Director Christoper Nolan Makes The Case for Saving Movie Theaters

“The Dark Knight Rises” helmer believes theaters are “a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all.”

Warner Bros.

The Coronavirus pandemic may be the worst crisis to ever hit the film industry money-wise, and as a result, movie theaters may be in trouble. Christopher Nolan, the writer and director of major hits like The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, really doesn’t want that to happen. 

Nolan made his case in an op-ed published by the Washington Post.

Joseph Gordon Levitt in Inception
Joseph Gordon Levitt in “Inception”

In “Movie theaters are a vital part of American social life. They will need our help,” Nolan emphasizes the fact that cinema is deeply embedded in the way we live:

In this time of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty, it’s vital to acknowledge the prompt and responsible decisions made by all kinds of companies across our country that have closed their doors in full knowledge of the damage they are doing to their businesses.

Our nation’s incredible network of movie theaters is one of these industries, and as Congress considers applications for assistance from all sorts of affected businesses, I hope that people are seeing our exhibition community for what it really is: a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all.

These are places of joyful mingling where workers serve up stories and treats to the crowds that come to enjoy an evening out with friends and family. As a filmmaker, my work can never be complete without those workers and the audiences they welcome.

In the same piece, Nolan also addresses the very human need for stories, noting that journalists are wrong to pit forms of entertainment against each other as if they are in some kind of “Darwinian competition.”

“This misses the point,” the director writes, “People love to experience stories, because whether they are doing it together or alone, film, television, novels and games engage our emotions and provide us with catharsis.”

Nolan manages to make his case in a way that doesn’t seem self-serving. Thing is, it may be that the moviegoing experience changes in a huge way. An article published March 20th by Yahoo! Entertainment asks the question, “Are drive-in movie theaters poised for comeback amid coronavirus crisis?” 

Correspondent Kevin Polowy notes that “[after] all, the drive-in offers a safe and practical option for people to spend a few hours away from self-quarantining and still practice social distancing (assuming your municipality is not under government-mandated “safer at home” orders).”

He points out that “there’s virtually no human-to-human contact involved” past paying at the box office, and everyone remains together in their vehicles.

Christopher Nolan may not want to resurrect this form of moviegoing, given it has its own drawbacks (like vulnerability to bad weather), but it’s better than nothing at all.