Universal Chief Talks Nolan’s Long Window

Universal Chief Talks Nolans Long Window
Warner Bros. Pictures

Recently Universal Pictures won the rights to “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s next film after the famed director departed his long-term home at Warner Bros. Pictures.

Nolan’s switch was believed to tie into the upset over WarnerMedia’s day-and-date in theaters and HBO Max strategy which it employed during the pandemic. Warners is moving to what’s becoming the new standard of a 45-day theatrical exclusivity approach in 2022.

The shift is interesting as Universal’s approach with theatrical releases post-pandemic differs to Warners in that their films can become available as PVOD releases in just 17 days if they underperform, or in 31 days (or more) if they hit a certain measure.

To snag Nolan’s film though they reportedly had to acquiesce to a rather extreme list of demands from Nolan, the big one being a 100-day exclusive theatrical release window for the film which will open on July 23rd, 2023.

Speaking at a recent media conference (via Deadline, Universal executive Donna Langley says the studio is perfectly okay with meeting those demands but other filmmakers should not expect the same treatment:

“Look, Chris has a precedent at Warner Bros. in the 20 years he was making movies there and he was very clear with, I think, everybody that he spoke with that that was something he was looking to do and so I think that (the lengthy exclusive theatrical window) was a sort of point of entry. We are happy to accommodate it.

I am obviously thrilled that they made the decision to come with Universal. It took conversations over a number of years actually with myself and with Jeff Shell when he was with us in the film group. He is a huge fan of Chris’ and he really put the time and the effort there.”

She then went on to say Universal is “training consumers to expect movies earlier” and backs that industry analysis points to shorter theatrical windows being the way to go forward and “just makes practical sense” as films score their prime theatrical revenue in the first 2-3 weeks.

On the other hand day-and-date releases, such as with “Halloween Kills” this coming Friday, will not be happening much:

“We have done a couple of day-and-date [releases], we are about to put ‘Halloween [Kills]’ onto the platform and in theaters at the same time. I don’t think we are going to do much stunting like that. I think it’s going to be more about us making originals for [Peacock] going forward.”

Universal has multiple awards contenders hitting in November including “Belfast,” “Licorice Pizza” and “House of Gucci”.

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