Oppenheimer Chris Nolan IMAZ
Universal Pictures

THERE’S ONLY ONE way to watch Christopher Nolan’s explosive new film that is being hailed as a “masterpiece” of modern cinema: Oppenheimer must be watched in IMAX. That’s the directive from the filmmaker himself, in a roundabout way.

For those uninitiated in cinema speak, IMAX is more than just the big-screened cinema you might have visited once or twice growing up. Beyond being a proprietary system of high-resolution cameras, film formats, film projectors (and subsequent global theatres), it’s also the very best way — some would say only way — to watch a film for how it was intended.

And if you don’t believe us, take it from Nolan himself — the guy who has shot a majority of his awarding-winning films, like Tenet, Dunkirk and The Dark Knight Trilogy, using mostly IMAX cameras.

“The sharpness and the clarity and the depth of the image is unparalleled,” Nolan told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this year. “We put a lot of effort into shooting the film [Oppenheimer] in a way that we can get it out on these large format screens. It really is just a great way of giving people an experience that they can’t possibly get in the home.”

He went on to say in another interview that by viewing films in an IMAX cinema, like Oppenheimer, you’re able to fully immerse yourself into a film of such scope and magnitude.

“I liken IMAX to sort of 3D without the glasses. So you are immersed in the image. The screen disappears. IMAX film cameras and those IMAX film projectors, they give you a format that’s the closest analogy to way the eye sees the world.”

Nolan says IMAX can enhance even the quietest parts, too.

“We knew that IMAX was going to give us the Trinity sequence, which we knew had to be a showstopper. But we also talked about the intimate moments. If we can put that camera, you know, 6 inches from Cillian [Murphy]’s nose, and just, with absolute clarity, look into his eyes, look into his soul, is it going to help us take the audience into his point of view? And I think it does.”

What’s the difference between IMax and normal cinema screens?

If we’re being technical, you’ll find an IMAX film to be at least 10 times more clearer than a 35mm projector, and each frame has some 18,000 pixels of resolution versus a home HD screen that has 1,920 pixels.

“15 perf IMAX 70 mil is the highest quality imaging format that’s ever been devised. It allows you to fully immerse yourself in the story,” says Nolan. “Where the audience will see this on IMAX, on the big screen, they’ll be able to experience an extraordinary moment in human history.”

IMAX descriptor

Where can I watch Oppenheimer?

If you’re a cinephile, as Nolan suggests, it’s highly recommended viewing Oppenheimer in an IMAX cinema near you. The most ideal format to view films like Oppenheimer are in an IMAX cinema using a 1570 Film projector. Melbourne, for example, is one of 30 locations globally with a 1570 projector. 1570 Film has a native resolution of up to 16K, far higher than any other format.

The vast majority of moviegoers should have access to digital presentations of the film, which mean a laser projected image with be formatted and displayed on screen.

And if you’re not close to an IMAX cinema (or PLF screens), don’t despair. According to Nolan, the film will still look incredible on just about any screen (other than at home), as Nolan’s team has worked for six months to digitise the original film for other formats to ensure the best experience on every screen.

“Chris [Nolan] makes films for theatres, for moviegoing audiences,” says Cillian Murphy. “And the best, the most immersive version of that is IMAX.”

And what is Oppenheimer about?

The IMAX-shot epic thriller is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, which details the life of the enigmatic man who created the world’s first atomic bomb (and the consequences of his actions).

Oppenheimer IMAX AI render
Saran Srimee via Midjourney

Where is the best spot to sit in Imax

In a recent interview, Nolan pointed out the best seat in the house when watching IMAX.

“I like to be about in the middle, about a third of the way down from the top,” said Nolan. “That way you’re about just above the centre line height-wise. The viewpoint is great and the sound, the low end in particular, the bassy sort of notes, it kind of rolls towards the back.”

When will Oppenheimer be released? 

Oppenheimer will release in Australia as scheduled on the 20th of July. 


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