entirely clear from the first trailer. However, many speculated that the title could to be an acronym for ‘Not of Planet Earth.'
The second trailer makes it relatively clear that the movie will focus on an UFO, but it's unclear if the film will include the appearance of aliens themselves. It seems the human characters will be interacting with the UFO directly, as is implied in a scene where the documentarian comments that the siblings have angered the UFO. We then see red rain, possibly blood, falling onto the Haywood's ranch home.
It's clear that the film will focus closely on interpersonal relationships, especially between the sibling protagonists. The trailers hint that the characters will suffer near-death experiences, witness destruction at an unbelievable scale, and risk their lives both to protect their hometown and get the footage they seek.
The teasing trailers have yet to provide any concrete plot overview, leaving audiences with genuine suspense as they walk into theaters next month.
It's not clear yet how this film will fit into the Peele's social thriller catalog, but there are plenty of dynamics at play in the trailer. Based off what we know so far, it's possible the movie will tackle themes like ambition, collateral damage, self-interest, and community,
It's unclear from the trailers how Steven Yeun's character, Ricky "Jupe" Park, will fit into the dynamics with the sibling protagonists. In these teasers, Jupe never interacts with any of the other named characters in the film. While this may not be the case in the full movie, it raises questions of whether there will be concurrent plots that conceptually connect but do not intersect onscreen.
With Peele’s reputation singlehandedly spurning incredible interest in his projects, this film is highly-anticipated in terms of both box-office performance and award nominations. Nope will also break from a recent pattern of releasing new films both in theaters and on a streaming service, as it's set for a theaters-only release.
With Peele’s other work in mind, it is highly unlikely that Nope will disappoint. To see for yourself, go see Nope in your local movie theater on July 22.