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Christopher Nolan: I Won’t Work With Netflix Because Their Film Strategy is ‘Pointless’

The "Dunkirk" director tells IndieWire why Netflix's digital distribution is a "mindless policy."

Christopher NolanWarner Bros. Pictures presentation, Arrivals, CinemaCon, Las Vegas, USA - 29 Mar 2017

Christopher Nolan

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Inevitably, the debate surrounding viewing platforms leads to television, which Nolan doesn’t find troubling on its own terms. (His brother, Jonathan, produces the sci-fi western “Westworld” for HBO.)

“Every generation thinks they’re the ones who invented television and that there’s never been any good television before,” he said. “I think when you look at the different supposed golden eras of television, there is a tendency in the television community or the press around it to eulogize about TV. Film tends not to do that about itself. The film industry tends to not sit around and go, ‘Oh, what we do is so much better than what Howard Hawks was doing in ‘50s or whatever. It’s just a stylistic difference.”

He shrugged off the notion that TV was somehow supplanting movies in popular culture. “Ten years ago I’d get asked a lot of questions about the video game industry,” he said. “Like, is that going to kill movies or whatever? It’s a different thing. Now it’s VR. They’re just different things. I love television. It’s great. I love what my brother’s doing in TV, I love watching him work in that format. It’s just a completely different medium.”

For his part, Nolan is content with working in the studio arena, particularly with Warner Bros., his partner since 2002’s “Insomnia.” “Studio filmmaking has always been a high-stakes business because it really is where the art and commerce comes together,” he said. “If you can find a way to work in the system, it’s a very powerful machine, with a lot of resources, and excellent distribution mechanisms.”

Still, he was particular about which projects he brought to that level, noting that he made his 2014 short film “Quay,” about the American stop-motion animators, independently. “I wouldn’t do that at a studio,” he said. “But my interest in cinema is large-scale storytelling, and I think the studios are the best place to do that, if you can find a great working relationship.”

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