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Turns Out Christopher Nolan Earned Tom Cruise-Level Figures After Oppenheimer’s Success. Not Bad For A 3-Hour Movie

With a good number of 2024 Oscar winners owing their success to Oppenheimer, the Christopher Nolan film’s award wins are a nice compliment to the staggering box office haul it brought in. At the time of this publication, roughly $958.8 has been raked in by the Cillian Murphy-led biographical drama, with the Universal film finally being released in Japan at the end of this month.
It’s a whirlwind story that’s made history, which also landed Nolan a Tom Cruise-level payout as a result. Considering it’s a three-hour, R-rated movie about the development of the atomic bomb we’re discussing here, that’s not bad at all. And as reported by Variety , that rousing cinematic win banked The Dark Knight helmer “just south of $100 million.”
This figure includes not only Christopher Nolan’s salary for making Oppenheimer, but also various bonuses that came from “backend compensation, box-office escalators and a bonus for his twin Academy Awards.” One has to wonder if the sum would have been a cool $100 million if the Best Adapted Screenplay nominee had won that third prize.
Regardless of that hypothetical, Nolan’s huge payout is a story that recalls Tom Cruise and Margot Robbie’s insane paydays of recent past. As the respective stars of Top Gun: Maverick and Barbie, both parties banked quite a bit of change themselves. Margot Robbie’s fantastic plastic paycheck came out to about $50 million, including her salary for the film; where as Cruise’s high flying bankroll came in with a $13 million base and $100 million in bonuses.
So what can we learn from the lessons that Oppenheimer has taught the world of filmmaking? Well, having a clear and unwavering vision certainly pays off, especially if you have the clout to nail down full creative control and a $100 million budget. But also, don’t underestimate the audience at any point in your negotiations.
What may look like a risky gamble could become the next meteoric hit that breaks the bank. That’s something that Tom Cruise and Margot Robbie could definitely attest to, as their own journeys to well deserved bonuses came with a fair share of detractors and true believers. In the end, history rewarded their faith and made sure that the titles Oppenheimer, Top Gun: Maverick and Barbie won’t be forgotten any time soon.
The Cinderella story that saw Christopher Nolan’s Warner Bros. breakup turn into Universal’s gain will more than likely embolden studios to continue seeking out stories similar to this one; in the hopes of replicating that success. But as anyone with a Peacock subscription or a 4K UHD copy of this movie will tell you, making a movie like Oppenheimer is not an easy feat.
Whomever treads the path that Mr. Nolan has now laid out certainly has their work cut out for them, and it’s only natural to wish them the best of luck. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go work on my screenplay adapting MCU: the Reign of Marvel Studios. It may not be the same exact idea, but someone has to try, right?



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