Details have emerged about Christopher Nolan’s new deal with Universal, and it sounds pretty sweet to us. Last week it was announced that Nolan was shopping his new movie, a film about ‘the father of the atomic bomb’ Robert Oppenheimer, around several different movie studios.
This came as something of a surprise considering the filmmaker’s fruitful relationship with Warner Bros, and there was speculation online that the HBO Max debacle had soured their partnership. It’s been reported that Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Apple all wanted the Oppenheimer movie, but it was Universal that triumphed.
How did Universal best these other studios? Well, it seems by saying “yes” to almost all of the Batman director’s demands. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal has given Nolan complete creative control over the production, 20% of first-dollar gross, and a so-called “blackout period” where the studio will not release another movie three weeks before or three weeks after his release.
That’s not all he’s getting in the deal. Universal has also agreed to bankroll his war movie, with a reported production budget of $100 million and an equal marketing spend. Perhaps the deal’s most notable aspect, though, is the length of the theatrical window. Most studios are currently experimenting with a reduced theatrical window to mitigate the impact Covid-19 has had on cinema-going audiences.
There’s some dispute between sources, but it’s been reported that Nolan has asked for a 100-day theatrical window. This was reportedly part of the deal Nolan enjoyed at Warners, but that was before the pandemic made the traditional 70-90 day theatrical exclusive window untenable.
Universal had previously agreed to a deal with AMC and Cinemark that allowed them to bring their movies to home entertainment after a 17-day theatrical window that expanded out to 31 days if the movie made at least $50 million in its opening weekend. According to Variety, Nolan’s new thriller movie will be exempt from this deal.
Variety has described the power that Nolan wields over his film’s distribution rights as “unprecedented”, although there’s some discussion online that other highly regarded filmmakers may enjoy similar deals.
There also seems to be some flexibility baked into the agreement with Variety reporting that Universal can release movies during the blackout period if they don’t directly compete with Nolan’s movie. So don’t worry, Secret Life of Pets fans Nolan’s not going to disrupt your viewing.