It’s been a year for unexpected breakups, ain’t it? Loves that should’ve lasted years, the ones in which we projected waaaaaaaaaaaay too much of our own stuff, they collapsed in a matter of days because life is messy and 2020 (and its younger brother, 2021) was simply too much for everyone. And sometimes, because people who should’ve known better made some really, really, really stupid decisions.
That’s the case with Warner Brothers and Christopher Nolan, which I would chalk to a case of a failure to communicate: The latter is too obstinate in his defense of the theatrical experience, while the former is a hot mess who just can’t seem to get it right, even though they did provide Nolan with a loving and nurturing home for close to two decades. The split has been acrimonious, even though this should’ve been a no-fault divorce.
Still, Nolan is (de facto) a free-agent, and he’s feeling himself and dating around town: Sources confirm that he has been shopping his new project to several studios, and Warner Bros. apparently will not have first-look privileges. The project is a biopic about the father of the A-Bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, with unconfirmed rumors that Cillian Murphy is in talks to play the lead. Cue weird, thirsty Tumblr posts with him doing the “I am become death” speech.
I always love a good, harmless bet. So allow me to break down the odds of every major studio in getting the ultimate catch, the last of the actual movie stars. Because trust me, Tenet would’ve doubled its actual box office grosses in an alternate reality with no Covid.
(Full disclosure: I know jack-all about betting. I am terrible at it, I don’t understand the most basic mechanics of gambling nor I am able to think strategically when playing card. I can’t even keep a straight face playing mafia for god’s sake! I actually think playing with money is a stupid, sinful idea and I have a better opinion of certain dictators than of hedge fund managers as a collective. The number thingies with the odds are completely pointless and I probably got the order wrong, feel free to ignore them).
Paramount Pictures: Some in film twitter have suggested this one, because they have also cultivated a strong relationship with another big fan of the theatrical experience. But, honeys, no, OK? No. Not a chance. They managed to get on board Interstellar back in the day, and got absolutely bested by Warner Bros. Paramount is the studio equivalent of that grandpa who keeps calling his grandkids if he can use Instagram on the internet. They haven’t had a terrible 2021, but that’s because they offloaded two risky gambles on Prime and A Quiet Place II. The only other things they have released were two big budget rip-offs and clout chasers. They’re just waiting to be bought by one of the streamers. Odds: 1,000,000,000/1.
Lionsgate Films: I mean, it’s not like they are doing poorly, but come on, I mean, it’s like CBS trying to launch a prestige drama: It’s not in their DNA, and that’s OK. They are Premium B, and proudly so. Odds: 2,500/6
Overlord Disney: It would make sense, they have the prestige, the resources, and they most certainly need something to convince the public that 20th Century Fox is still alive. But the whole mess with Scarlett Johansson pretty much kneecaps them from the get-go. Plus, Disney isn’t well known for cultivating idiosyncratic talent. Odds: 1,201/7
Universal: The other big player in terms of resources and respect for the theatrical window. After all, postponing Fast 9 did pay off, and streaming doesn’t seem to be their priority yet, because they can charge established streamers whatever they want for their IPs (and NBC’s). Crap, I don’t have anything snarky to say, they actually have a chance. Odds: 5/2
Sony: Yeah … they did roll out the carpet for Quentin Tarantino, but see the issue with Paramount above.
Did we run out of major studios already? F—king consolidation man. So, I guess it’s time to mention the streamers in passing:
Netflix: Please hear me out, OK? After all, they did strike a deal with Amblin, and if when you think about it, financing and promoting a film is a sunken cost for a streamer, so releasing it in theaters can only bring more money and OH MY GOD, THE LOOK ON YOUR FACES! He never going to work for them! That’s like Taylor Swift recording an album for Scooter Braun. Odds: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Prime: Too busy with their series.
Apple+: Apple has a problem with cash flow but in reverse: Like Pablo Escobar, their liquid assets are so large they don’t know what to do with them. So they can throw hundreds of millions of dollars just for a show about a bloody morning show. They could give Nolan anything he wants, they can actually buy him a studio, a theatrical distributor, they can buy him a cinema chain! But can they give him what he needs? Cue in my final argument:
Going Back to Warner Bros.: Come on guys. We need some stability in this world, something low-stakes that remains the same because they were meant for each other! Don’t you think Clint Eastwood hasn’t had his up and downs with WB? Don’t you think it’s only fair you give each other another chance? Everyone has the right to have a bad decade! Remember the 00s to early-2010s? Warner Bros ruled and they couldn’t have done it without Nolan! I’m not saying he should forgive them and take them back as if nothing happened, WB has to do some reparations, but in their defense, they have this really shitty boss who knows nothing about the industry. Relationships are hard and mending a fractured one is even harder. But not impossible. The burden is on Warner Bros. They need to win him back, and to start the rewooing, there is a tried and tested way Latino guys have rewooed their woos and shooed away their woes: Dedicating sappy love songs on the radio. And ff his movies have taught us anything, is that Nolan wears his emotions in his sleeve.
Update: Since this was published, Christopher Nolan has made his decision: Universal.
I compiled a wee little playlist for ya:
Make sure you finish on this one:
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