Christopher Nolan breaks down the best ways to watch a movie, ahead of his ‘Oppenheimer’ release

It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan made “ Oppenheimer ” to be seen on the massive display. But not all massive screens are created equal.

That’s a part of the rationale why Universal Pictures has made “Oppenheimer” tickets obtainable early for over a thousand “premium large format” (or PLF) screens, with choices together with IMAX 70mm, 70mm, IMAX digital, 35mm, Dolby Cinema and extra.

Knowing that even these phrases can get overwhelming and technical, Nolan went a step additional: In an unique interview with The Associated Press, he supplied a information to his favourite codecs, explaining why it issues and even the place he likes to sit down in order that audiences don’t really feel like they want a movie faculty diploma (or one in theoretical physics) earlier than deciding on a theater.

“You rarely get the chance to really talk to moviegoers directly about why you love a particular format and why if they can find an IMAX screen to see the film on that’s great,” Nolan stated. “We put a lot of effort into shooting the film in a way that we can get it out on these large format screens. It really is just a great way of giving people an experience that they can’t possibly get in the home.”

In a movie about about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who oversaw the event of first atomic bomb throughout World War II, this will probably be particularly pivotal in viewing the Trinity Test, the primary detonation of a nuclear weapon. Nolan and his results groups recreated the blast, with all its blinding brilliance.

“We knew that this had to be the showstopper,” Nolan stated. “We’re able to do things with picture now that before we were really only able to do with sound in terms of an oversize impact for the audience—an almost physical sense of response to the film.”

“Oppenheimer,” starring Cillian Murphy, opens in theaters on July 21.


“Oppenheimer” was shot utilizing a few of the highest decision movie cameras that exist. Like “ Dunkirk ” and “ Tenet,” “Oppenheimer” was filmed fully on giant format movie inventory, that means a mixture of IMAX 65mm and Panavision 65mm (suppose David Lean/“Lawrence of Arabia”), that’s then projected in 70mm.

“The sharpness and the clarity and the depth of the image is unparalleled,” Nolan stated. “The headline, for me, is by shooting on IMAX 70mm film, you’re really letting the screen disappear. You’re getting a feeling of 3D without the glasses. You’ve got a huge screen and you’re filling the peripheral vision of the audience. You’re immersing them in the world of the film.”

Nolan has been taking pictures with IMAX cameras since “The Dark Knight.” Audiences would commonly gasp at seeing its first shot projected in IMAX 70mm. Though it’s “just a helicopter shot” of some buildings in Chicago, it helps clarify the ineffable energy of the format.

On a technical degree, the IMAX movie decision is nearly 10 instances greater than a 35mm projector and every body has some 18,000 pixels of decision versus a house HD display that has 1,920 pixels.


The 5mm distinction goes again to when that further house on the movie needed to be reserved for the soundtrack. With digital sound, that’s pointless and it’s “purely a visual enhancement,” Nolan defined.


“We have to plan very carefully because by shooting an IMAX film, you capture a lot of information,” he stated. “Your movie is going to translate very well to all the formats because you’re getting the ultimate amount of visual information. But there are different shapes to the screen — what we call aspect ratios. What you have to plan is how you then frame your imagery so that it can be presented in different theaters with equal success.”

Starting with “The Dark Knight,” they developed a system that they name “center punching the action” in order that nothing is misplaced.

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema can be at all times conscious of the “frame lines for the different theaters” when wanting via the digital camera.

On the most important displays, IMAX 1.43:1 (the large sq. display) the display basically disappears for the viewers. For different codecs like 35mm, the highest and the underside get cropped.

But, Nolan stated, “from a creative point of view, what we’ve found over the years is that there’s no compromise to composition.”


The IMAX cameras are simply too loud for dialogue heavy scenes, however Nolan is optimistic concerning the new cameras being developed.


Some of “Oppenheimer” is offered in black and white for a really particular story motive.

“I knew that I had two timelines that we were running in the film,” Nolan stated. “One is in color, and that’s Oppenheimer’s subjective experience. That’s the bulk of the film. Then the other is a black and white timeline. It’s a more objective view of his story from a different character’s point of view.”

Nolan’s want for the black and white parts to be of equal picture high quality to the remainder of the movie led to the event of the primary ever black and white IMAX movie inventory, which Kodak made and Fotokem developed.

“We shot a lot of our hair and makeup tests using black and white. And then we would go to the IMAX film projector at CityWalk and project it there,” he stated. “I’ve just never seen anything like it. To see such a massive black and white film image? It’s just a wonderful thing.”


For Nolan, the “best possible experience” to view “Oppenheimer” in theaters is the IMAX 70mm movie displays. These are additionally among the many rarest, presently set for 25 places in North America together with the AMC Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, the AMC Lincoln Square in New York, the Cinemark Dallas, the Regal King of Prussia close to Philadelphia and the AutoNation IMAX in Fort Lauderdale.

The prints span over 11 miles of movie inventory, weigh some 600 kilos and run via movie projectors horizontally.

There may also be over 100 70mm prints (“a fabulous presentation,” Nolan stated) despatched to theaters all over the world, with over 77 (and extra to come back) on sale in North America at main chains and plenty of impartial places just like the Music Box in Chicago and the AFI Silver in Washington D.C.

“The two formats are sort of different and I love them both,” he stated.

The sequences projected in IMAX 70mm actually “come to life” on these screens, and vice versa for the 70mm sequences on these particular projectors. In IMAX theaters, for instance, issues shot with IMAX movie cameras will increase vertically to fill your complete display.


The overwhelming majority of moviegoers in North America could have simpler entry to digital displays. These embody IMAX digital, which might generally imply a laser projected picture and different instances includes a retro formatted display, and what’s referred to as “exhibitor PLF,” that means giant format display and projection techniques developed by particular person theater chains (like Regal RPX, Cinemark XD and Cineplex UltraAVX). When doubtful, search for an “X” within the title.

But don’t dismay: It’ll nonetheless look nice, in keeping with Nolan, whose crew has labored for six months to digitize the unique movie for different codecs to make sure the very best expertise on each display.

“This is the exciting thing about shooting an IMAX film: When you scan it for the digital format, you’re working with the absolute best possible image that you could acquire, and that translates wonderfully to the new projector formats like the laser projectors,” he stated.

Nolan stated the “IMAX impact” over the past 20 to 30 years has resulted in additional theaters paying extra consideration to presentation, from projection to sound, which has been “great for filmmakers.”


Well, that comes down to non-public desire however right here’s the place Nolan likes to sit down.

“When I’m in a theater that’s Cinemascope ratio, I like to be right near the front, middle of the third row,” he stated. “When I’m in a stadium, IMAX 1.43:1, then I actually like to be a little behind the center line right up at the middle. So, a little further back.”

Leave a Comment