Christopher Nolan: Cinemas Need to Change Moviegoing Experience to Survive

No doubt about it. We live in a time of great change. Things are changing in how studios make, market, and release films, and things are changing in how audiences view films. With the rise in digital releases, video streaming, and other miscellaneous home releases, there have never been more options for film buffs on how to consume their medium of choice. Now, more than ever, movie theaters have some serious competition. 

While speaking at the London Film Festival, legendary filmmaker Christopher Nolan spoke about how theaters need to either change the moviegoing experience or face a dying business (via The Guardian).

“For some reason, it has become acceptable to say [to audiences] we are providing this empty room with a TV in it and just watch a film.

That has to change and if it doesn’t change, forget film, forget digital, if that experience for the audience is not valued … people stop going.

…the experience has to be something great or of course people don’t want to come.”

With the affordable and amazing home theaters filling up houses worldwide, no longer do audiences have to see every movie in cinemas. Sure, checking out the latest Marvel or DC flick in theaters is probably the way to go–just so you can see the visual effects in full glory–but what about the lower budget fare? Many are content to wait for those to hit digital or Blu-ray. It’s all a part of the reason why so few films hit theaters that cost more than $20 million, and less than $100 million to make. Anything within that range is a standard mid-budget film with potentially nothing really interesting going on. It’s too expensive to be experimental, and too cheap to have decent visual effects.

So what kind of experience is Nolan talking about when he talks about “changing the experience?” He doesn’t go into great detail about potential solutions, but one aspect he LOVES to bring up has to do with the whole film vs digital debate. 

David Fincher, director of the above's "The Social Network," has shot mostly on digital for every film since 2007's "Zodiac."

David Fincher, director of the above’s “The Social Network,” has shot mostly on digital for every film since 2007’s “Zodiac.”

But perhaps one of the biggest changes to come in the past fifteen years or so comes in the form of digital filmmaking. Filmmakers like Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are renowned purists, who love shooting on film, while others like David Fincher, Robert Rodriguez, and Michael Mann are all about digital. While some would argue that film has a more “organic” look to it, other filmmakers like Fincher love the flexibility that comes with digital. 

This debate, of course, extends to the presentation of film. Nolan praised Tarantino for his move to have theaters bring in a 70mm film projector for his latest film, “Hateful Eight.” Nolan is definitely advocating that theaters and filmmakers work to make things as unique of an experience as possible when going to the theaters, and the 70mm projection is one way to do so.

Quentin Tarantino's "Hateful Eight" is set to release a couple weeks earlier in theaters projecting in 70mm.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Hateful Eight” is set to release a couple weeks earlier in theaters projecting in 70mm.

Nolan also seems to be implying that presenting a movie on film as a general rule is one way to give people a unique experience to what they’d get in their home theaters. After all, this is likely the only way audiences will experience the movie in its purest form.

“I don’t think people are being made aware enough that any digital transfer from film is only ever going to be a translation of the original material … there is always a difference.”

And in regards to the argument that presenting a movie digitally is much cheaper…well, Nolan isn’t buying that argument. 

“What has crept in is that it has become acceptable for [cinema] theatre owners or distributors to say film is more expensive.”

He continues on, saying that while theaters claim film is more expensive, he doesn’t see the savings from digital projections getting passed on to the consumer.

What do you all think? Do movie theaters need to change things up for the consumer and offer more unique viewing experiences? Does the presentation of a movie in film change how you view the picture? Can you tell the difference between a movie shot/presented on film or digital? Let us know in the comments down below!

SOURCE: The Guardian

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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