On December 3, 2020, Warner Bros. announced a move that would forever change the history of streaming. Due to the pandemic, all his 2021 films would be released in a simultaneous in theaters and HBO Max. The decision, which had a ripple effect across the film industry, also impacted Warner’s relationship with some of its filmmakers. The most notorious case, of course, was that of Christopher Nolan.
Almost a year after that surprising news, the long-standing partnership between Christopher Nolan and Warner was completely scrapped. The week before we told you that the director was left with resentment over Tenet’s situation and, as unlikely as it may seem, began looking for a new partner for his next feature film. Not many days passed when Deadline released the bombshell news: Universal Pictures will be Nolan’s new home, thus winning the race to other interested parties such as Sony Pictures and Apple. How do we get to this extreme?
The tension, in fact, was born just a few days after Warner announced the simultaneous releases. Although Tenet was not included among the “affected” films, the new strategy hurt colleagues and created an atmosphere of mistrust for the future. In a statement collected by The Hollywood Reporter on December 7, 2020, Christopher Nolan did not save any negative comments against Warner. He hinted that the company used COVID-19 as an excuse to benefit HBO Max’s original content library in the short term.
“Some of the biggest filmmakers in our industry and the biggest movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the best movie studio and woke up to find they were working for the worst streaming serviceChristopher Nolan stated. In addition, he made it clear that he and other directors are working to provide the best possible movie experience, a gamble that Warner did not appreciate.
Christopher Nolan turns his back on Warner
His words were an omen of what was to come later, a break with no room for reconciliation. It didn’t take long for Christopher Nolan to find a new partner. After all, his films often attract the industry spotlight and are quite profitable at the box office. From what we know so far, your next project will go back to WWII; this time to deepen the participation of J. Robert Oppenheimer in the development of the atomic bomb. Production would start in March 2022.
According to information from The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan would have established a series of key conditions before signing the contract with Universal Pictures. First of all, his new movie had to be exclusive to theaters for at least 100 days. This, of course, avoids a simultaneous premiere on streaming platforms. He also demanded total creative control of the project.
In terms of numbers, it would have requested 100 million dollars for production and another 100 million for marketing, while its profit would be 20% of the income obtained during the opening day. Ultimately, no Universal Pictures movie could be released three weeks before or after Nolan’s. Yes, signing the British director is not cheap.
Only time will tell if Nolan, Warner and Universal made the right decisions. What is clear is that the production companies, perhaps, will think twice before making a resolution that involves their filmmakers and anyone else involved in the production. Denis Villeneuve himself, director of Dune – also of Warner -, expressed his discontent in relation to the strategy of the producer in HBO Max, although for now he has not threatened to break the association.
In the house across the street, on Disney Plus, there is no peace and harmony either. Scarlett Johansson sued the Mickey Mouse company for premiering Black Widow on said platform, a legal battle that is still underway. Streaming has undoubtedly become a lifesaver for many film companies, but also a headache for those who develop productions.