Warner Bros. is trying to bring back Christopher Nolan, following their split in 2021. Speaking to Variety, Warner Bros. Pictures co-CEO Michael De Luca said enthusiastically, “We're hoping to get Nolan back. I think there's a world.” Nolan's last film with WB was the time-bending espionage Tenet, which got a theatrical release right after the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, earning $363.7 million (about Rs. 2,990 crore). Sources familiar with the situation also claimed that Nolan received a seven-figure royalty cheque from the studio at some point within the last eight months — a ‘no strings attached' payment for his work on Tenet.
In late 2020, WB decided to release all its upcoming films simultaneously in theatres and HBO Max, as a means to enhance distribution to individuals who might not have access to theatres amidst the pandemic. While it was simply a one-year experimental move, Nolan wasn't happy about it, going as far as calling the novel streamer ‘the worst streaming service'. “Some of [Hollywood]'s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” Nolan said in an interview back then.
He further claimed that WarnerMedia's decision did not make economic sense and that it was essentially dismantling the ‘incredible' system they had in place for getting a filmmaker's work out. The director soon parted ways with Warner Bros., and decided to shop his upcoming biopic Oppenheimer to other studios, with Universal Pictures eventually picking it up. This marked the end of a nearly two-decade-long partnership Nolan maintained with WB.
Circling back to the seven-figure payment Nolan received, the report claims that the studio was ‘partly motivated' to repair the fractured relationship with him. That seems to have worked in their favour as well, as the report goes on to mention that Nolan did some post-production work on Oppenheimer at Warner Bros. As for whether this signifies a complete mending of their strained relationship remains to be seen.
For Oppenheimer, Nolan requested a 100-day theatrical window from Universal Pictures, to ensure his film does not end up on a streaming service immediately. In addition to total creative control, he demanded ‘20 percent of first-dollar gross' and a blackout period, where the studio would be barred from releasing any other film three weeks before or after his release. Starring Cillian Murphy in the lead as the renowned titular theoretical physicist, Oppenheimer also marks Nolan's first R-rated film in two decades — the last being Insomnia (2002) — for ‘some sexuality, nudity, and language.' The film explores the politics and drama surrounding the Manhattan Project during World War II, all the way up to the Trinity Test, which marked the first-ever nuclear explosion. No CGI was used to recreate the explosion.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer releases July 21, exclusively in theatres worldwide.
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