It's hard to understate the importance of seeing films on the big screen. As a cinephile, seeing movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer on the biggest screen possible created an experience that I couldn't get on my TV, like when the projectionist forgets to switch the 70mm Oppenheimer film (my opinion of the fading number of projectionist is another story).

With Barbie getting a re-release on IMAX screens and Oppenheimer still running in theaters, audiences, studios, and filmmakers are talking about the return of audiences to theaters to see films on the big screen.

Paul Thomas Anderson recently said that "nature was healing" as audience drove hours to see Oppenheimer on IMAX and 70mm. Now, Dune filmmaker Denis Villeneuve echos PTA's sediment, saying that he knew Nolan's biopic epic would be "a masterpiece."

Denis Villeneuve on 'Oppenheimer'

Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, speaking in a court room in 'Oppenheimer'


Credit: Universal Pictures

Villeneuve told The Associated Press that he knew Oppenheimer would a big success, but "where it is right now has blown the roof off of my projection. It's a three-hour movie about people talking about nuclear physics."

As of Monday, Oppeneheimer has brought in $912 million in the global box office (according to Box Office Mojo), and is Nolan's third highest grossing film, trailing behind his two Dark Knight sequels. The film is the third biggest grossing film of the year behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie, has become the most successful biopic ever, and has become the highest grossing World War II movie ever.

There is no doubt that Oppenheimer is a success, but what is it that is driving audiences to the theaters?

While Barbenheimer gave Nolan's film fuel, Nolan shared his preferred format for optimal viewing with audiences: IMAX 70mm. Many of these showings were sold out four weeks in advance. Nine weeks later, 11 of the 25 screens capable of projecting the IMAX 70mm prints continues to play in theaters across the country. The TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles even brought a film projector back into operation and built a custom booth to continue projecting the film.

The Future is Large Format

J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, in 'Oppenheimer'


Credit: Universal Pictures

Like PTA, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino, Nolan has been beating the drum of celluloid for years. While many filmmakers shoot on digital for logistical reasons, the auteurs consistently choose film and fight to project their projects the good old fashion way.

It finally seems that the audiences and theaters are listening as the gravitate toward film, something that feels tangible.

Oppenheimer producer Emma Thomas, also Nolan's wife, says to AP, “Chris has always talked a lot about the formats and wanting people to see the best version possible, as far as the way that he intended the film to be seen. ... Now I’m hearing that there are other studios who are interested in putting their films out on those film screens."

“It’s not that we think that film is the only was," Thomas says. "Every every project is different and requires a different toolkit. We’ve always just wanted filmmakers to have that option.”

For Villeneuve, he says, "The future of cinema is IMAX and the large formats. The audience wants to see something that they cannot have at home, that they cannot have on streaming. They want to experience an event... It's a tremendous art form that needs to be experienced in theaters."

Scorsese recently released a rallying call to filmmakers to fight for movies that are not seen as content, and Villeneuve believes that Oppenheimer is a sign that people are tired of the streaming giants' and franchise films' reign on entertainment and cinema.

“There’s this notion that movies, in some people’s minds, became content instead of an art form. I hate that word, ‘content,’” Villeneuve said. “That movies like Oppenheimer are released on the big screen and become an event brings back a spotlight on the idea that it’s a tremendous art form that needs to be experienced in theaters.”

It is wonderful to see people from all ages enjoying films and supporting filmmakers by going to the theaters. Whether its a date night or a self-care night, theaters are a magical place that allow us to explore new worlds, feel every nuanced emotions, and celebrate and live in fantastic worlds from directors that know how to entertain us without the need for a distraction.

Source: The Associated Press