Christopher Nolan Goes Bold on the Future of Cinema in the WSJ
Whoa. Time to geek out. So, Christopher Nolan just wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal, about the future of cinema. And it's kind of brilliant, but of course we all expected that. The title online explains: "Christopher Nolan: Films of the Future Will Still Draw People to Theaters", with the subtitle "When Movies Can Look or Sound Like Anything, Says the 'Dark Knight' Director, Extraordinary Work Will Emerge". Now, Nolan is in the midst of finishing work on Interstellar, his sci-fi epic which will arrive in theaters this November. He makes rather some bold comments about the state of the industry. "We moan about intrusive moviegoers, but most of us feel a pang of disappointment when we find ourselves in an empty theater." Yep.
Nolan goes on to write very eloquently and actually quite optimistically about the future of cinema, if we can get things under control. It's a short piece, but cuts right through it and really touches on some great points. Of course he's as good at writing editorials as he is directing movies. The best part of the entire piece is when he gets in the real future, where things could go if they actually turned out well, which is, a focus on the experience and spectacle of the movies again in glorious movie palaces (which might just happen once we get around to seeing Star Wars: Episode VII). It's best to let Nolan explain himself - excerpt from WSJ:
The theaters of the future will be bigger and more beautiful than ever before. They will employ expensive presentation formats that cannot be accessed or reproduced in the home (such as, ironically, film prints). And they will still enjoy exclusivity, as studios relearn the tremendous economic value of the staggered release of their products.
The projects that most obviously lend themselves to such distinctions are spectacles. But if history is any guide, all genres, all budgets will follow. Because the cinema of the future will depend not just on grander presentation, but on the emergence of filmmakers inventive enough to command the focused attention of a crowd for hours.
These new voices will emerge just as we despair that there is nothing left to be discovered. As in the early '90s, when years of bad multiplexing had soured the public on movies, and a young director named Quentin Tarantino ripped through theaters with a profound sense of cinema's past and an instinct for reclaiming cinema's rightful place at the head of popular culture.
Never before has a system so willingly embraced the radical teardown of its own formal standards. But no standards means no rules. Whether photochemical or video-based, a film can now look or sound like anything.
It's unthinkable that extraordinary new work won't emerge from such an open structure. That's the part I can't wait for.
Me either, Mr. Nolan! Read his entire piece at WSJ. There's something that makes me particularly excited when I read this thinking, in the back of my mind, that we have Nolan about to bring us Interstellar, and J.J. Abrams about to bring us a new Star Wars, and James Cameron about to bring us more Avatar, all on the horizon. I find it interesting that Nolan is out there, writing a piece for the newspaper, talking about the future of cinema, with some projects like this on the way, because it means there is hope. And he's hopeful, too. He's seen up-and-coming filmmakers, he knows what's on the horizon, and despite the dimness of some of it, there's still that drive to make things great again. I love his searing statement about modern gimmicks:
These developments will require innovation, experimentation and expense, not cost-cutting exercises disguised as digital "upgrades" or gimmickry aimed at justifying variable ticket pricing. The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business—and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage.
Exactly. While he doesn't say it, that sounds like a veiled hint at 3D being one of those gimmicks, and he doesn't buy it. Instead, he'll give us IMAX in full resolution, to show us more and more depth, to expand and deepen the experience even further. Even though there's plenty of superhero movies and franchises and sequels and adaptations on the way, I'm still looking forward to the next few years in movies. I'm excited to find out what the future does hold, and how things continue to evolve, with technology in movie theaters, and with innovative filmmakers. Thankfully we only have four more months to wait until Interstellar, but oh my is it going to be so good. See the Interstellar trailer. What do you think of Nolan's comments?