Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. are reportedly not working together anymore. For nearly 2 decades, Christopher Nolan and the studio have churned out some major hits. However, it appears that their relationship is coming to an end after a tumultuous 2020. Nolan's Tenet was supposed to open in theaters in July, but the public health crisis caused some delays, which the director and studio tried to avoid. Nolan wanted the movie to be the one that got people back into theaters after the pandemic.
It's now January 2021 and the pandemic is still in full swing and movie theaters in North America are largely still closed. To combat this, Warner Bros. surprised everybody, including their partners when they announced their hybrid release strategy for 2021. They decided to make all of their upcoming movies available in theaters and HBO Max on the same day, which did not sit well with a number of filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. won't be working on any further projects down the road. "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." The hybrid distribution strategy may work for some projects, but directors like Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, craft movies to be experiences within a movie theater with an audience for the shared experience. That doesn't necessarily translate well for the HBO Max watchers at home. As of this writing, neither the director, nor the studio, have commented on a possible separation.
Back in December 2020, Christopher Nolan publicly called HBO Max the "worst streaming service" on the market. He went on to say, "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." Nolan was definitely not excited by the idea of his movies going straight to HBO Max, or the studio using his name and art to promote a streaming service without his permission. Nolan was also not the only one complaining about the studio.
Dune director Denis Villeneuve also spoke out against the Warner Bros. hybrid release strategy. Legendary, who finance Dune has threatened legal action, though they may be close to a deal with Villeneuve's upcoming movie after making a deal for Godzilla vs. Kong. As for what this will mean for Warner Bros. going forward, that is unclear, but it seems that Christopher Nolan will be taking his future projects elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal was the first to announce that Nolan and Warner Bros. may have broken up.