Christopher Nolan Takes His Atom Bomb Movie to Universal, Ending Warner Bros. Relationship

    Christopher Nolan is heading to Universal Pictures for his next movie, ending his long-running relationship with Warner Bros. The acclaimed filmmaker is set to direct a new movie for Universal based on his script about J. Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist who headed the research and development of the atom bomb that ended World War II under an initiative called the Manhattan Project. Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas are producing under their Syncopy Inc. banner.

    News of Christopher Nolan shopping the project had recently been broken, but it was unclear at the time where it would land. There were also rumors that longtime Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy was involved for a key role, though that remains unconfirmed. As of now, there are no official casting attachments for Christopher Nolan’s Atom Bomb movie, but that information may soon be forthcoming now that the movie has been greenlit at Universal.

    This change in studios is significant, as it’s the first time in about two decades Nolan has made a movie outside of Warner Bros. Since the release of Insomnia in 2002 and up to last year’s Tenet, Nolan has made all of his movies under the Warner Bros. umbrella. The release of Tenet was reportedly rough for both sides and strained the relationship between the studio and Nolan. In December 2020, Nolan condemned HBO Max and the day-and-date releases Warner Bros. had been setting for its major movies.

    “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,” Nolan told THR. “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. 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.”

    Nolan’s clearly not a fan of seeing new movies releasing on HBO Max. The good news for movies getting released this way is that HBO Max viewership is reportedly held in just as high regard for Warner Bros. as the box office numbers. The reality is that many potential ticket buyers don’t feel safe enough to go to movie theaters right now but may sign up for HBO Max to check out certain movies. Dune director Denis Villeneuve would prefer viewers to watch the movie on the big screen, but he’s been assured that a sequel will happen as long as enough people are watching on HBO Max.

    Nolan’s last movie,Tenet, follows a secret agent who must manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future threatening the present-day world. Along with John David Washington in the lead, the movie stars Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. It was one of the highest-grossing movies of the year and won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, but the success wasn’t enough to salvage the relationship between Nolan and Warner Bros. This news comes to us from Deadline.

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