It’s been almost exactly one year since Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. released Tenet to movie theaters. It was the first major movie back at the multiplex since the start of the Covid pandemic. Nolan, a passionate defender of the theatrical viewing experience, wanted the movie shown on the big screen and the big screen only, and he got his wish.
The movie grossed $363 million worldwide, surely a fraction of what it would have made without the pandemic, and then Warner Bros. quickly pivoted to releasing all of its 2021 blockbusters to its HBO Max streaming service the same day they hit theaters. While some directors were outspoken in their disappointment with Warners’ decision, few were as vocal as Nolan. He responded to Warners’ announcement by publicly calling HBO Max “the worst streaming service.” Ouch. (The “worst” streaming service, by the way, currently has seven Nolan movies available for viewing, including Tenet.)
Now we’re seeing the fallout of all those moves. Deadline reports that Nolan has begun shopping his next project around Hollywood. Although Nolan doesn’t have a formal deal with Warner Bros., that’s where he’s made every one of his films since 2002’s Insomnia. This time, though, he’s reportedly talking to “several of the major studios across town.” Deadline’s sources weren’t even clear whether Warner Bros. was on the list of people he was talking to at all.
As for the subject matter, the film is apparently about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the famous scientist who was a key member of the Manhattan Project that created the world’s first atomic bomb. The only actor mentioned in Deadline’s report is Cillian Murphy, who “might be involved.”
This would Nolan’s second film set around World War II following 2017’s historical thriller Dunkirk. And whatever studio signs on to produce and distribute it, I’m going to guess they are going to have to promise Nolan an exclusively theatrical release before it goes to home video of any kind. Just a hunch!