Universal boss explains how the studio landed Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’

Image via Universal Pictures

Based on the recent flurry of casting news, it looks as though every actor in Hollywood is gearing up to appear in Christopher Nolan’s next ambitious project, Oppenheimer, which stars Cillian Murphy as the titular and infamous father of the atomic bomb.

However, unlike the filmmaker’s extensive portfolio of universally-acclaimed box office toppers dating back two decades, his next flick has ditched longtime collaborator Warner Bros. in favor of a new distributor.

Universal will be handling Nolan’s next project, and in a recent chat with CNN at SXSW (via Deadline), company chairman Donna Langley explained how they convinced WB’s golden goose to jump ship after 20 years.

“He makes films that are undeniably theatrical; that’s part of our strategy. We really focus and strive to create an environment for filmmakers where they can do their best work and minimize the friction and noise, and complement their film with an excellent distribution and marketing campaign, and I think to the end that’s what Hollywood is looking for.”

Having once again explored the boundaries of spacetime through Tenet, Nolan is trying his hand at a more dramatic story through Oppenheimer, which takes him back to World War II, a setting that yielded huge critical and commercial success for Dunkirk.

Details about the plot are shrouded in mystery for now, but this could well turn out to be the director’s most ambitious undertaking yet, made clear by a star-studded cast that boasts dozens of high-profile actors, including Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Florence Pugh, Jack Quaid, and Alden Ehrenreich.

Nolan, who’s ever been a champion of the traditional cinemagoing experience in the wake of the streaming age, had a bit of a falling out with Warner Bros. in 2020 after the decision to release the studio’s entire slate of 2021 films on HBO Max concurrently with their theatrical premieres.

Now, the Inception director has embarked on a new chapter of his career with Universal, one that’ll no doubt bring many more exciting works of cinematic genius in the near future. The boardroom will be hoping that Oppenheimer will be the first of many Nolan projects to come when it lands in theaters on July 21, 2023.