A blog about science and movies.
The Internet has been buzzing since last night from early reviews of The Dark Knight Rises. Everything from Best Picture talk to audience members crying and jumping from their seats with applause. But at one press-only screening at the Universal Citywalk AMC (actually the closest theater to my apartment and where we were considering seeing TDKR, until now) the projector malfunctioned a little more than an hour into the movie. Deadline has the full account, but essentially there was a sync issue during the first reel change, due to a glitch in the computer. The members of the media were asked to return the next morning for another screening and not to judge the film on this truncated presentation.
Unfortunately for director Christopher Nolan, this malfunction isn’t a ringing endorsement for his crusade to preserve film and fight the transition to digital. Just last week, the celluloid camp lost one of its biggest champions, as Martin Scorsese announced he would be shooting The Wolf of Wall Street in a digital format. Now, technical glitches during a reel change of the biggest movie of Christopher Nolan’s career could threaten to give ammunition to the argument against 35mm.
The fight has been ongoing for years. Studios like digital because it’s cheaper to ship hard drives out to the theaters than bulky film reels. Theaters like digital because they can hire one non-union, minimally-trained worker to run a bunch of projectors. Some filmmakers like it because it’s cheaper and easier to work with than film. Nolan has long been on the side of the more traditional medium, using the last installment in the Dark Knight saga as a testament to film. But this snafu (worth noting at only one of the advance press screening locations) is sure to be a black eye for his cause.
Granted, the digital format is not immune to technical glitches either. A hard drive can become corrupted or even lost – and let’s not forget it was a computer problem that caused the sync issue during this screening of TDKR. But with digital seeming to win on every front, the defenders of 35mm can’t risk even small loses.