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EXCLUSIVE: Christopher Nolan is readying his next film, and Deadline hears that like Dunkirk, it will focus on a seminal moment in World War II. This one is J. Robert Oppenheimer’s role in the development of the atom bomb during WWII. Here is a bombshell development: while none of Nolan’s recent movies had gone outside Warner Bros, I’m hearing that several of the major studios across town are reading the screenplay and speaking with Nolan and his reps.
This might be residue from the umbrage Nolan took when WarnerMedia declared its intention to go day and date with its entire 2021 movie slate, without forewarning talent, their reps or even the studio’s financing partners in the films. Nolan, among the superstar directors who are the most vociferous supporters of a good old fashioned theatrical release, was outspoken in his ire on WarnerMedia’s move. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Warner Bros is among the studios in the mix on this, but clearly it has lost pole position. Warner Bros followed Nolan’s directives in releasing his last film, Tenet, even though the film’s grosses suffered because the pandemic was still raging, and moviegoers weren’t ready to return to theaters en masse at that point. The film still grossed $363 million, the biggest global number since the pandemic erupted, outside F9, Godzilla Vs. Kong and Black Widow. Nolan and his wife/producing partner Emma Thomas did not have a formal deal at the studio, but like Clint Eastwood, they have been very loyal about making their films there. Those collaboration led to billions in box office receipts.
Details are a bit scant at the moment on casting, but I’m hearing talk that Cillian Murphy might be involved. He collaborated with Nolan on two of The Dark Knight films, Inception as well as Dunkirk, is in the mix. The project has the sweep of his last historical epic Dunkirk, looking at WWII from the development of the atomic bombs that ended the war with Japan. So there will clearly be many big star parts.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has landed the right to finance and distribute the next film that Christopher Nolan will direct based on his script about J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atom bomb. A theoretical physicist who became the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, Oppenheimer headed the research and development of the bomb that ended WWII, under what was covertly called the Manhattan Project. Nolan will produce the film alongside his wife and longtime producing partner Emma Thomas for their Syncopy Inc. banner.
Sources said that the film is now green lit to begin production in the first quarter of 2022. When Deadline broke the story a few days ago about this film being shopped, I’d heard Nolan’s longtime collaborator Cillian Murphy was in the mix for a key role. That might happen still, but I’m persuaded there are no definitive casting attachments at this point.
After a trek to the director's Hollywood Hills compound, Universal, Sony and Apple learned he wanted total creative control, at least a 100-day theatrical window, around a $100 million budget, equal marketing spend, 20 percent of first dollar gross, and a blackout period where the studio would not release another movie for three weeks before and after the feature.
The studio won a fierce bidding war for rights to the tentpole about atom bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer after Langley told The Information’s ‘Women In Tech, Media And Finance Summit’ Universal had courted the British filmmaker for years.
“Chris has a precedent set at Warner Bros in the 20 years he was making movies there and he was very clear with everybody he spoke to that that was something he was looking to do,” said the chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. ”Given that was a point of entry there we’re happy to accommodate it.”
Langley said she and NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell had been courting Nolan “over a number of years” and said the upcoming project was “an undeniable theatrical proposition”.
Deadline has been all over this project first announcing it as Nolan’s next film last month and also breaking the news of Universal Pictures landing the rights to film following a heated bidding war between almost every major suitor in town. Deadline also first mentioned that Murphy would have a key role in the project, which is now confirmed to be the man at the center of the story.
The IMAX-shot epic thriller thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it. Universal Pictures will distribute Oppenheimer theatrically worldwide and will release the film in North American.
Written and directed by Nolan, the film will also be produced by Emma Thomas and Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Nolan. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin who sadly passed away this week.
The film will begin production in early 2022 and will be shot on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film for the highest image quality and reunites Nolan with some of his leading collaborators, including Roven, director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, editor Jennifer Lame and composer Ludwig Göransson (Tenet, Black Panther, Creed).
EXCLUSIVE: In what would be the first major piece of casting since officially confirming Oppenheimer will be his next film, Christopher Nolan looks to have found Cillian Murphy a co-star to join him in what is believed to be an all-star ensemble. Sources tell Deadline that Emily Blunt is in talks to join Murphy in the Universal tentpole that Nolan will write and direct. Sources say she will play the wife of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Murphy), the scientist who ran the Manhattan Project that led to the invention of the atomic bomb. The film will bow on July 21, 2023, a slot typically saved for Nolan films in the past.