Christopher Nolan Exits Warner Bros. After Nearly Two Decades, New Film Set Up at Universal

Nolan's follow-up to "Tenet" will reportedly begin production in the first quarter of 2022.
Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
Melissa Moseley/©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

Christopher Nolan is officially leaving Warner Bros. after 19 years. Deadline confirms the director’s next movie, a biographical drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atom bomb, has landed at Universal Pictures. Since 2002’s “Insomnia” and through 2020’s “Tenet,” Nolan made all of his movies for Warner Bros. Nolan’s biggest films at Warner Bros. were his Batman films, with “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” both grossing over $1 billion worldwide for the studio.

According to Deadline: “Sources said that the film is now greenlit to begin production in the first quarter of 2022. When Deadline broke the story a few days ago about this film being shopped, I’d heard Nolan’s longtime collaborator Cillian Murphy was in the mix for a key role. That might happen still, but I’m persuaded there are no definitive casting attachments at this point.”

Many in the industry expected Nolan to leave Warner Bros. after he publicly condemned his longtime studio for pushing their entire 2021 film slate to a hybrid release model in which titles debut in theaters on the same day they become available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days.

In a late-2020 interview with ET Online, Nolan said he was in “disbelief” over Warners’ handling of new releases, adding, “There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy.”

As for Universal Pictures, the studio made headlines earlier this year when it signed a new theatrical window agreement with top chains such as Regal and AMC. Universal films that gross over $50 million on their opening weekend get an exclusive theatrical window of at least 31 days, while films that open under $50 get a 17-day window. Universal has already sidestepped this plan for films like “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and the upcoming “Halloween Kills,” both of which hit theaters on the same day they streamed on Peacock. Don’t expect the studio to pull a similar move with Nolan.

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