Christopher Nolan's first partnership with Warner Bros. was 2002's Insomnia, though it was collaborating with the studio on his Dark Knight trilogy, starting with Batman Begins in 2005, that helped launched the filmmaker's career and a successful partnership with the studio, yet that partnership is reportedly ending due to the studio's decision to release all of their 2021 movies on HBO Max on the same day they hit theaters. With the entire movie industry in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic, both in their production and distribution, there's a lot of uncertainty about Hollywood's future, but losing Nolan would surely be disappointing for Warner Bros.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, "After spending years as a top Warner Bros. director, Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed last year's Tenet, is unlikely to return to the studio with his next project, in part because he was disappointed with the studio's hybrid distribution strategy for 2021."
Both Nolan and Warner Bros. have been the source of much contention in the movie industry last year, but for opposing reasons.
As with all of his films, Tenet was slated to be one of the biggest releases of the year, though Nolan was so committed to the theatrical experience that it was only slightly pushed back from its initial release date, ultimately debuting fewer than two months after it was slated to debut. However, this premiere took place at a time when a majority of theaters were still closed, frustrating some audiences that they had difficulty finding screenings while other locations could access it.
The release of Tenet had somewhat conflicting reports, as some claimed that Nolan himself was the one who pushed for its release as to avoid facing further delays, despite a majority of theaters being closed, while other reports noted that Warner Bros. pushed for its release, in hopes that it would help revive theaters after being closed for months.
After the disappointing release strategy of Tenet, Warner Bros. surprised fans by announcing that Wonder Woman 1984, another one of the year's most-anticipated films, would debut on HBO Max the same day it would be in theaters, having already faced multiple delays. Following that announcement, the studio confirmed that its entire slate of 2021 films, including Dune and The Matrix 4, would follow suit.
While this news largely excited fans, knowing that they would be able to check out all of these films from the comfort of their homes, many filmmakers voiced their disappointment, explaining how their films were designed to be seen on the big screen and that this strategy would surely stifle box office numbers, potentially jeopardizing the future of those franchises. Additionally, a film's cast or crew will sometimes make deals with a studio for a smaller salary in exchange for a percentage of profits, so if those profits are jeopardized, then these are deals they didn't sign on for.
Given that the coronavirus pandemic is still impacting the industry, it's unknown what the future holds for the studio or the filmmaker.
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