In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the world’s greatest working director argues that as hard as the corporations who run Hollywood will try, technology will not kill films as an art form or the love of going to the movies.
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.
If there were a few more Christopher Nolans, that truly might be the case.
Maybe the movies will survive like baseball has. The industry will shrug off its populist roots and go the luxury box route. Extravagant theatres, $35 tickets… But in the end, it is lucrative broadcast contracts that are fed to the everyday folks at home that really make it all work.
Nolan argues that:
We moan about intrusive moviegoers, but most of us feel a pang of disappointment when we find ourselves in an empty theater.
The audience experience is distinct from home entertainment, but not so much that people seek it out for its own sake. The experience must distinguish itself in other ways.
No. My heart leaps at the sight of an empty theatre and my stomach tightens every time someone comes in after me for fear they will sit nearby.
The audience experience has become a disaster; almost always disruptive and agitating.
I’m curious, though, what Nolan believes filmmakers can deliver that will somehow be different from the current theatre experience. Home theatres are pretty sweet. Theatrical 3D is already declining. What’s left? I’m not asking that in a confrontational way. I respect Nolan. I’m sincerely curious if there’s anything left up that sleeve.
Nolan points out to how Tarantino revitalized cinema in the early 90s. Agreed. As an art form. But did that translate into an increase in theatre-goers? No.