Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas to Receive NATO Award at CinemaCon

The director-producer duo will receive trade org’s Spirit of the Industry Award from outgoing CEO John Fithian

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas

The National Association of Theater Owners announced on Thursday that “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan and his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas will be honored with the trade organization’s Spirit of the Industry Award on April 27 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

The award will be presented by NATO’s outgoing president and CEO John Fithian in his final official act in the position before his retirement.

“I am deeply honored to present the Spirit of the Industry Award to our good friends Chris and Emma as my last official act as President of NATO,” Fithian said in a statement. “No one has done more to advance the theatrical experience than these two champions of cinema.”

Since becoming a breakout Hollywood director with his second film “Memento” in 2000, Nolan has become one of the most outspoken defenders of movie theaters in the film industry. Together, Nolan and Thomas founded the production company Syncopy in 2005, and their 11 films — which include the “Dark Knight” trilogy, “Inception” and “Dunkirk” — have grossed over $5 billion at the global box office.

Nolan and Thomas’ films have also won 11 Oscars from 36 nominations, including a pair of Best Picture noms for “Inception” and “Dunkirk.” Nolan’s films have also been released in a variety of formats, including 35mm and 70mm print stock as well as digital and Imax formats.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020 as movie theaters were shut down worldwide, Nolan pushed Warner Bros. for his most recent film “Tenet,” to be released in theaters in an effort to lessen the financial strain placed on cinemas. Released during a subsiding of COVID-19 infections in Europe, “Tenet” grossed $58.5 million in the U.S. and $365 million worldwide.

Nolan also became an outspoken critic of the day-and-date model used by Warner Bros. in 2021, as the studio released all of its films that year simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max amidst uncertainty as to how the box office would recover as theaters reopened. Warner Bros. made good on its promise when the day-and-date model was announced to return to theatrical exclusivity in 2022, while Fithian declared at last year’s CinemaCon that day-and-date was “dead as a serious business model.

This summer, Nolan and Thomas’s 12th film, “Oppenheimer,” will be released by Universal Pictures. The film stars Cillian Murphy as Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who oversaw the invention of the atomic bomb as the head of the Manhattan Project. Filmed with Imax cameras, the movie will be released on July 21.