Jordan Peele Had A Question For Nope's Cinematographer That Only IMAX Could Answer

"Nope" sees writer-director Jordan Peele working with an estimated $68 million budget, his biggest yet, and he's brought cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema — a frequent collaborator of Christopher Nolan — along for the UFO ride. Films like "Interstellar," "Dunkirk," and "Tenet," all of which Hoytema lensed for Nolan, were partially shot with IMAX cameras. Experience with the format is just one important skill Hoytema brought to his collaboration with Peele on "Nope."

Audiences going into "Nope" may have basic questions about the film's sci-fi horror plot, since much of it was shrouded in secrecy prior to the film's release. By way of a synopsis, the final trailer for "Nope" simply asks, "What's a bad miracle?" But Peele himself had a different question for Hoytema when they set about making the movie. In an interview with Collider, he said: 

"When I first sort of uttered this thought of making a totally immersive UFO film, I talked to [Hoyte van Hoytema]. Obviously scope was a big thing, and I wanted to push myself, and I asked him, 'How would you capture actual UFO? If you had to get, you've had one chance, what camera would you use? And that's what we should use in the movie, both in the movie and in the meta way.' And he said the IMAX cameras. I don't know if he just really wanted to make an IMAX movie, but obviously he has so much experience in that realm, and what he told me is true. There's a different kind of immersion that happens with IMAX, and there's a different kind of resolution. So for posterity alone, they send these cameras up to space, you know?"

Questions and cameras

The plot of "Nope" involves two siblings, OJ and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer), having close encounters of the third kind on their Hollywood horse ranch. Michael Wincott plays the impressively named Antlers Holst, a cinematographer who gets caught up in the action with them and utilizes IMAX cameras of his own at one point. This speaks to what Peele said about using such cameras to film the movie, but also featuring them in the movie "in the meta way."

/Film's Erin Brady called "Nope" a "love and hate letter to Hollywood," one that "questions if the spectacle of show business is really worth the mistreatment inflicted upon those involved." There's a sense in which any movie that gets green-lit and makes it across the finish line from production to release is a miracle for even being made. Yet the tagline of "Nope" — that question, "What's a bad miracle?" — puts an entirely different spin on that, reframing movie magic as something that might necessarily come with human casualties.

"Nope" raises a lot of questions, but we know the answer to one of them now, at least. If you want to capture a UFO on film, you've got to do it on an IMAX camera.

"Nope" is in theaters now.