Christopher Nolan Showed First ‘Oppenheimer’ 70mm Print to Steven Spielberg: ‘Seeing the Great Master Watching? It Was Sort of Irresistible’

Christopher Nolan revealed to the Associated Press that Steven Spielberg was the first person outside of the studio that he showed the “Oppenheimer” 70mm print to once the reels came in. As fate would have it, Spielberg called Nolan out of the blue for something that had nothing to do with “Oppenheimer” when the 70mm film print first arrived in Nolan’s possession. Nolan wasn’t going miss the opportunity to watch Spielberg watch one of his movies.

“You know when I first got the 70mm/5perf print, I showed it to Steven Spielberg,” Nolan said in a joint conversation with “Dune” filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. “He had called me about something else and I had just got the print as well and I hadn’t shown it to anyone. I mean, the studio had seen it. But we screened it for him on his own. I sat behind him and watched him watch the film. It was an extraordinary experience.”

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“He told me he absolutely adored it,” Villeneuve mentioned

“He said some very kind things, but really just to watch him watch,” Nolan added. “I wasn’t even supposed to watch it with him, but seeing the great master watching? It was sort of irresistible.”

“Oppenheimer” is currently nominated for 13 Academy Awards, more than any other film at the 2024 ceremony, and it was recently back in Imax theaters, where its total gross bumped up to nearly $960 million at the worldwide box office. But it’s not the only Nolan movie taking the film world by storm. The director’s 2020 spy epic “Tenet” is returning to Imax and 70mm locations for one week only starting Feb. 23.

“The thing with ‘Tenet’ is, I think of all the films I have made, it’s the one that’s very much about the experience of watching films,” Nolan told the AP. “It’s about watching spy movies in a way. It tries to build on that experience and take it to this very magnified, slightly crazy place. A lot of that is about sound and music and this huge image.”

“Most people see our films in the home, numerically speaking, but the identity of those films is really defined by their initial theatrical presentation,” Nolan added. “And that excitement carries through. More than any film I’ve made, ‘Tenet’ was designed to have this very theatrical, IMAX, larger than life identity.”

Considering the original “Tenet” theatrical took place in the middle of the COVID pandemic, this one-week re-release will likely be the first time many moviegoers discover the Nolan film in theaters for the first time.

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