Christopher Nolan's Next Project Will Tackle J. Robert Oppenheimer And The A-Bomb

Big news, Nolanites: Christopher Nolan is lining up his next film and now we know what it will be about. The director of "Memento" and "The Dark Knight" trilogy is shopping his latest script around Tinseltown, and in a move that should surprise no one, he's looking to movie studios outside his usual sandbox of Warner Bros.

Deadline reports that Nolan's next film will focus on "J. Robert Oppenheimer's role in the development of the atom bomb during WWII." There's no title yet that we know of, but World War II is familiar territory for Nolan. His second to last film, "Dunkirk," which earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Director, centered on Operation Dynamo, the miracle evacuation of British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France.

This new, as-yet-untitled film will see him recreating other pivotal moments in World War II, but it sounds like it will be more of an Oppenheimer biopic than a battle-intense war movie.

Outside the Warner Bros. Sandbox

Like "Dune" director Denis Villeneuve, Nolan is one of the high-profile filmmakers who was blindsided by the decision on the part of Warner Bros. to release all of its movies simultaneously this year in theaters and on HBO Max. As Deadline observes, this game-changing industry move came with no forewarning for Nolan, other "talent, their reps, or even the studio's financing partners in the films."

Nolan was highly critical of the move, saying:

"Some of our industry's biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service."

In the past, Warner Bros. had been a studio that was good about cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with directors like Nolan and Clint Eastwood. They did release "Tenet" in theaters amid the pandemic, leading to a surreal situation where moviegoers in face masks were watching movie characters in gas masks and oxygen masks. Now, Nolan is exploring his options outside the studio that has distributed most of his films to this point.

Speaking as an unabashed Nolanite, his films are never short on spectacle, but they can sometimes be a bit convoluted, plot-wise, like puzzle boxes that he wants the viewer to solve. We recently revisited the ending of "Interstellar," for instance, one of Nolan's more divisive films.

"Dunkirk" saw him taking a more scaled-back, minimalist approach with much less dialogue, fewer snaking plot twists, and a script that was originally only 76 pages long. After the time inversion of "Tenet," it might be good to see Nolan tackle something more straightforward again with this Oppenheimer-focused World War II film.