Christopher Nolan on ‘Interstellar’ and Preserving the Theatrical Experience

LAS VEGAS — Make no mistake, director Christopher Nolan appreciates the evolution of television as much as the next guy, but for him, it’s celluloid or bust.

His November release, “Interstellar,” which counts wormhole scientist Kip Thorne as one of its producers and stars Matthew McConaughey and Michael Caine, is still mostly under wraps.

At a CinemaCon lunch in his honor, Nolan said he’s focusing largely on tone, calling McConaughey’s character an “everyman” and describing the film as “using interstellar travel to go to other places you couldn’t reach beyond normal space travel.”

A huge proponent of IMAX, Nolan says he shot more of “Interstellar” on IMAX cameras than ever before but that he used spatial interiors and “real environments,” in effect shooting the film and the actor’s responses to action “like a documentary.”

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Although he’s all in favor of new technologies, he’s hesitant to adapt or use anything before it’s time tested – in a theater for certain and ideally in front of audiences.

New technology “has to cede what comes before that, and it hasn’t done that yet,” he said.

On the subject of 3D, Nolan praised Baz Luhrmann for “The Great Gatsby” but said that as far as the technology, “Just as stadium seating isn’t the best thing for a comedy, 3D isn’t the best for a shared audience.”

Well aware of his audience – a packed house of exhibitors – Nolan defended seeing films on the big screen and lobbied for more re-releases of films. He cited “Citizen Kane” and “The Odyssey” for their non-linear structure and advocated for shooting on 35 mm.

He ended speaking about the sound mix, promising theater owners and exhibitors a “unique approach” to sound mixing for “Interstellar,” looking to enhance and maximize current technologies, although he wouldn’t divulge how.


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  1. milo says:

    “stadium seating isn’t the best thing for a comedy” Really?

  2. Talbot says:

    Sadly, I have never seen a movie in Imax and probably never will, including this one. There is not a single Imax theatre in the country where I live, or the neighbor country for that matter. I really hate it when people on the net says “you should really see it in Imax”, like it is available for the whole world.

    • Goodguy says:

      I hope you have the chance someday, as it can certainly add some punch to a film experience.

      That said, the content of the movie is always going to be the most important, so there’s that!

      Also, thanks for the reminder that we take a lot of things for granted in my country.

  3. Passivist1 says:

    Did he really refer to “The Odyssey”, as opposed to the Stanley Kubrick film?

  4. Bill says:

    I love Nolan and his appreciation for theatrical presentation as something other than an obligatory pit stop before release to Home Video.

    The issue? Even if he believes in it, most theater owners do not with screen and sound quality coming in far distant to how to increase stale popcorn sales in their minds.

    (And why not? Most customers these days are perfectly happy with the presentation at the MallPlex 52 and wouldn’t drive even five minutes out of their way to see a film at a large/IMAX venue or even a high quality venue like an Arclight or Pacific Theater.)

  5. tommyflorida says:

    I agree to what I think Nolan is saying, when it comes to technology, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We’re infested with a oppressive use of CGI, clunky apps and related tech whiz bangs – from motion picture sound effects to the dizzying tech in a blender feel of smartphones. Hopefully “INTERSTELLAR” will rely on telling the story of man’s timeless wonderment of what’s beyond the Milky Way and not the latest digital wonderkind.

  6. Chelsea says:

    Can’t wait to see it in IMAX.

    • Cieran says:

      But, unfortunately, you probably won’t be seeing it in true IMAX as Nolan would wish – it’ll be the knock-off, digital LIEMAX – unless you’re one of a very select bunch who have a 15/70mm equipped venue nearby in which case I’m very envious.

      The only true IMAX in Scotland recently went digital and, as far as I know, the closest 15/70mm cinema to me now is in London (if not Sheffield or Manchester) so I’ll have to make do with regular multiplex, sadly.

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