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Christopher Nolan Is Determined To Use Multi-Million Dollar Budgets, Because He Can

Rising with his early work on indie films like ‘Memento,’ the director has made a clear shift towards bigger, high-budget movies. He shows no signs of going back to smaller projects in the near future.

Christopher Nolan recently shared with Time magazine that, while he enjoys smaller dramas like ‘Aftersun’ and ‘Past Lives,’ he feels a duty to stick with big-budget films. The director shared:

“I’m drawn to working at a large scale because I know how fragile the opportunity to marshal those resources is. I know that there are so many filmmakers out there in the world who would give their eye teeth to have the resources I put together, and I feel I have the responsibility to use them in the most productive and interesting way.”

Nolan’s recent project, ‘Oppenheimer,’ was made with a budget of $100 million. This is less than half of what was spent on his thriller, ‘Tenet,’ which cost over $200 million, but still a high price for dialogue-driven drama.

Christopher Nolan’s Latest Large-Scale Project

Filming the 2023 movie took 60 days. Production designer Ruth De Jong mentioned that the director cut filming days to redirect the budget toward production design and location settings. On the ‘Team Deakins’ podcast, she said:

“It felt like a $100 million indie. This is not ‘Tenet.’ Chris wanted to shoot all over the United States… just plane tickets alone and putting crew up all over the place [is expensive]. Not to mention, I have to build Los Alamos; it doesn’t exist. That’s where I really felt like it was impossible.”

Nolan wasn’t concerned about the money, though:

“Chris said, ‘Forget the money. Let’s just design what we want.’ So that’s what we did, and when construction first budgeted my town, it was $20 million. Chris was like, ‘Yeah, no. Stop.’”

The Director’s Efforts Paid Off

By cutting around 30 days from the originally 85-day filming schedule, the ‘Interstellar’ director managed to set aside more funds for the film’s design and aesthetics.

In the end, ‘Oppenheimer’ has gained significant recognition, leading the 2024 Academy Awards with 13 nominations. While the film is the frontrunner for Best Picture, Nolan himself is a notable name in the Best Director category.

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