Christopher Nolan

Though many of us would like this not to be the case, 3D isn’t going anywhere. In the past year, as the format has really exploded in Hollywood, The Dark Knight and Inception director Christopher Nolan has emerged as a figurehead representing old-school blockbusters. The director loves shooting film, as opposed to digital HD or other formats, and resisted releasing this summer’s Inception as a 3D film. So can we expect him to be the anti-3D standard bearer into the future? Probably not.

Speaking during a Q&A at the Hero Complex Film Festival this past weekend, Nolan said “I’m not a huge fan of 3D,” but suggested that there was significant studio pressure to turn out a 3D film anyway, as he admitted that he’d done conversion tests on footage from Inception and would eventually likely release a film in 3D.

The LA Times was behind the festival, and reports Nolan’s comments. The reason that, after doing 3D tests on Inception footage shot in 2D, the film will be released in its native format? “We didn’t have time to do it to the standards that I would be happy with,” Nolan said.

The filmmaker went into detail about why calling traditional film 2D is a misnomer and the fact that theaters require projections of a certain brightness to make an impact, which 3D glasses diminish. He says that Inception is “very bright and clear” and that with respect to current 3D, “I find the dimness of the image extremely alienating.”

But the fact that studios are pushing for 3D film remains the underlying issue. Nolan said,

Well, let me put it this way: There is no question if audiences want to watch films in stereoscopic imaging, that’s what the studios will be doing, and that’s what I’ll be doing.

But, as we’ve said before, Nolan is a devotee of film and has little interest in shooting on video. So he says it is unlikely that he’d shoot a film natively in 3D; when he does a 3D picture it will be shot on film and post-converted:

There are a lot of problems with [shooting video for native 3D] … the idea of shooting a whole film through a massive beam-splitter and so forth — there are enormous compromises. Post-conversion technologies probably, for me, are definitely the future, but really it is up to the audiences what they want to see and how they want to watch their films.

The question ends up being: will either Batman 3 or Superman (or both) be released in 3D? I can see Nolan making a case for releasing Batman 3 as a standard format film, to make it of a piece with the other two films in the series. But Superman will be a more difficult holdout — if that isn’t 3D I’ll be shocked.

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