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Explained: Why Christopher Nolan's next film isn't backed by Warner Bros

·3 min read

After a public fallout over release strategy with Warner Bros, Christopher Nolan's next film, about J Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atom bomb, will be released by Universal Pictures.

Representatives for the studio confirmed Tuesday that Universal has acquired the rights to finance and distribute Nolan's not-yet-titled film. Deadline first reported the deal. Nolan also wrote the script of the film about the theoretical physicist. Production is expected to begin early next year.

Warner Bros and Christopher Nolan go way back

  • With only a handful of exceptions, Warner Bros had long been home to Nolan, going back to Insomnia in 2002.

  • With the studio, Nolan made The Dark Knight trilogy (2005, 2008, and 2013), the mind-bending Inception (2010), the Oscar Best Picture nominee Dunkirk (2017),and the time-traveling Tenet (2020).

  • Warner Bros also handled international distribution of The Prestige (2006) and Interstellar (2014).

Fallout of Nolan with Warner Bros over pandemic release plan

  • Last year, Warner Bros launched Tenet in theaters in September at a time when much of the film industry was timid about releasing big-budget movies.

  • The sci-fi thriller ultimately grossed $363.7 million, making it easily the biggest Hollywood pandemic release of the year.

  • But when Warner Bros in December announced plans to release all of its 2021 films simultaneously on HBO Max, Nolan €" long an ardent advocate for the theatrical experience €" was one of the studio's harshest critics.

What did Nolan have to say about Warner Bros' release plan?

  • In a statement, he said "some of our industry'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."

  • "Warner Bros had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker's work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak," wrote Nolan.

  • "They don't even understand what they're losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction."

  • Shortly thereafter, he called the studio's plans "a mess."

  • "It's a unilateral decision that the studio took. They didn't even tell the people involved," Nolan said.

  • "You have these great filmmakers who worked with passion and diligence for years on projects that are intended to be feature films with fantastic movie stars. And they've all now been told that they're a loss-leader for a fledgling streaming service."

Executives for Warner Bros have maintained that the studio will return to releasing movies exclusively in theaters next year.

What is Nolan's new movie about?

  • The subject is American theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, who helped develop the atomic bomb during World War II.

  • According to Deadline, the plot details are sketchy but the new movie will focus on Oppenheimer, who is considered one of the fathers of the atom bomb.

  • He was a pivotal figure in the Manhattan Project €" the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons.

  • Cillian Murphy, one of Nolan''s frequent collaborators, is said to be a possible member of the ensemble, but casting has yet to take place.

  • Filming on the Oppenheimer picture is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.

  • The project will be produced by Nolan alongside his wife and longtime producing partner Emma Thomas for their Syncopy Inc banner.

With inputs from agencies.

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