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Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has a new film project and for the first time in over a decade, there is no studio behind it ready to act as distributor.
Multiple sources say that Nolan has a film project centered on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who is considered one of the fathers of the atom bomb that he helped develop during World War II.
However, as opposed to past projects, Nolan’s new movie isn’t being automatically set up at Warner Bros., the home of almost all his films since 2002. (His period thriller The Prestige, made for Disney in 2006, while 2014’s Interstellar was a partnership between Warners and Paramount, with the companies taking international and domestic distribution rights, respectively.)
Sources say that Nolan and his camp are talking to Sony and Universal, with conversations also taking place with Warners and Paramount. The talks are at the highest executive levels. Universal, Warners and Paramount had no comment while Sony could not be reached for comment.
No offers have been made and a theatrical release is of upmost importance.
Despite that requirement — Nolan is one of the filmmakers who has been a vocal proponent of the theatrical experience — one source said that streamers should not be counted out of the running. Netflix, for example, has been willing to grant theatrical runs to certain filmmakers.
While Nolan never had a first-look deal with Warners, he was very loyal to the studio. Things hit a decidedly rough patch in 2020 during the release of his last movie, Tenet. The movie saw its release push three times due to the raging pandemic before finally being released exclusively in theaters, with the filmmaker wanting to act as a catalyst for an audience return. That didn’t happen domestically, where the movie grossed only $58.4 million. Tensions flared between the filmmaker and executives during the many shifts and marketing phases.
Nolan also expressed dissatisfaction with the studio for moving its 2021 slate to a day-and-date theatrical and HBO Max streaming release, although his own movie was not part of that move.
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