After Tenet And HBO Max Issues, Looks Like Christopher Nolan And Warner Bros. Are Breaking Up

Warner Bros and Christopher Nolan have been a hot Hollywood item for nearly two decades now, as all of the filmmaker’s movies since Insomnia have been distributed by the studio. However, 2020 marked some notable turmoil in this professional relationship, as not only did the COVID-19 pandemic result in Tenet’s release being shaken up, but Nolan was displeased by WB’s decision to release all its 2021 movies on HBO Max at the same time they premiered in theaters. Well, as we’re still early in 2021, word’s come in that Nolan and WB are calling it quits.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Christopher Nolan is “unlikely” to work with Warner Bros again following WarnerMedia implementing this day-and-date release plan. Publicly, it hadn’t been announced yet if Nolan had a post-Tenet project in the works at the studio, but considering how important the director has been to WB over the years, with most of his movies being critical and/or commercial powerhouses, it goes without saying that him leaving would be a huge blow.

Going into 2020, it looked like Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros were on firm ground, with Tenet, his first movie since 2017’s Dunkirk, slated for a July 2020 release. Of course, like so many entertainment projects, Tenet found itself being affected by the health crisis and pushed back several times, before finally settling on an August 26 international release, followed by coming out in select U.S. cities on September 3, with a wider domestic rollout following. Nolan, a big fan of the theatrical experience, was adamant that Tenet not be sent to VOD, but with so many movie theaters still closed down during its big screen run, needless to say the movie’s commercial performance wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been during the Before Times.

Then came December 2020, where things got really heated between Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. After WarnerMedia announced that WB’s 2021 movies would be available on HBO Max for a one-month period starting the same day each respective movie premiered in theaters, Nolan not only expressed disappointment that WB did not inform its filmmakers ahead of time about this release plan, but also simply criticized the plan in general, saying it was a poor economic move. He even went so far as to call HBO Max “the worst streaming service.”

Taking all this into account, it’s understandable why Christopher Nolan is reportedly cutting ties with Warner Bros. Assuming he does indeed decide to set up shop elsewhere, this is arguably the biggest filmmaker/distributor breakup since Quentin Tarantino ended his relationship with Harvey and Bob Weinstein and moved his latest movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, to Sony Pictures Releasing, as all his movies up to that point had involved either Miramax or The Weinstein Company. Obviously that breakup was due to significantly different circumstances, but in any case, Nolan and WB have gone together like peanut butter and chocolate for so long, and it’ll be weird not having that flavor combination anymore.

If/when it’s confirmed that Christopher Nolan is stepping away from Warner Bros, we’ll be sure to let you know. For now, you’re welcome to watch Tenet on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, DVD or on digital platforms, and feel free to scan through our 2021 release schedule to discover what movies are arriving later this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.