Christopher Nolan Isn’t Mad You Watch His Movies On Your Phone


Christopher Nolan says he’s fine with audiences watching his films on devices like tablets or phones, despite his love for the theatrical experience.

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan isn’t angered by people watching his films on their phones. The recent issues involving cinema closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left many in the entertainment industry fighting to keep the theatrical experience alive. Though a staunch supporter of cinemas, Nolan is open to other viewing possibilities for audiences.

There has long been debates over how important the theatrical experience is for films and filmmakers. While some feel that streaming giants like Netflix are the future for releases, others are adamant that cinema is more than just pressing a button any time, anywhere and seeing the latest release. This summer, for example, news arrived that Quentin Tarantino actually walked out of a meeting with then head of Universal, Jeff Shell, after Shell suggested that instead of releasing The Hateful Eight on 70mm, it was released on iPhones. Likewise, revered filmmaker Steven Spielberg made headlines when he challenged the idea that Netflix Originals should qualify for Academy Awards. The dispute greatly underscored just how seriously some very prominent filmmakers regard how and where films are viewed.

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Related: Why Modern Comedy Movies Are Better Off On Netflix Than In Cinemas

As anyone who is a fan of, or has followed Nolan’s career can tell you, the Tenet filmmaker wants audiences to experience something significant when they watch his films. This means that he has many opinions about how his work is viewed and why keeping cinemas alive is so important. This somewhat strict reputation has earned him plenty of respect, but it has also led many to believe he only approves of a very narrow number of viewing options with regard to his films. But in a passage from Tom Shone’s new book, The Nolan Variations, Nolan gives his opinion on watching his films on a phone or other device – and how it’s all fine with him:

“‘Well, do you have a problem with people seeing ‘Dunkirk’ on my phone or whatever?’ No, I don’t. But the reason I don’t is because it’s put into these big theaters as its primary form, or its initial distribution. And the experience trickles down, to the extent where, if you have an iPad and you’re watching a movie, you carry with you the knowledge and your understanding of what that cinematic experience would be and you extrapolate that. So when you watch a TV show on your iPad, your brain is in a completely different mindset.”


It’s an interesting stance, to say the least, and it will likely come as a relief for some Nolan fans to know that their hero isn’t hating them for watching Inception on their iPads. What’s more, Nolan’s opinion offers a strong argument for film to be enjoyed on a variety of different mediums. It’s clearly wrong to assume that the famed filmmaker only cares about the cinematic viewing experience. What it does seem that Nolan cares about is the importance of having cinemas there for audiences, because without them, the “extrapolation” that he speaks of when watching a film on a device couldn’t exist.

Cinemas, in the eyes of Nolan and so many other filmmakers and cinephiles, are the backbone of our collective viewing experience. Technology has given us all a wide variety of options with which to enjoy films, but without the opportunity to see stories unfold on the big screen, the visually stunning aspect of a Christopher Nolan film is rendered considerably less impactful. Hopefully, theaters will be up and running again soon, but for now, Nolan remains one filmmaker who feels confident his films can still be enjoyed via much smaller mediums.

Next: Where To Watch Every Christopher Nolan Movie Online

Source: The Nolan Variations (via @antovolk)

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Updated: November 15, 2020 — 5:17 pm

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