Christopher Nolan Explains Why Viewing His Movies on Your iPhone Doesn’t Upset Him

Nolan adores the big screen, but he's not against you watching his films on mobile devices. Here's why.
Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan is such an adamant supporter of the big screen theatrical experience that it’s become a running joke among cinephiles that he must hate it when viewers watch his films on their iPhones, or on small airplane screens, or on any other small screen device. It turns out Nolan’s disdain for watching his movies on iPhones is merely a myth. In Tom Shone’s new book “The Nolan Variations,” the director shatters the idea you can’t watch a Christopher Nolan movie on a small screen.

“‘Well, do you have a problem with people seeing ‘Dunkirk’ on my phone or whatever?'” Nolan asked himself before answering, “No, I don’t. But the reason I don’t is because it’s put into these big theaters as its primary form, or its initial distribution. And the experience trickles down, to the extent where, if you have an iPad and you’re watching a movie, you carry with you the knowledge and your understanding of what that cinematic experience would be and you extrapolate that. So when you watch a TV show on your iPad, your brain is in a completely different mindset.”

Nolan referenced an M. Night Shyamalan interview he read years ago where the “Signs” and “Sixth Sense” director said, ‘Yes, we make all our money on ancillary sales, but that initial release is what gives it the push.'” Nolan added, “You know, that’s what movies are. We live and work in an analogue world. We need bums on seats. We need people to come to the cinema, engage with the film.”

So there you have it. Christopher Nolan is totally ok with you watching one of his movie on your iPhone or small screen device. But for Nolan, the theatrical experience holds primacy. As long as his films get an initial push on the big screen, then it’s fine to watch them on an iPhone, as the viewer will “extrapolate” the knowledge of the big screen experience. In other words, Nolan won’t make movies for small devices but you can certainly watch his big screen movies on them.

Read the full excerpt below on Nolan’s thoughts about iPhone watching, courtesy of Trailer Track founder Anton Volkov. Shone’s “The Nolan Variations” is now available for purchase.

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