How Christopher Nolan Decided Which Oppenheimer Scenes to Shoot in IMAX
Oppenheimer cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema recently opened up about how he and writer-director Christopher Nolan decided which of the historical thriller's scenes to shoot in the IMAX format.
Van Hoytema explained the rationale that led him and Nolan to film certain scenes with IMAX cameras in an interview with Collider. "[We] work a little bit with our intuition there," he said. "That intuition is also very much led by the idea that we just wanna shoot as much as possible on as rich as possible negative. So, we love shooting as much as possible on IMAX. And also, in this film, the more intimate the situation got, the more sort of up close and personal things got, the more we want to get in there with an IMAX camera."
The cinematographer also touched on the challenges involved with shooting in the IMAX format, noting that the cameras are both bulkier and louder than their non-IMAX counterparts. Van Hoytema noted that this required the cast and crew to employ unorthodox methods to capture dialogue-heavy scenes with IMAX cameras, a process that star Dylan Arnold detailed in a previous interview. According to Arnold, who plays Frank Oppenheimer, he and his co-stars performed sound-only takes for Oppenheimer, which involved Van Hoytema and his team leaving the camera switched off and recording only the audio of the performances.
IMAX CEO Labels Oppenheimer a 'Paradigm Shift'
However, the efforts of the Oppenheimer cast and crew were more than worth it, if comments by IMAX's CEO, Richard Gelfond. Gelfond recently raved about Oppenheimer's impact on the company's increased ticket sales in Q2 2023, which in turn dramatically boosted IMAX's share price. "IMAX drove strong double-digit market share with a trio of Hollywood and local releases -- led by the stunning performance of Oppenheimer -- lifting the company to one of its best weekends of all time at the global box office," he said. Gelfond also hailed the historical thriller as representing a "paradigm shift" among moviegoers towards more high-end cinema experiences following the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMAX is counting on Oppenheimer's strong performance to continue into Q3, not least of all now that Sony's Gran Turismo is arriving in theaters two weeks later than originally scheduled. The company recently announced that it was extended Oppenheimer's IMAX run by an additional week and shared plans for the film to return to its over-sized screens in either late Summer or Fall, "as availability permits."
Oppenheimer is in cinemas now.