Christopher Nolan addresses a potential return to Warner Bros. after his feud with the studio and the Oppenheimer-Barbie counterprogramming. For most of his illustrious career, Nolan made movies with Warner Bros., including The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, and Dunkirk. However, after his public feud with the studio over its simultaneous release strategy on HBO Max during the pandemic, Nolan took his talents to Universal, where he made his latest film, Oppenheimer, and Warner Bros. responded by counterprogramming with Barbie.
Now, after Oppenheimer’s box office success, Nolan addressed a potential return to Warner Bros. in a new interview with Variety. The director says his feud with the studio is “water under the bridge.” Asked directly if he is open to working with Warner Bros. again, Nolan responded, “Oh yeah, absolutely,” and went on to praise Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and his movie chiefs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy. Read Nolan’s full comments below:
Nolan, who is one of the biggest advocates for the theatrical experience, was incensed with then-WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar’s decision to premiere their entire slate of movies day-and-date on HBO Max for 2021, a time when theaters were struggling to draw audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nolan’s Tenent wasn’t even affected by the decision, since it was released earlier in 2020, though the director still disapproved of the precedent it set. In response, he released a snarky statement slamming the studio:
When it came time to make Oppenheimer, Nolan temporarily cut ties with Warner Bros. and took his talents to Universal. They announced Oppenheimer would premiere on July 21 and in response, a spiteful Warner Bros. announced they would open their highly-anticipated Barbie movie on the same day in an attempt to cut into Nolan’s box office. However, the plan ended up failing in spectacular fashion and instead, it gave birth to the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon that energized audiences to see both diametrically opposed blockbusters as a double feature.
As expected, Barbie was a big box office hit that became the biggest movie of 2023 by making $1.4 billion. Surprisingly, Oppenheimer defied the odds as a three-hour historical biopic to become both the third-grossing movie of the year and of Nolan’s career. The director didn’t mind the competition and holds no grudges against Warner Bros. As Christopher Nolan looks to the future after Oppenheimer’s $948 million success, he is absolutely open to returning to his old studio.