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"Tenet" and "Memento" director Christopher Nolan met secretly with Apple TV+ and others, before accepting Universal's bid for his next project.
When Christopher Nolan's long-time studio partner Warners released its movies on HBO Max, the director said it was "the greatest movie studio" choosing "the worst streaming service." More than objecting to the deal, Nolan broke away from Warners and had a secret meeting with Apple TV+, Paramount, Sony, and Universal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, unnamed "highest executives" from Apple and the others, met at Nolan's own editing and post-production facility. They then got to read Nolan's next screenplay, a film about atom bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Then reportedly the dealmaking began, except the trade publication says it was not a negotiation. Instead, Nolan had specific, immovable requirements and they were sufficient that Paramount pulled out early.
Those conditions included Nolan having total creative control, and 20% of the gross income from the film. The budget is said to be $100 million and Nolan required an equal amount to be spent on marketing.
Plus Nolan insisted on what's called a blackout period. Whichever studio or service he went with, would have to commit to not releasing another movie closer than three weeks before, or three weeks after, his came out.
This is apparently where Apple quit. Although the company was willing to commit to a theatrical window, a period where it only showed the film in theaters, it wasn't willing to give Nolan the length of window he insisted.
Sony and Universal stayed in contention until the end, but eventually it was Universal that prevailed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, this secret meeting was ultimately not about buying one movie. It was a rare chance to start a relationship with a writer/director who has previously provided critically acclaimed and highly successful films.