A new report from The Wall Street Journal (spotted by The Playlist) is claiming that Warner Bros. golden-child director Christopher Nolan is now “unlikely” to make future films at the studio due to their decision to embrace a new day-and-date release model that is meant to boost subscriptions to HBO Max on the backs of the film division and filmmakers. This wouldn’t be terribly surprising as Christopher Nolan has been vocal against this release model since it’s announcement caught most directors it affected off guard and almost led to a potential lawsuit from production partner Legendary Entertainment.
The filmmaker made his opinions widely known in various interviews including the following quote from The Hollywood Reporter.
NOLAN: “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. 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.”
Dune director Denis Villeneuve also made a similar plea to the studio in an op-ed at The Hollywood Reporter, suggesting the studio could be killing the Dune franchise.
This would be the first time in twenty years that Nolan had a movie that wasn’t made for Warner Bros. or distributed by them since 2001’s Memento. The filmmaker is one of the few people that can convince a studio to give him a blockbuster-level budget to make original films as seen with Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and last summer’s Tenet.
Here is a rundown of the global box office earnings of the Warner Bros. films made by Christopher Nolan over the years.
- INSOMNIA (2002) – $113.7 Million
- BATMAN BEGINS (2004) – $373.6 Million
- THE PRESTIGE (2006) – $109.6 Million
- THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) – $1 Billion
- INCEPTION (2010) – $836.8 Million
- THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) – $1.08 Billion
- INTERSTELLAR (2014) – $701.7 Million
- DUNKIRK (2017) – $526.9 Million
- TENET (2020) – $363.1 Million
If Nolan ultimately exits the studio this could be a huge loss for Warner Bros. and a sign of more creative fallout from WarnerMedia/AT&T’s new day-and-date model. The model sees WarnerMedia adding a bulk of their 2021 theatrical releases to their struggling streaming service HBO Max exclusively for a month at the same time the film is being released domestically in theaters, having HBO Max and theaters going head-to-head for audiences.
AT&T CEO John Stankey had previously alluded to The Washington Post in an interview, that this is likely going to be a release model they’ll be using beyond 2021 and the pandemic giving the impression they wouldn’t be turning back to regular release windows that gave theaters a proper amount of time to earn money.
STANKEY: “In March, we unleashed a new normal in society. That horse left the barn. I don’t think any of us are going to change that dynamic.”
Nolan could stick around at Warner Bros. if they change their minds on the release model or more likely he could easily find a home at another studio. I don’t think he’d have much trouble getting the same deal elsewhere given his track record.
SOURCE: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL