For the first time in two decades, Christopher Nolan will make a movie outside of Warner Bros. Only days ago we learned his next film would be on Atomic Bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer, and that he was exploring his studio options. Well now Deadline reports the project will be set up at Universal Pictures, and honestly, none of this should come as a surprise.
Nolan has made Warner Bros. his home since 2002’s Insomnia, forging a relationship that earned the studio billions and made him one of the biggest blockbuster filmmakers in the world. And while it seemed things would stay cool between them, the pandemic release of Tenet really hurt their relationship. The film opened in September 2020 and made $363M worldwide, which sounds great now but at the time it was a major disappointment. That followed Nolan’s public rebuke of Warner Media’s decision to release all of their 2021 slate in theaters and HBO Max, hurting the partnership even further.
There was always the chance Nolan and Warner Media could mend fences, with the understanding that his films would be exclusively theatrical. Either he didn’t trust them to make that deal, or they decided against it.
Of the legit options out there, only a couple made any sense. He wasn’t going to go to a streamer like Netflix or Apple, his devotion to the theatrical experience would prevent that. Paramount has spent the last couple of years basically getting away from major film releases, while Disney wouldn’t be worth the headache. That left only Sony, MGM, and Universal as the final three, and we know how it turned out. To their credit, Universal is the home of the gigantic Fast & Furious franchise, so they know how to do the IMAX-sized flicks that Nolan prefers.
As for the untitled film, it will star Cillian Murphy, a frequent Nolan collaborator who has appeared in Dunkirk, his Dark Knight trilogy, and Inception. Shooting is expected to being early next year, meaning a 2023 release is likely.