As we’ve reported previously, Christopher Nolan’s angry response to the bold new Warner Bros. release slate has threatened his longstanding relationship with the studio. Its plan to put out a good portion of its slate on HBO Max the same day as it opens in theaters was met with negativity from Nolan and others, and now, in an interview with The LA Times, Warner Bros. Chairman Toby Emmerich suggests that “Only Chris Nolan knows what his next movie’s going to be, but we do hope it will be at Warner Bros…The initial reaction of the town, we get it. But I think we’re in a better place now. Hopefully we’ve restored trust.”
It looks like what Warner Bros. has tried has indeed paid off to a degree, as, per executives, Godzilla vs. Kong and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It have both “done better than expected at the box office and brought millions of subscribers to HBO Max.” Warner Bros. COO Carolyn Blackwood expressed that “I’m both happy and relieved, because it has ultimately played out almost exactly as we hoped it would. We’ve got filmmakers and talent who are now happy, we’ve got exhibitors that are happy, we’ve got audiences that are happy, and our partners at HBO Max are thrilled.”
The merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery may mean a change in the way it operates, but the current plan seems relatively simple. According to executives, “of the roughly 20 movies Warner Bros. makes annually in the coming years, 10 to 12 will be designated specifically for HBO Max. The other 10 to 12 will launch in theaters exclusively for at least 45 days before they’re available for home viewing.” What likely won’t please Nolan and other filmmakers is that they may not have input into which category their projects fall into, and won’t want to be subject to the studio’s whims that may not, in their opinion, give their visions the appropriate platforms.
Nolan has reason to consider maintaining his relationship with Warner Bros. since his entire filmography, aside from his first two films, has been put out by the studio. After Insomnia, Nolan made the well-received Dark Knight trilogy The Prestige, Interstellar, and Oscar Best Picture nominees Inception and Dunkirk. His most recent project was Tenet, which saw its release delayed multiple times and ultimately debuted last Labor Day exclusively in theaters.