Christopher Nolan is unlikely to make his next movie at Warner Bros., following his criticism of the studio’s controversial HBO Max decision.
Christopher Nolan is unlikely to make his next film at Warner Bros. The director and studio have had a long partnership that dates back nearly two decades; WB has handled domestic or international distribution on all of Nolan’s movies since 2002’s Insomnia. The fruitful relationship has seen a number of successful projects, including all three installments of the Dark Knight trilogy and non-franchise hits like Inception, Interstellar, and Dunkirk. Nolan’s latest effort, Tenet, was initially slated to be WB’s major summer tentpole in 2020 – before its release was disrupted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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Tenet ultimately premiered exclusively in theaters last September, looking to give exhibitors a much-needed boost in business. Unfortunately, Tenet struggled at the box office, grossing only $57.9 million domestically ($363.1 million worldwide). That underwhelming performance illustrated the risks of releasing expensive movies only in theaters during the pandemic, and helped influence WB’s decision to release their entire 2021 slate on HBO Max the same day as theaters. Nolan, who has long been a champion of the theatrical experience, was very critical of WB’s move. And now, it seems like he isn’t working with the studio any more.
A new report in The Wall Street Journal indicates Nolan will look elsewhere when he’s lining up his next film, primarily due to his feelings about the HBO Max strategy. You can read the relevant excerpt in the space below:
After spending years as a top Warner Bros. director, Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed last year’s “Tenet,” is unlikely to return to the studio with his next project, in part because he was disappointed with the studio’s hybrid distribution strategy for 2021, according to people familiar with the matter.
WB has previously said their controversial plan is for this year only, but it looks like the damage has been done in Nolan’s case. It isn’t entirely surprising to see him go to a different studio for his next movie, considering his pointed remarks about HBO Max (he previously called it “the worst streaming service”). It’s worth mentioning Nolan isn’t the only WB talent upset by the studio’s drastic move. James Gunn is reportedly unhappy about The Suicide Squad going to HBO Max, primarily because of what was called a lackluster compensation offer. Dune director Denis Villeneuve also blasted the decision, accusing WB parent company AT&T of having “no love for cinema.” With other studios’ blockbusters poised to be delayed again, an argument can be made WB was ahead of the curve moving their full slate to streaming. However, they now have to repair relationships and it’ll be interesting to see if other directors follow Nolan’s lead.
As for Nolan, he likely will not find much trouble finding a distributor for his next movie. He’s long been established as one of the few directors in the industry who can draw audiences with just his name. Tenet’s box office haul shouldn’t count against him given the circumstances of its release. Studios will probably be eager to work with Nolan, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a heated bidding war take place. From the sound of things, a commitment to a traditional theatrical release is a prerequisite for Nolan to do business with a studio, but that ideally won’t be an issue by the time his next movie is ready to come out. Nolan works very deliberately, taking time between projects. His next film realistically won’t debut until a few years from now, when theaters are hopefully safe again and the pandemic is in the past.
Next: Christopher Nolan’s Future Explained: Will He Leave Warner Bros.?
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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