Why Nolan's sci-fi epic Interstellar is making some theater owners very upset

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Oct 6, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT (Updated)

Christopher Nolan decided to do something really cool to roll out his new sci-fi flick Interstellar, but apparently some theater companies are not too happy about the early-opening promo.

In case you haven’t heard, Nolan is opening the eagerly anticipated flick a few days early for theaters that are willing to show the movie on film — as opposed to digital — because he’s a huge proponent of the classic film medium.

Last week, Paramount and Warner Bros. announced that theaters still equipped to project 35mm and 70mm film will get Nolan's Interstellar two days early, on Nov. 5. Not a bad deal, and many cinemas are importing or dusting off film projectors to play the film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, approximately 240 theaters in 77 markets are participating, including 41 IMAX locations. Cool, right?

Well, unless you’re one of those chains that has fully transitioned to digital projection. If you’re one of those companies, you might be a little peeved that you don’t get to show the film early on your fancy digital projectors. Spotlight Theatres founder Joe Paletta noted that the retro push for the opening “devalues what we've done,” in reference to expensive upgrades to high-def digital projectors. Foothills Cinemas president and CEO Byron Berkley agreed, adding that it “makes no sense to step back in time.”

Though most everything seems to be going digital these days, Nolan remains a huge proponent of film. He actually shot Interstellar using a combination of 35mm film and 65mm IMAX film, which should give it that unique look we’re quickly losing. Here’s how Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore explained the decision:

“Interstellar plays spectacularly, and we have a filmmaker who loves film, so we wanted to take a moment to showcase film as an important part of our heritage.”

It’s like the MP3s-versus-vinyl debate. Yes, digital is obviously easier, but you lose the history and warmth when you phase out the tech that started the filmmaking industry — and Nolan sees this promo as a way to (hopefully) remind moviegoers that film is still awesome too. Will it take a few dollars away from digital project houses? Probably. But if it means we get to see the movie as the filmmaker intended, we still think it’s a cool move.

What’s your take? Will you be seeing Interstellar when it opens Nov. 7? Will you see it in film or digital?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)