Christoper Nolan Makes the Case for Saving Movie Theaters

Nolan's impassioned case blends pragmatic and idealistic arguments

Movie theater
Christopher Nolan makes the case for movie theaters in a new op-ed.
CLTmatt/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / March 22, 2020 2:16 pm

It’s been a tough time for movie theaters recently, given the restrictions placed on public gatherings. Drive-in theaters are a notable exception, but even so — it’s prompted many to wonder if the theatrical distribution model is about to change forever.

One filmmaker with plenty to say about this is Christopher Nolan, who recently wrote an impassioned op-ed for The Washington Post. As filmmakers go, Nolan is particularly attuned to the formats in which his films are released: his most recent film, Dunkirk, was released to theaters in a host of formats, including IMAX 70mm.

IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio describes Nolan’s essay as “urging moviegoers to help [movie theaters] survive amid the current public health crisis.”

Nolan’s op-ed blends idealism with a pragmatic look at the number of people employed by movie theaters across the country:

… as Congress considers applications for assistance from all sorts of affected businesses, I hope that people are seeing our exhibition community for what it really is: a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all.

Elsewhere in the op-ed, Nolan addressed the importance of storytelling during times of crisis. “People love to experience stories, because whether they are doing it together or alone, film, television, novels and games engage our emotions and provide us with catharsis,” he wrote.

Still, there may be larger forces at work here. As Alyssa Rosenberg wrote elsewhere in The Washington Post, “the risk is that the pandemic will change the kinds of movies we get to see and whether we can watch them in a crowd.” It’s a time of change both expected and unexpected, and the resolution remains uncertain to everyone.

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