Darren Aronofsky’s latest film “The Whale” opens in select theaters next week, but the Oscar nominee is looking backward as much as forward these days. In an upcoming interview for IndieWire’s Awards Spotlight series, the “Requiem for a Dream” director revealed that he’s plotting an IMAX re-release of his first film, “Pi,” next year to commemorate its 25th anniversary.
“When I sold the film at Sundance in 1998, I fought really hard that the filmmakers would get the movie back,” he said. “They didn’t really want to do it and they were like, ‘Fine, we’ll give it back to you in 25 years.’ So that’s about to happen and we’ve been actually scanning the negative at 8k, and we are working on an ATMOS mix and polishing it up, and we’re planning to do an IMAX release on March 14, for the movie.” (March 14, of course, is Pi Day.) IMAX did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.
Aronofsky said he has been working on a digital scan with cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who shot the movie on black-and-white 16mm reversal film. “Back then, it was all photochemical,” Aronofsky said. “There was no digital work on it. It’s just wild to see how much the technology has changed, the form has changed. It’s just such a different world. I mean, the film was mixed in stereo. There wasn’t even surround sound for music. It’s just such a different form of technology.” If he could address his younger self now, he added, “I’d say, ‘Definitely fight to get it back, because that’ll be cool.'”
In an interview with IndieWire after the “Pi” premiere at Sundance in 1998, Aronofsky was adamant that he would sell the movie to a distributor that would give it a theatrical release despite the evolving home video market. (It ultimately went to now-defunct Artisan Entertainment.) He added that when he envisioned the uncompromising thriller, he was “trying not to make it esoteric. People seem to be responding that they get it.”
The film stars Sean Gullette as a mathematician who becomes obsessed with searching for patterns in the universe as part of a quest for meaning. Aronofsky believes that the themes of optimism about discovering the secrets of our existence are more necessary than ever in our rapidly changing world.
“It just amazes me how much changes and how easy it is to forget that it changes,” he said during the recent conversation.. “To me, that gives me a lot of hope because I feel like back then it was like a world filled with endless optimism. It was the ’90s and anything seemed possible. In today’s world, I think there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear, and a lot of disconnection. But I believe that can really flip in a minute and I think optimism is needed for the next 25 years, deeply.”
Stay tuned for IndieWire’s full conversation with Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser later this month.
Reporting by Eric Kohn.