Christopher Nolan, though, seems to be the only mainstream filmmaker who's putting his money (or, rather, Warner Bros.' money) where his mouth is when it comes to restoring the old-school moviegoing experience. Like Tarantino (and, to a lesser extent, Spielberg and, with Star Wars: Episode VII, at least, J.J. Abrams), Nolan is a proponent of shooting on celluloid—but unlike other blockbuster directors, he also advocates for a return to movies as singular events, and does whatever he can to make sure his films are projected on celluloid.
Given how successful Nolan's movies can be, he has quite a bit of sway—which explains why his latest, Interstellar, shot on 35mm and 65mm, will be playing a few days early in some theaters that are equipped to show 35mm and 70mm film. In Portland, it'll be the Hollywood Theatre that's getting Interstellar two days before every other theater in town, and they'll be showing it on 35mm. (The Hollywood's first screening is on the evening of Tuesday, November 4, and if you want to see it then, I'd recommend getting tickets now. Nolan nerds are intense.)
The studio's press release—which, either hilariously or depressingly, notes that projecting film on 35mm and 70mm involves "projecting light through celluloid"—makes it sound like seeing Interstellar on film is going to CHANGE YOUR FUCKING LIFE.
Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that the highly anticipated Interstellar from Christopher Nolan will be released in 70mm IMAX film, 70mm film and 35mm film formats on Wednesday, November 5th, two days ahead of its nationwide release. The advance showings will play in select theaters in more than 225 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
“To see Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar on the big screen is an unforgettable moviegoing experience,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures. “From IMAX to traditional film and digital projection, we are pleased that audiences will have the opportunity to see this awe-inspiring film in a wide variety of formats and we are very excited to be making the film available two days early for moviegoers."
The Hollywood's one of the few remaining theaters in Portland to still have a 35mm projector—and, more importantly, to still regularly use it. After debuting the three-hour-long Interstellar on 35mm, they'll be showing it both digitally and on 35mm for "an extended run," while other theaters will start digital screenings on November 7.
In my experience, only a certain strain of film geek seem to really, deeply care about the digital-vs.-35mm debate, at least when it comes to watching movies. The average moviegoer isn't going to notice any difference between a good print and a DCP (or even know what a DCP is). Personally, I'll always have a soft spot for 35mm, but I've also been to my fair share of screenings that've boasted a 35mm print—only to find out, once the movie starts, that the print is so scratched and battered and faded that a Blu-ray would've been better. So it's a mixed bag, and I'm generally wary of and/or annoyed by anybody who's too hardline in one direction or the other.
HOWEVER. I am a fan of anything that restores the "specialness" of going to the movies—the idea that watching a movie is something you go out and do, that it's something you (and the people around you) pay close attention to, that it's an experience that can't be replicated quite so easily with Netflix and a good TV. The last time I can remember that kind of mind-set occurring on a big scale was in 2009, with Avatar; it'd be neat to see it happen again.