After nearly 20 years at Warner Bros, filmmaker Christopher Nolan is potentially leaving the studio as his new project is being talked about by multiple studios.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project will centre on J. Robert Oppenheimer. The scientist is known as “one of the fathers of the atom bomb”, being part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.
However, as stated above, this project isn’t being automatically set up at WB. The studio has been his home since 2002, and the only times he wasn’t exclusively there was for The Prestige in 2006 with Disney and then Warner worked with Paramount for the 2014 film Interstellar.
Universal and Sony are at the top of the list of these studio discussions, but the Nolan camp are also talking to Paramount and Warner. Oddly enough not Disney, but I couldn’t see working with the Mouse House compared to the others.
I always felt if the filmmaker left WB. Paramount should be the first to get on the phone to form a deal as they would give him free rein and being a huge supporter of film history; Paramount Pictures are the ones to match Warner Brothers legacy and could be a great partnership.
However, with the boost of money, I think Universal would be the perfect home for the Briton and his projects.
It must be stressed that no offers have been made, and a theatrical release is a must. Still, this requirement shouldn’t stop streamers completely as Netflix has granted theatrical release for certain filmmakers, and I could see them move heaven and earth to get a name of Nolan’s standing.
It’s incredible we’re even talking about Nolan looking elsewhere as he and WB have been side-by-side for almost two decades as, while never signing a first-look deal, the director has been very loyal.
However, things hit a rocky patch in 2020 during the pandemic last summer when Tenet was released. Nolan wanted to be the catalyst to kickstart audiences returning to cinemas, but that never happened in the US grossing only $58.4 million. This began raising tensions between the director and studio executives.
Those tensions only grew when Nolan blasted the studio for their day-and-date release schedule during 2021, with films opening both in cinemas and on their streaming service HBO Max at the same time.
If I was Discovery chief, and future head of Warner, David Zaslav, I’d be on the phone making commitments that things will change by the time he’ll be in charge.
As for the project itself, Deadline are stating long-time collaborator Cillian Murphy might be involved and more casting will be happening soon, probably once the studio situation is sorted out.