A Fair Price To Pay: Christopher Nolan’s Universal Deal

We now know that Christopher Nolan will be making his new movie with Universal Pictures – his first away from Warner Bros. in almost 20 years. Written by Nolan, the film will focus on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who played a major role in the creation of atom bomb during World War II.

The terms of the deal between Nolan and Universal have now been revealed – and while the writer/director/producer drives a hard bargain, it’s not too steep for a man who has made almost $5 billion at the global box office over the course of his career. Sure, he has three Batman films in there – but Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk were anything but safe financial bets – and they all turned into box office gold. 

When Nolan met with the heads of the hollywood studios, he had a very particular set of things that he wanted to secure before he made his deal. There was $100 million budget for the film – with the same about spent on marketing. The studio can’t release another film in the three weeks prior to the opening of his film, or the three weeks following it. Once released, the film must spend 100 days on US screens – and Nolan also wanted final cut, total creative control and 20% of the first dollar gross. 

These are steep requests for sure – but nothing unreasonable as far as Hollywood goes. All things considered, $100 million is modest in the world of tentpole movies – and a $100 million marketing spend is inline with that. This is global marketing after all – junkets, premieres, adverting space et al isn’t come cheap.

Universal Pictures knows what it’s doing – the studio has read the script and I imagine Nolan isn’t making an esoteric art movie and there’s some commercial appeal and/or awards potential. After all, who imagined that Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk would have been such a success?