Last Tuesday, several news outlets reported that Christopher Nolan, director of many hit films including Inception and Interstellar, was breaking ties with Warner Bros. Studios after working together for 19 years.
While it’s been reported that Christopher Nolan was looking to end his relationship with Warner Bros. since early 2021, this marks the first time that the rumor was actually confirmed.
Due largely in part to the company’s decision to release their movies on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters, Nolan decided that his needs would be best met by another studio.
This, however, was not the only factor in his decision to leave. In an interview with ETOnline, Nolan mentioned that Warner Bros. failed to communicate with anyone that they were going to be releasing all of their 2021 movies online. He viewed this as disrespectful to not only the filmmakers but the actors and crew as well, leaving his relationship with the studio irrevocably strained.
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His new movie will reportedly be set during World War II and focus on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American physicist crucial to the development of the atomic bomb.
Nolan’s agreement with Universal comes with a handful of stipulations for his new movie that other companies such as Paramount and Sony could not meet, including an $100 million budget, a theatrical run of at least 100 days and 20% of first-dollar gross.
This move leaves Warner Bros. without their wonder-boy filmmaker. Historically a director-driven film studio, meaning they facilitate positive relationships with filmmakers and give them freedom other studios might not, their decision to give directors less control has resulted in a change of ideologies that many directors fail to agree with.
Likely the biggest name to leave Warner Bros. in the past few years, Nolan is hardly the first. Directors such as Ben Affleck and Zack Snyder have also departed from the studio for similar reasons, further tarnishing Warner Bros.’s reputation as director-driven.
With Christopher Nolan movies regularly making hundreds of millions of dollars, Warner Bros. is going to miss out on a massive source of revenue for the studio. They are hoping that their decision to pour more resources into the streaming side of their company will pay off, but this is certainly going to be a hard hit for the studio.