CinemaCon 2014: Christopher Nolan expresses love for 35mm, disdain for 3-D


LAS VEGAS -- Nearly all of Hollywood has come aboard the digital bandwagon, but at least one influential filmmaker still isn’t sold on the new format.

At CinemaCon on Wednesday, Christopher Nolan said he still feels film is the “best way” to capture and project an image -- even at a time when virtually all theaters have converted to showing movies digitally.

“I’m a fan of any technological innovation, but for me, it’s going to have to exceed what came before -- and it hasn’t yet,” Nolan told a crowd of exhibitors at the annual industry conference.


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As the Times reported earlier this year, Paramount Pictures became the first studio to announce that it would no longer release any of its major titles on film -- with some notable exceptions, including Nolan’s “Interstellar.” The space film, which has been shrouded in secrecy for months, is set for release in November.

Nolan also didn’t budge on his stance about 3-D, which he isn’t a fan of. The format, he said, “gives a much more individual feeling for a screening.”

“It’s not the best thing if you’re looking at a shared audience experience,” he said. He did say he admired Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D film “The Great Gatsby,” saying the 2013 release put him in a different space and created “an atmosphere that washed around you.”

But Nolan has always been one to do things his own way. Many of his movies -- such as “Memento” and “Inception” -- don’t follow a linear structure. He’s also famously secretive about his projects. During his discussion with Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy on Wednesday, he gave little away about “Interstellar,” which he is currently editing the first cut of.

The movie stars Matthew McConaughey, though Nolan wouldn’t reveal who the recent Academy Award winner plays in the movie.


“The character he’s playing -- I needed somebody who was very much an everyman,” Nolan said of his leading man. “You needed to be right there alongside him, viewing the extraordinary events of the film through his eyes.”

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Though he would not give any real plot description, Nolan said his upcoming movie is about “interstellar travel” and explores using wormhole travel to visit places one couldn’t reach through space.

“I grew up in an era ... when something being a family film didn’t have any pejorative connotation,” he said. “I feel like that’s something I want to explore in terms of the tone of the film. It looks at where we are as people and where we might go and has a universality of experience.”

Nolan did say that some of the movie takes place in a spaceship, so to make sure McConaughey and the rest of the cast has a realistic experience the filmmaker “wanted to have the real environments that the actors would be seeing out the window.”

“We shot it like a documentary,” he said. “I think it paid huge dividends for actors.... Though it put a huge burden on our visual effects guys to be well ahead.”


Asked if he thinks moviegoers ever find his nonlinear story lines too complex, Nolan demurred. He said his interest in less traditional narrative structure began when he was a teenager and was flooded with linear films made for television and home video. His movies, he hopes, hearken back to the time of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” when “the audience was yours. They came, they paid their money and sat in the theater.”

“Your sense of time over 2 hours is very variable and elastic,” he said. “As far as audiences accepting it ... the non-chronological setup hasn’t proven to be a barrier to that, just as it isn’t in the novels people read.”


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