Christopher Nolan cashes in with huge payday for Oppenheimer

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Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Britain's Christopher Nolan poses with Oscars for best director and best picture for Oppenheimer. (AP PHOTO)
Britain's Christopher Nolan poses with Oscars for best director and best picture for Oppenheimer. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

In the Barbenheimer battle, Christopher Nolan didn’t just come out on top of the awards tally, he also won the payday battle.

The British director reportedly pocketed almost $US100 million for his work on Oppenheimer, a historical epic about the life of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his development of the nuclear bombs that would level Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

According to Variety, Nolan’s nine-figure package included his salary, award bonuses, back-end compensation (a share of profits in lieu of higher upfront payments) and box-office escalators (payments triggered when the film hits certain financial milestones).

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Before Oppenheimer, Nolan was already one of the highest-paid directors in the industry. He is one of the few filmmakers and stars to command “first dollar gross” deals, which means he makes a percentage of the movie’s box office before the studio recovers the cost of production and marketing.

Margot Robbie was reportedly paid an estimated $US50 million for her work as a producer and an actor on Barbie. She was ranked by Forbes as the second highest-paid actor of 2023, behind Adam Sandler who was estimated to have made $US73 million for his projects that year.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Cillian Murphy in a scene from "Oppenheimer." (Universal Pictures via AP)
Oppenheimer won seven Oscars, including for Cillian Murphy as best actor. Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/AP

Barbie was the highest-grossing movie of 2023, earning $US1.44 billion at the global box office. Barbie is the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time in Australia, not adjusted for inflation, after it earnt $86 million in local tickets sales.

Oppenheimer’s global box office was $US958 million while in Australia, it made $41.8 million.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 02: Margot Robbie attends the Seoul Premiere of "Barbie" on July 02, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Margot Robbie reportedly made $US50 million for her work producing and performing in Barbie. Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Nolan this week won two Oscars for producing and directing Oppenheimer. The film was the big winner of the Academy Awards, taking home seven gongs in total, including for star Cillian Murphy in the best actor category, Robert Downey Jr in supporting actor, Ludwig Goransson in score, Hoyte van Hoytema in cinematography and Jennifer Lame in editing.

Barbie won for best song while Poor Things collected four Oscars including best actress for Emma Stone.

Nolan, who had previously made The Dark Knight, Inception and Dunkirk, has not confirmed his next project.

His compensation package puts him in the same league as Tom Cruise, who made $US100 million off the success of Top Gun: Maverick.


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