The large graphic hovering above today’s CinemaCon luncheon filmmaker interview event said “Interstellar THE WORK OF CHRISTOPHER NOLAN“, but any theatre owner who was there anxious to get details of the blockbuster filmmaker’s latest learned very little. Nolan said he is still involved in his favorite part of the process – putting the first cut of Interstellar together – and wants to keep it all under wraps for now. He did praise star Matthew McConaughey’s work just as he did when I saw him at an event on the Paramount lot last week. Today he told the crowd he cast the brand new Oscar winner because he has a sort of “everyman” the audience could see the story through, saying he got interested in him particularly after seeing Mud. He also said his brother Jonah had actually written the initial script and that he became involved years later incorporating other ideas and elements that shaped the final screenplay. But in terms of real scoops we got none. “Really it’s about travel to other places we couldn’t reach through travel through space because the time expanse is far beyond anything we could conceive of,” was the most detailed description moderator Todd McCarthy could wrest out of him in a 50-minute interview, despite repeated tries. But Nolan did explain part of his motivation in tackling the ambitious film that Paramount will release domestically on November 7th (Warner Bros has international). “It’s been really an interesting challenge to me. I’ve been really enjoying it. I grew up in the era that was pretty much the golden age of the blockbuster when something being a family film could be very broad based and universal in its appeal and I feel that’s something I want to see again. Something that really looks at where we are as people, where we might go, something that tries to address the human experience…For me it’s really like harking back to the kinds of films I grew up with, that took me to places I could hardly imagine,” he said mentioning Star Wars and a theatrical re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey that the 43-year-old filmmaker noted his father took him to when he was just seven.
But, knowing his audience, he did talk about how the film will be presented. “We shot quite a lot of the film in IMAX, more than we had ever done in the past. There will be some really beautiful IMAX film prints that will be in certain key locations. And we are really maximizing the various technical capabilities out there, particularly in the sound mix. We have very ambitious plans in how we are going to take a very big approach as to how we maximize the potential of the existing sound system in theatres…using existing equipment, you don’t have to buy anything new. Really what we are attempting to do is give audiences a better experience, an immersive experience. We are looking to theatre owners to really transport us and give us the best they can in how we get that out to the public. As they say, the projectionist has the final cut. I really think on this film the technical aspect of how this film is presented is really going to be more important than on any film I’ve done before, so that means getting into partnership with the studios and theatres,” he said.
Unlike Martin Scorsese and James Cameron who have done this spot at previous CinemaCons, Nolan consistently extolled his love for and belief in using film rather than all the emerging digital formats. “I am not committed to film out of nostalgia. I am in favor of any kind of technical innovation but it needs to exceed what has gone before and so far nothing has exceeded anything that’s come before (meaning film),” he said before extolling IMAX as a format that can’t be touched in terms of resolution. Once again he explained why he prefers not working in 3D, saying it cuts down on the “shared experience” of seeing films in theaters but did praise Baz Luhrmann’s work with 3D on The Great Gatsby as extraordinary, very unique and an exception to his own rule. “It’s just not right for films I want to do,” he said. He’s also leery about a constant focus on innovation but didn’t want to offend companies in the audience. He said too much of what is being developed is for home use when instead the most important innovations should be saved for theaters drawing applause from the exhibitors. He also tried to encourage the theatre owners to “show more re-releases. You need to show great old movies in your theatres”. For cinephiles like me who like seeing the great classics on the big screen, that sadly drew no applause from a group seemingly more interested in the latest, biggest thing which they undoubtedly hope could be Interstellar.