While Interstellar is already one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, Christopher Nolan's hard sci-fi epic is significant for an entirely different reason.
It all started last week, when Paramount Pictures -- which is distributing Interstellar in North America -- informed theater owners that it will no longer release movies on actual celluloid, making it the first major Hollywood studio to distribute its films only in digital form.
But on Tuesday the studio, via a statement from vice chairman Rob Moore, allowed for some wiggle room on that policy, saying, "Although we anticipate the majority of the studio’s future releases to be executed in digital formats across the U.S., select exceptions will be made."
The first such exception? Interstellar. Nolan is known for his devotion to film and so far has refused to go digital on his movies, while also avoiding 3D (which requires digital cameras) in favor of IMAX (which is still film, just a much larger format). And sure enough, Interstellar was shot on 35mm film and IMAX and will be released that way, although it will be available digitally as well.
This is notable for two reasons: First, Paramount going all-digital on most of its other releases is a major step in Hollywood's campaign to do away with traditional film prints, which are much more expensive to make and distribute, in favor of digital copies, which are much cheaper to produce. Industry observers expect more studios to fall in line this year.
Second, there is an ongoing debate about what qualities may or may not be lost as celluloid gives way to digital, and it's clear which side of that argument Christopher Nolan stands on. It's also clear that with his massive track record of the last few years -- earning billions with the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Man of Steel (which he produced) -- Nolan gets to make and release his films exactly as he sees fit, and his vision at the moment involves the preservation of traditional film.
Interstellar, which stars Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck and many more in a story about the exploration of unknown space via wormholes, opens on Nov. 7. Where do you stand on the film-vs.-digital debate? Does it matter to you, or are the studios simply moving ahead into the future?