For the first time in almost 20 years, Christopher Nolan is making a movie with a studio other than Warner Bros.

Nolan has directed a couple pictures through the years that were co-financed and distributed by multiple studios, like The Prestige. But Warners has always been involved somehow, at least since Nolan’s first Hollywood movie, 2002’s Insomnia. That will change with Nolan’s next picture.

According to Deadline, Universal Pictures has won the right to finance and distribute Nolan’s next film, which will be a historical drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the famous 20th century physicist who became one of the key creators of the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project. Deadline’s initial report about the bidding war for the project mentioned that Cillian Murphy, a mainstay of Nolan’s movies since Batman Begins, was going to be involved. Their latest update claims “that might happen still, but I’m persuaded there are no definitive casting attachments at this point.”

Nolan’s relationship with Warner Bros. took a hit following the company’s decision to release all of their 2021 movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. They announced the move shortly after they released Nolan’s previous film, Tenet, exclusively in theaters last September, where the movie performed below expectations. When Warners suddenly revealed their HBO Max initiative, severe condemnation followed from some in the movie industry — with some of the harshest words from Nolan himself, who stated on the record “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.”

The “worst” streaming service currently offers seven Christopher Nolan films, including Tenet. But it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t have Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie any time soon. According to Deadline, the film is expected to begin production in the first quarter of 2022.

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