The box office success of Oppenheimer signals a new era of global cinema that is less defined by franchises and stories shaped by intellectual property, according to the film’s director, Christopher Nolan.
Nolan, fresh off a leading 13 nominations at BAFTA, passed through the awards body’s new awards season podcast Countdown to the BAFTAs, where he shared his thesis on what Oppenheimer can tell us about the future of cinema. He was joined by his wife and producer Emma Thomas.
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“I think the success of Oppenheimer certainly points to a sort of post franchise, post intellectual property, landscape for movies — it’s kind of encouraging,” Nolan told the podcast, hosted by Alex Zane.
Oppenheimer, Nolan added, reminded “the studios that there is an appetite for something people haven’t seen before or an approach to things that people haven’t seen before.”
Oppenheimer to date has grossed $953M worldwide and along the way nabbed a leading 13 nominations from both the BAFTA Film Awards and the American Academy.
“Everybody has a tendency to talk down the movie business,” said on the pod. “For the whole time I’ve been working in movies, I felt the cultural establishment was always predicting the demise of movie theaters, and I now get asked that question: ‘what do I think about the health of the movie business?’ And I don’t really know how to respond. We just released a three hour R-rated film about quantum physics, and it made a billion dollars. Like what? Obviously, our view is that the audience is excited to see something new.”
Elsewhere during the podcast, Nolan discussed the process of taking his Oppenheimer script to studio heads across the town before landing at Universal, where the project was greenlit by Donna Langley. Oppenheimer was the first feature Nolan had made away from Warner Bros. in over a decade.
“It was the first time that we’d sort of gone out to a lot of different studios with a project in a while,” Nolan said. “It’s an exciting process. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to show people your script and see what they think. But we had a great response to it. A lot of people seemed interested in making it, and that was a great position to be in.”
Nolan concluded the pod by saying he hoped Oppenheimer gave filmmakers a new point of reference on how to navigate the film marketplace.
“Just as we were able to point to Avengers End Game as an unlikely running time for such an incredibly successful film. Something like Oppenheimer working gives other filmmakers a point of reference for how something can work in the marketplace that the studio can relate to,” he said.
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