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Alfonso Cuarón Tells Indiewire Why TV Trumps Cinema at 'Gravity' Reception

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire November 20, 2013 at 4:45PM

Alfonso Cuarón shook up The Hollywood Reporter's Directors Roundtable a week back (and drew a baffled look from Steve McQueen) when he said that television is more interesting than mainstream cinema nowadays -- this coming from the man whose "Gravity" is arguably the most audaciously cinematic studio effort of the year.
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Alfonso Cuarón shook up The Hollywood Reporter's Directors Roundtable a week back (and drew a baffled look from Steve McQueen) when he said that television is more interesting than mainstream cinema nowadays -- this coming from the man whose "Gravity" is arguably the most audaciously cinematic studio effort of the year.

"I enjoyed the directors talk," Cuarón told Indiewire this morning at a "Gravity" reception hosted by Warner Bros. in New York. "There's not enough time to get into real disagreements. I disagree with them about TV vs. mainstream cinema, but I was not going to get into it because it would have turned into a thing."

Still, for anyone following Cuarón closely, his viewpoint shouldn't come as a huge surprise. As his follow-up to "Gravity," Cuaron is heading to the small screen with "Believe," the NBC supernatural drama that he co-created with executive producer (and fellow star warrior) J.J. Abrams. The show is set for a mid-season premiere in 2014 with a pilot Cuarón directed himself.

"Mainstream TV offers better variety than most mainstream cinema."

"I enjoyed doing it," Cuarón said of shooting the pilot (you can watch the trailer here). "After doing people floating in space, everything seemed easy. So I had a blast."

Given Cuarón was cut short from discussing in detail why he feels TV trumps mainstream film at the moment during the THR discussion, Indiewire asked him to elaborate.

"I feel that mainstream TV offers better variety than most mainstream cinema," he said. "Cinema is a cinematic experience, there's no question about that, but it's a small percentage compared to TV.  TV offers you narrative; better narrative than cinema. Some shows they even have good cinematic moments, like 'Breaking Bad.' But it's not the norm."

Citing "Broadchurch" and "Mad Men" as two other shows he admires, he went on to stress that TV is where the good dramas are. "There's a complexity to the characters; you miss that in most mainstream cinema.

"Sometimes my kids get upset when I say this. I'm not putting cinema down. But the thematics you can explore in mainstream TV, film studios don't dare touch."

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity, Believe, NBC, Awards