Interstellar (film)

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Interstellar
A ringed spacecraft, revolves around a wormhole, here depicted as a reflective sphere.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema
Edited by Lee Smith
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • October 26, 2014 (2014-10-26) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • November 5, 2014 (2014-11-05) (North America)
  • November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time
169 minutes[1]
Country
  • United Kingdom[2]
  • United States[2]
Language English
Budget $165 million[3]
Box office $672.5 million[3]

Interstellar is a 2014 epic science fiction film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. The film features a crew of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity. Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote the screenplay, which had as its origins in a script Jonathan developed in 2007. Christopher Nolan produced the film with his wife, Emma Thomas, and Lynda Obst. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, whose work inspired the film, was an executive producer and acted as scientific consultant.

Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Legendary Pictures co-financed the film, while Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions served as production companies. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on anamorphic 35 mm and IMAX 70 mm photography. Filming commenced in late 2013 in Alberta, Canada; Iceland; and Los Angeles. The film features an extensive use of practical and miniature effects, while Double Negative created additional digital effects.

Interstellar premiered on October 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. In North America, it was released in film stock, expanding to venues using digital projectors. It was successful at the box office and received positive reviews from critics, who gave particular attention to the film's scientific accuracy, musical score, visual effects and performances from Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Mackenzie Foy. At the 87th Academy Awards, the film won the Best Visual Effects award and received four other nominations — Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Production Design, as well as several other awards and nominations particularly for its visual effects, cinematography, and musical score.

Plot[edit]

In the near future, crop blight has caused civilization to regress into a failing agrarian society. Former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) runs a farm with his family. Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper's 10-year-old daughter, believes her room is haunted by a poltergeist trying to communicate with her. They come across a malfunctioning Indian unmanned aerial vehicle that they salvage for spare parts. They soon discover that Murphy's "ghost" is an unknown intelligence sending coded messages using gravitational waves, leaving binary coordinates in the dust that direct them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine). Brand reveals that a wormhole, apparently created by an alien intelligence, has opened near Saturn and leads to new planets in another galaxy that may offer hope for survival. NASA's "Lazarus missions" have identified three potentially habitable worlds orbiting a supermassive black hole named Gargantua: Miller, Edmunds, and Mann, named after the astronauts who surveyed them. Brand recruits Cooper to pilot the spacecraft Endurance to recover the astronauts' data; if one of the planets is habitable, humanity will follow on space stations. Cooper's departure devastates Murphy, and they part on bad terms.

On Endurance, Cooper joins Brand's daughter, biotechnologist Amelia (Anne Hathaway); scientists Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley); and robots TARS and CASE. They travel to Saturn and enter the wormhole, heading to Miller, but they discover that the planet is so close to Gargantua that it experiences severe gravitational time dilation: each hour on the surface is seven years on Earth. A team descends to the planet, which proves inhospitable as it is covered by a shallow ocean roiled by enormous tidal waves. As Amelia attempts to recover Miller's data, a wave hits, killing Doyle and delaying the shuttle's departure. When the others return to Endurance, 23 years have passed.

On Earth, the adult Murphy (Jessica Chastain) is now a NASA scientist helping Brand with an equation that will enable NASA to launch the space stations via gravity. With his last breath, Brand admits he already solved the problem and determined the project is impossible. He concealed his findings to keep hope alive and put his faith in "Plan B": using frozen embryos aboard the Endurance to start humanity anew. However, Murphy concludes that Brand's equation could work with additional data from a black hole's singularity.

Low on fuel, Endurance can only visit one more planet before returning to Earth. After a tense vote, the team selects Mann's planet, as Mann is still transmitting. However, they discover it is perpetually cold, covered with icy glaciers, and inhospitable. Mann (Matt Damon), who always knew Plan B was the mission's true goal, faked data about his planet's viability so Endurance would rescue him. Mann breaks Cooper's spacesuit visor and leaves him to die, and flees to Endurance on a shuttle; Romilly is killed by a bomb Mann set to protect his secret. Amelia rescues Cooper using the other cargo shuttle, and they arrive at Endurance in time to witness Mann docking improperly. The airlock explodes, killing Mann and causing serious damage, but Cooper uses the cargo shuttle to get Endurance under control.

Nearly out of fuel, Cooper and Amelia plan to slingshot Endurance around Gargantua on a course toward Edmunds on the other side of the black hole while many years will pass on Earth. TARS and Cooper detach their shuttles into the black hole, sacrificing themselves to collect data on the singularity and to propel Amelia and CASE by dropping the ship's mass. They emerge in an extra-dimensional "tesseract", where time appears as a spatial dimension and portals show glimpses of Murphy's childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper realizes that the wormhole's creators are future humans transcending time and space, who have constructed the tesseract so he can communicate with Murphy as her "ghost" and save humanity. Using gravitational waves, Cooper encodes TARS's data on the singularity into the adult Murphy's watch, allowing her to solve Brand's equation and launch the space stations.

Once the data is transmitted, the tesseract dissolves and Cooper finds himself traveling through the wormhole, coming into orbit around Saturn. He awakens aboard a NASA space station and reunites with the now elderly Murphy (Ellen Burstyn), who has led humanity's exodus. Satisfied that Cooper has kept his promise to one day come back, Murphy convinces Cooper to search for Amelia, who is implementing Plan B with CASE on Edmunds's desert, hospitable planet. Cooper and TARS, who was also rescued from space, steal a NASA shuttle to travel to Edmunds's Planet.

Cast[edit]

Astronaut crew
On Earth
  • Timothée Chalamet as young Tom
In space

Production[edit]

Development and financing[edit]

The premise for Interstellar was conceived by film producer Lynda Obst and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who collaborated on the 1997 film Contact and had known each other since Carl Sagan once set them up on a blind date.[6][7] Based on Thorne's work, the two conceived a scenario about "the most exotic events in the universe suddenly becoming accessible to humans", and attracted filmmaker Steven Spielberg's interest in directing.[8] The film began development in June 2006, when Spielberg and Paramount Pictures announced plans for a science fiction film based on an eight-page treatment written by Obst and Thorne. Obst was attached to produce the film, which Variety said would "take several years to come together" before Spielberg directed it.[9][10] By March 2007, Jonathan Nolan was hired to write a screenplay for the film, titled Interstellar.[11]

Spielberg moved his production company DreamWorks in 2009 from Paramount to The Walt Disney Company, and Paramount needed a new director for Interstellar. Jonathan Nolan recommended his brother Christopher, who joined the project in 2012.[12] Christopher Nolan met with Kip Thorne, then attached as executive producer, to discuss the use of spacetime in the story.[13] In January 2013, Paramount and Warner Bros. announced that Christopher Nolan was in negotiations to direct Interstellar.[14] Nolan said he wanted to encourage the goal of human spaceflight.[15] He intended to write a screenplay based on his own idea that he would merge with his brother's screenplay.[16] By the following March, Nolan was confirmed to direct Interstellar, which would be produced under his label Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions.[17] The Hollywood Reporter said Nolan will earn a salary of $20 million against 20% of what Interstellar grosses.[18] To research for the film, Nolan visited NASA as well as the private space program SpaceX.[13]

Though Paramount and Warner Bros. are traditionally rival studios, Warner Bros., who released Nolan's Batman films and works with Nolan's Syncopy, sought a stake in Nolan's production of Interstellar for Paramount. Warner Bros. agreed to give Paramount its rights to co-finance the next film in the Friday the 13th horror franchise and to have a stake in a future film based on the TV series South Park. Warner Bros. also agreed to let Paramount co-finance "a to-be-determined A-list Warners property".[19] In August 2013, Legendary Pictures finalized an agreement with Warner Bros. to finance approximately 25 percent of the film's production. Although it failed to renew its eight-year production partnership with Warner Bros., Legendary reportedly agreed to forego financing for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in exchange for the stake in Interstellar.[20]

Writing[edit]

Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan was hired by Spielberg to write a script for Interstellar, and he worked on it for four years.[6] To learn the science, he studied relativity at the California Institute of Technology while writing the script.[21] Jonathan said he was pessimistic about the Space Shuttle program ending and how NASA lacked financing for a manned mission to Mars. The screenwriter found inspiration in science fiction films with apocalyptic themes, such as WALL-E (2008) and Avatar (2009). Entertainment Weekly has commented: "He set the story in a dystopian future ravaged by blight but populated with hardy folk who refuse to bow to despair."[12] Jonathan's brother, director Christopher Nolan, had worked on other science fiction scripts but decided to take the Interstellar script and choose amongst the vast array of ideas presented by Jonathan and Kip Thorne, picking what he felt he as a director could get "across to the audience and hopefully not lose them", before he merged it with a script he had been working on for years on his own.[22][23] Christopher kept in place Jonathan's conception of the first hour, which is set on a resource-depleted Earth in the near future. The setting was inspired by the Dust Bowl that took place in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Christopher instead revised the rest of the script, in which a team travels into space.[6] After watching the 2012 documentary The Dust Bowl for inspiration, Christopher contacted director Ken Burns and producer Dayton Duncan, requesting permission to use some of their featured interviews in Interstellar.[24]

Casting[edit]

Director Christopher Nolan said he became interested in casting Matthew McConaughey after seeing him in an early cut of the 2012 film Mud,[25] which he had an opportunity to see since he was friends with one of its producers, Aaron Ryder.[6] While McConaughey was in New Orleans, Louisiana, filming for the TV series True Detective, Nolan invited the actor to visit him at his home. Anne Hathaway was also invited to Nolan's home, where she read the script for Interstellar.[26] Paramount announced in April 2013 that both actors were cast in the film's starring roles.[27] Nolan called McConaughey's character an everyman with whom "the audience could experience the story".[28] Jessica Chastain was contacted while she was filming Miss Julie in Northern Ireland, and a script was delivered to her.[26] Matt Damon was cast in late August 2013 in a supporting role and filmed his scenes in Iceland.[5]

Filming[edit]

Nolan filmed Interstellar with anamorphic 35mm and IMAX film photography.[4] Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema was hired for Interstellar, as Wally Pfister, Nolan's cinematographer on all of his past films, was working on his directorial debut, Transcendence.[29] IMAX cameras were used for Interstellar more than for any of Nolan's previous films. To minimize the use of computer-generated imagery, the director had practical locations built, such as the interior of a space shuttle.[25] Van Hoytema retooled an IMAX camera to be handheld for shooting interior scenes.[6] Some of the film's sequences were shot with an IMAX camera installed in the nosecone of a Learjet.[30]

Nolan, who is known to keep details of his productions secret, strove to ensure secrecy for Interstellar. The Wall Street Journal reported: "The famously secretive filmmaker has gone to extreme lengths to guard the script to ... Interstellar, just as he did with the blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy."[31] As one security measure, Interstellar was filmed under the name Flora's Letter,[32] Flora being one of Nolan's four children with producer Emma Thomas.[13]

The Svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland was used as a filming location for Interstellar, doubling for Mann's planet.

The film's principal photography was scheduled to last for four months.[5] It began on August 6, 2013, in the province of Alberta, Canada.[20] Towns in Alberta where filming took place included Nanton, Longview, Lethbridge, and Okotoks. In Okotoks, filming took place at the Seaman Stadium and the Olde Town Plaza.[32] For a cornfield scene, production designer Nathan Crowley planted 500 acres of corn that would be destroyed in an apocalyptic dust storm scene,[12] intended to be similar to storms experienced during the Dust Bowl in 1930s United States.[13] Additional scenes involving the dust storm and McConaughey's character were also filmed in Fort Macleod, where the giant dust clouds were created on location using large fans to blow cellulose-based synthetic dust through the air.[33] Filming in the province lasted until September 9, 2013, and involved hundreds of extras as well as approximately 130 crew members, most of them local.[32]

Filming also took place in Iceland, where Nolan had previously filmed scenes for his 2005 film Batman Begins.[34] The crew transported mock spaceships weighing approximately 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) to the country,[13] which was chosen to represent two extraterrestrial planets: one covered in ice, and one covered in water.[6] A two-week Iceland shoot was scheduled[5] and a crew of approximately 350 people, including 130 locals, worked on it. Locations included the Svínafellsjökull glacier and the town of Klaustur.[35][36] While filming a water scene in Iceland, actress Anne Hathaway almost suffered hypothermia because the dry suit she was wearing had not been properly secured.[13]

After the Iceland shoot, the crew moved to Los Angeles to film for 54 days. Filming in California was relatively unusual since California's tax credit was not available for films with a budget greater than $75 million. Filming locations included the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, the Los Angeles Convention Center, a Sony Pictures soundstage in Culver City, and a private residence in Altadena.[37] Filming concluded in December 2013, and Nolan started editing the film for its release in 2014.[38] Production completed with a budget of $165 million, $10 million less than what was allotted by Paramount, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures.[13]

Production design[edit]

The Endurance spacecraft (left) is based on the International Space Station (right).

Interstellar features three spacecraft: the Ranger, the Endurance, and the Lander. The Ranger's function is similar to the Space Shuttle's, being able to enter and exit planetary atmospheres. The Endurance, the crew's mother ship, has a circular structure formed by 12 capsules: four with planetary colonization equipment, four with engines, and four with the permanent functions of cockpit, medical labs and habitation. Production designer Nathan Crowley said the Endurance was based on the International Space Station: "It's a real mish-mash of different kinds of technology. You need analogue stuff as well as digital stuff, you need back-up systems and tangible switches. It's really like a submarine in space. Every inch of space is used, everything has a purpose." Lastly, the Lander transports the capsules with colonization equipment to planetary surfaces. Crowley compared it to "a heavy Russian helicopter".[6]

The film also features two robots, CASE and TARS. Nolan wanted to avoid making the robots anthropomorphic and chose a five-foot quadrilateral design. The director said: "It has a very complicated design philosophy. It's based on mathematics. You've got four main blocks and they can be joined in three ways. So you have three combinations you follow. But then within that, it subdivides into a further three joints. And all the places we see lines—those can subdivide further. So you can unfold a finger, essentially, but it's all proportional." Actor Bill Irwin voiced and physically controlled both robots, but his image was digitally removed from the film and his voicing for CASE was replaced.[6]

Sound design and music[edit]

Gregg Landaker and Gary Rizzo were sound engineers for the film, tasked with sound mixing, while sound editor Richard King supervised the process.[39] Christopher Nolan said he sought to mix the film's sound to take maximum advantage of current sound equipment in theaters.[40] Nolan paid close attention to designing the sound mix, for instance focusing on what buttons being pressed with astronaut-suit gloves would sound like.[12] The studio's website said that "The sound on Interstellar has been specially mixed to maximize the power of the low end frequencies in the main channels as well as in the subwoofer channel."[41] Nolan deliberately intended some dialogue to seem drowned out by ambient noise or music, causing some theaters to post notices emphasising that this effect was intentional and not a fault in their equipment.[42]

Composer Hans Zimmer, who scored Nolan's Batman film trilogy & Inception, also scored Interstellar. Zimmer and Nolan strived to develop a unique sound for Interstellar. Zimmer said: "The textures, the music, and the sounds, and the thing we sort of created has sort of seeped into other people's movies a bit, so it's time to reinvent. The endless string (ostinatos) need to go by the wayside, the big drums are probably in the bin."[43] Zimmer also said that Nolan did not provide him a script or any plot details for writing music for the film and instead gave the composer "one page of text" that "had more to do with [Zimmer's] story than the plot of the movie".[44] Nolan has stated that he said to Zimmer: "I am going to give you an envelope with a letter in it. One page. It's going to tell you the fable at the center of the story. You work for one day, then play me what you have written", and that he embraced what Zimmer composed. Zimmer conducted 45 scoring sessions for Interstellar, which was three times more than for Inception. The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2014.[12]

Visual effects[edit]

The visual effects company Double Negative, which developed effects for Nolan's 2010 film Inception, worked on Interstellar.[45] Visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin said the number of effects in the film was not much greater than in Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises or Inception, but that for Interstellar, they created the effects first, so that digital projectors could be used to display them behind the actors, rather than having the actors perform in front of green screens.[6] Ultimately the film contained 850 visual effect shots at a resolution of 5600 x 4000 lines: 150 shots that were created in camera using digital projectors, and another 700 were created in post production. Of those, 620 were presented in IMAX, while the rest were anamorphic.[46]

The Ranger, Endurance, and Lander spacecraft were created using miniature effects by production designer Nathan Crowley in collaboration with effects company New Deal Studios, as opposed to using computer generated imagery, as Nolan felt they offered the best way to give the ships a tangible presence in space. Created through a combination of 3D printing and hand sculpting, the scale models earned the nickname "maxatures" by the crew due to their immense size; the 1/15th scale miniature of the Endurance module spanned over 7.6 m (25 feet), while a pyrotechnic model of a portion of the craft was built at 1/5th scale. The Ranger and Lander miniatures spanned 14 m (46 feet) and over 15 m (50 feet), respectively. The miniatures were large enough for Hoyte van Hoytema to mount IMAX cameras directly onto the spacecraft, thus mimicking the look of NASA IMAX documentaries. The models were then attached to a six-axis gimbal on a motion control system that allowed an operator to manipulate their movements, which were filmed against background plates of space using VistaVision cameras on a smaller motion control rig.[47] New Deal Studio's miniatures were used in 150 special effects shots.[46]

Influences[edit]

Director Christopher Nolan said influences on Interstellar included the "key touchstones" of science fiction cinema: Metropolis (1927), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Blade Runner (1982).[48] About 2001, Nolan said: "The movies you grow up with, the culture you absorb through the decades, become part of your expectations while watching a film. So you can't make any film in a vacuum. We're making a science-fiction film... You can't pretend 2001 doesn't exist when you're making Interstellar." He also said that Star Wars (1977) and Alien (1979) influenced Interstellar '​s production design: "Those always stuck in my head as being how you need to approach science-fiction. It has to feel used—as used and as real as the world we live in."[49] Andrei Tarkovsky's The Mirror (1975) influenced "elemental things in the story to do with wind and dust and water".[50]

Nolan compared Interstellar to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), as a film about human nature.[51] He also sought to emulate films like Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). He stated: "When you say you're making a family film, it has all these pejorative connotations that it'll be somehow soft. But when I was a kid, these were family films in the best sense, and they were as edgy and incisive and challenging as anything else on the blockbuster spectrum. I wanted to bring that back in some way." He also cited the space drama The Right Stuff (1983) as an example to follow, and screened it for the crew before production.[6] To emulate that film, he sought to capture reflection on the Interstellar astronauts' visors. For further inspiration grounded in real-world space travel, the director also invited former astronaut Marsha Ivins to the set.[13] Nolan and his crew studied the IMAX NASA documentaries of filmmaker Toni Myers for visual reference of spacefaring missions, and sought to emulate the look of their use of IMAX cameras in the enclosed spaces of a spacecraft interior.[52]

The setting of the farm in the Midwest was inspired by Clark Kent's upbringing in Man of Steel.[53] Outside of films, Nolan drew inspiration from the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.[13]

Scientific accuracy[edit]

Kip Thorne, theoretical physicist, served as consultant and executive producer.

Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne was a scientific consultant for the film, to ensure the depictions of wormholes and relativity were as accurate as possible. "For the depictions of the wormholes and the black hole," he said, "we discussed how to go about it, and then I worked out the equations that would enable tracing of light rays as they traveled through a wormhole or around a black hole—so what you see is based on Einstein's general relativity equations."[54]

In creating the wormhole and a supermassive rotating black hole (which possesses an ergosphere, as opposed to a non-rotating black hole), Thorne collaborated with visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin and a team of 30 computer effects artists at Double Negative. Thorne would provide pages of deeply sourced theoretical equations to the artists, who then wrote new CGI rendering software based on these equations to create accurate computer simulations of the gravitational lensing caused by these phenomena. Some individual frames took up to 100 hours to render, and resulted in 800 terabytes of data. The resulting visual effect provided Thorne with new insight into the effects of gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes, and will lead to the creation of two scientific papers, one for the astrophysics community and one for the computer graphics community.[55]

Christopher Nolan was initially concerned that a scientifically accurate depiction of a black hole would not be visually comprehensible to an audience and would require the effects team to unrealistically alter its appearance. However, Nolan found the finished effect to be understandable, provided that he maintained consistent camera perspectives. "What we found was as long as we didn't change the point of view too much, the camera position, we could get something very understandable".[56]

The portrayal of what a wormhole would look like is considered scientifically correct. Rather than a two-dimensional hole in space, it is depicted as a sphere, showing a distorted view of the target galaxy.[57] The accretion disk of the black hole was described by Thorne as "anemic and at low temperature—about the temperature of the surface of the sun," allowing it to emit appreciable light, but not enough gamma radiation and X-rays to threaten nearby astronauts and planets.[58]

Computer image of the supermassive black hole "Gargantua". This simulation is approximately what a person would see in reality of a nearby black hole made from equations of general relativity for the film.

Early in the process, Thorne laid down two guidelines: "First, that nothing would violate established physical laws. Second, that all the wild speculations... would spring from science and not from the fertile mind of a screenwriter."[10] Nolan accepted these terms as long as they did not get in the way of the making of the movie. At one point, Thorne spent two weeks trying to talk Nolan out of an idea about a character traveling faster than light before Nolan finally gave up.[10][59] According to Thorne, the element which has the highest degree of artistic freedom is the clouds of ice on one of the planets they visit, which are structures that probably go beyond the material strength that ice would be able to support.[10]

Astrobiologist David Grinspoon points out that even with a voracious blight it would have taken millions of years to draw down the atmosphere's content of oxygen. He also notes that the ice clouds should have been pulled down by gravity and the planet orbiting the black hole had sunlight in the film when it should not.[60] However, as Thorne mentioned above, this kind of rotating black hole has an accretion disk that has a temperature similar to that of the sun, so that the emission of light reaching the planet is likely due to such an energetic/radiating accretion disk of matter approaching the black hole's event horizon. Additionally, a neutron star is mentioned in the movie by Cooper as part of the system.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has explored the science behind the ending of Interstellar.[61]

Dr. Michio Kaku praised the film for its scientific accuracy and has said Interstellar "could set the gold standard for science fiction movies for years to come." Likewise, Timothy Reyes, a former NASA software engineer, said, "Thorne's and Nolan's accounting of black holes and wormholes and the use of gravity is excellent."[62]

Lawrence Krauss has called the science in Interstellar "miserable", and used the blight as an example.[63]

Marketing[edit]

The teaser trailer for Interstellar debuted December 14, 2013 and featured clips related to space exploration, accompanied by a voiceover by Matthew McConaughey's character of Cooper.[64] The theatrical trailer debuted May 5, 2014 at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater and was made available online later that month. For the week ending May 19 it was the most-viewed movie trailer, with over 19.5 million views on YouTube.[65]

Christopher Nolan and McConaughey made their first appearances at Comic-Con in July 2014 to promote Interstellar. In the same month, Paramount Pictures launched a complex interactive Interstellar website. It reported that online users uncovered a star chart related to the Apollo 11 moon landing.[66]

In October 2014, Paramount partnered with Google to promote Interstellar across multiple platforms.[67] The film's website was relaunched to be a digital hub hosted on a Google domain.[68] The website collected feedback from film audiences, and linked to a mobile app.[68] The app featured a game in which players could build solar system models and use a flight simulator for space travel.[69] The Paramount-Google partnership also included a virtual time capsule compiled with user-generated content to be available in 2015. The initiative Google for Education will also use the film as a basis for promoting lesson plans for math science in schools around the United States.[67]

Paramount is providing a virtual reality walkthrough of the Endurance spacecraft using Oculus Rift technology. It hosted the walkthrough sequentially in four theaters, in New York City, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., from October 6 through November 19, 2014.[70][71] The publisher Running Press released Interstellar: Beyond Time and Space, a book by Mark Cotta Vaz about the making of the film, on November 11, 2014.[72] On November 7, 2014, W. W. Norton & Company released The Science of Interstellar, a book by Kip Thorne.[73]

On November 18, 2014 Wired released a tie-in online comic titled Absolute Zero, written by Christopher Nolan and drawn by Sean Gordon Murphy. The comic serves as a prequel to the film following Mann.[74]

Release[edit]

Theatrical run[edit]

Prior to Interstellar '​s public release, Paramount CEO Brad Grey hosted a private screening on October 19, 2014 at an IMAX theater in Lincoln Square, Manhattan.[75] Paramount then showed Interstellar to some of the industry's filmmakers and actors in a first-look screening at the California Science Center on October 22, 2014.[76] On the following day, the film was screened at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California for over 900 members of the Screen Actors Guild. Actors McConaughey, Chastain, and Hathaway appeared afterward for a Q&A session.[77] The film officially premiered on October 26, 2014 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los, Angeles, California.[78] It premiered in Europe on October 29, 2014 at Leicester Square in London.[79]

Interstellar was released early on November 4 in various 70mm IMAX film, 70mm film and 35mm film theaters and had a limited release in North America (United States and Canada) on November 5, 2014 and a wide release on November 7, 2014.[80] The film was released in Belgium, France, and Switzerland on November 5, 2014 and in additional territories in the following days, including the United Kingdom on November 7, 2014.[81] For the limited North America release, Interstellar is projected from 70 mm and 35 mm film in 249 theaters that still support those formats, including at least 41 70 mm IMAX theaters.[nb 1] A 70 mm IMAX projector was installed at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California to display the format. The film's wide release expanded to theaters that show it digitally.[82] Paramount Pictures is distributing the film in North America, and Warner Bros. will distribute it in the remaining territories.[4] The film was expected to be released in over 770 IMAX screens worldwide, which would have been the widest global release in IMAX cinemas.[83][84] However, the film was released to only 574 IMAX theaters worldwide.[85]

Interstellar is an exception to Paramount Pictures' goal to stop releasing films on film stock and to distribute them only in digital format.[86] According to Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter, the initiative to project Interstellar from film would help preserve an endangered format,[82] an initiative supported by Christopher Nolan, J. J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow, Paul Thomas Anderson, and other filmmakers.[87] McClintock reported that several theater owners saw the initiative as "backward", as nearly all theaters in the United States have been converted to digital projection.[88]

Box office[edit]

As of February 26, 2015, Interstellar has earned $187,642,651 in North America and $484,700,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $672,342,651, against a production budget of $165 million.[3] The film set an IMAX opening record worldwide with $20.5 million from 574 IMAX theaters, surpassing the $17.1 million record held by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and is also the best opening for an IMAX 2D, non-sequel and November IMAX release.[85] The film had a worldwide opening of $132.6 million which is the tenth largest opening of 2014.[89] It reached a milestone of $200 million in 6 days, $300 million in 10 days,[90] $400 million in 17 days[91] $500 million in 24 days[92] and $600 million in 37 days.[93] It is the tenth highest-grossing film of 2014.[94] Interstellar is the fourth film to gross over $100 million worldwide from IMAX ticket sales. It trails Avatar, The Dark Knight Rises and Gravity in total IMAX box office revenue.[95][96][97]

North America[edit]

Interstellar and Big Hero 6 opened the same weekend (November 7–9, 2014) in North America. Both were forecast to earn between $55 million and $60 million. TheWrap said the pairing was "potentially a close race". Scott Mendelson of Forbes called the race between the two films a "tight one" and compared it to competitions between Shrek 2 and The Day After Tomorrow as well as Monsters University and World War Z.[98] Fandango reported that pre-sales for Interstellar were outpacing Christopher Nolan's earlier film Inception, as well as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, released earlier in 2014.

In North America, the film is the 10th highest-grossing film that never hit #1, with a top rank of #2 its opening week.[99] Interstellar had an early limited release in the United States and Canada in selected theatres on November 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm, coinciding with the 2014 US midterm elections.[100] The film topped the box office the following day on Wednesday earning $1.35 million (which includes its gross from Tuesday night) from 249 theatres (42 of which were IMAX screens) for which IMAX accounted for 62% of its total gross.[101] 240 of those theatres played in 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm film formats.[102] The film earned $3.6 million from Thursday late night preview for a previews total of $4.9 million (Tuesday — Thursday).[103][104][105] The film was widely released on November 7 and topped the box office on its opening day earning $17 million (which includes the Thursday preview haul but not the Tuesday-Wednesday gross which would make up to $19.15 million) ahead of Big Hero 6 ($15.8 million).[106] The film played 52% male and 75% over 25 years old.[107]

In its opening weekend the film earned $47,510,360[nb 2] from 3,561 theatres ($13,342 per theatre) debuting in second place after a neck-and-neck competition with Disney's Big Hero 6 ($56.2 million).[109][110][111] IMAX comprised $13.2 million (28%) of its opening weekend gross,[112] while other premium large format screens comprised $5.25 million (10.5%) of the gross. It is Nolan's first film to not debut at number one since 2002, when Insomnia debuted at number two.[113][114] Commenting about the heat of competition between the two films and their subsequent results, Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com said, "It's good for the marketplace". He added: "The programming this weekend was very intelligent, and we didn't have a lot of that this year. Neither movie hurt the other one. They were both operating in separate camps and they both found an audience."[115] In its second weekend the film fell to number three behind old rival Big Hero 6 and newcomer Dumb and Dumber To and dropped 39% earning $29.12 million for a two weekend total of $97.8 million.[116][117] It earned $7.4 million from IMAX theatres from 368 screens in its second weekend.[118][119] In its third week, the film earned $15.1 million and remained at #3, below newcomer The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Big Hero 6.[120]

Other territories[edit]

Interstellar was released in 35 markets on November 6 including major markets like Germany, Russia, Australia and Brazil and earned $8.7 million in total.[121] In its opening weekend Interstellar earned $82.9 million from 11.1 admissions on over 14,800 screens in 62 markets.[122] It earned $7.3 million from 206 IMAX screens, at an average of 35,400 per theatre.[123] The film went number one in South Korea ($14.4 million),[124] Russia ($8.9 million) and France ($5.3 million). Other high openings include Germany ($4.6 million), Italy ($3.7 million), Australia ($3.7 million), Spain ($2.7 million), Mexico ($3.1 million) and Brazil ($1.9 million).[125] In the United Kingdom the film debuted at number one earning £5.37 million ($8.6 million) in its opening weekend which was lower than the openings of The Dark Knight Rises (£14.36 million), Gravity (£6.24 million) and Inception (£5.91 million).[126] Interstellar was released in China on November 12 and earned $5.4 million on its opening day on Wednesday which is Nolan's biggest opening in China surpassing the $4.61 million opening record of The Dark Knight Rises.[127][128] It went on to earn $41.7 million in its opening weekend, accounting 55% of the market shares.[129][130] It is Nolan's biggest opening in China, Warner Bros' biggest 2D opening[131] and the studio's third biggest opening of all time behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ($49.5 million)[132] and Pacific Rim ($45.2 million).[133][134]

It topped the box office outside of North America for two consecutive weekends before being overtaken by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 in its third weekend.[131] 31 days after its release, the film became the 13th most successful film and 3rd most successful foreign film in South Korea with 9.1 million admissions trailing only behind Avatar (13.3 million admissions) and Frozen (10.3 million admissions).[135] The film closed down its theatrical run in China on December 12, 2014 (on Friday, 31 days after its initial release) with a total revenue of $122.6 million.[93][136]

Critical response[edit]

Interstellar received generally positive reviews from critics. It has a score of 72% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 281 reviews, with a rating average of 7 out of 10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent film-making moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp."[137] On Metacritic, another review aggregator, the film has a score of 74 out of 100 on based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[138]

Scott Foundas, chief film critic at Variety, said that Interstellar is "as visually and conceptually audacious as anything Nolan has yet done" and considered the film more personal than Nolan's previous films.[139] Claudia Puig of USA Today praised the visual spectacle and powerful themes, while criticizing the "dull" dialogue and "tedious patches inside the space vessel".[140] David Stratton of At the Movies rated the film four and a half stars out of five, praising the film's ambition, effects and 70mm IMAX presentation, though criticizing the sound for being so loud as to make some of the dialogue inaudible. Conversely, cohost Margaret Pomeranz rated the film three out of five, as she felt the human drama got lost amongst the film's scientific concepts.[141] Henry Barnes of The Guardian scored the film three out of five stars, calling it "a glorious spectacle, but a slight drama, with few characters and too-rare flashes of humour."[142]

Oliver Gettell, writing for Los Angeles Times, reported that "Film critics largely agree that Interstellar is an entertaining, emotional and thought-provoking sci-fi saga, even if it can also be clunky and sentimental at times."[143] James Dyer, reviewing the film for Empire, awarded the film a full five stars, describing it as "Brainy, barmy and beautiful to behold ... a mind-bending opera of space and time with a soul wrapped up in all the science."[144] Dave Calhoun of Time Out London also granted the film a maximum score of five stars, stating that it is "a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike".[145] New York Post critic Lou Lumenick deemed Interstellar "a soulful, must-see masterpiece, one of the most exhilarating film experiences so far this century."[146] Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a full four stars and wrote, "This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen — in terms of its visuals, and its overriding message about the powerful forces of the one thing we all know but can't measure in scientific terms. Love."[147]

Describing Nolan as a "merchant of awe", Tim Robey of The Telegraph felt Interstellar was "agonisingly" close to a masterpiece, highlighting the conceptual boldness and the "deep-digging intelligence" of the film.[148] Todd McCarthy, reviewing for The Hollywood Reporter, said, "This grandly conceived and executed epic tries to give equal weight to intimate human emotions and speculation about the cosmos, with mixed results, but is never less than engrossing, and sometimes more than that."[149] In his review for The Associated Press, Jake Coyle praised the film for its "big-screen grandeur", while finding some of the dialogue "clunky". He further described it as "an absurd endeavor" and "one of the most sublime movies of the decade".[150] Scott Mendelson of Forbes listed Interstellar as one of the most disappointing films of 2014, stating that the film has a lack of flow, loss of momentum following the climax, clumsy sound mixing, and "thin characters" despite seeing the film twice in order to "give it a second chance". Mendelson writes that Interstellar "ends up as a stripped-down and somewhat muted variation on any number of 'go into space to save the world' movies."[151]

New York Times columnist David Brooks concludes that Interstellar explores the relationships among "science and faith and science and the humanities" and "illustrates the real symbiosis between these realms."[152] Wai Chee Dimock, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, writes that Nolan's films are "rotatable at 90, 180, and 360 degrees," and that "although there is considerable magical thinking here, making it almost an anti-sci-fi film, holding out hope that the end of the planet is not the end of everything, it reverses itself, however, when that magic falls short, when the poetic license is naked and plain for all to see. In those moments, it suddenly dawns upon us that the ocean that rises up 90 degrees and comes at us like a wall is not just a special effect on some faraway planet, but a scenario all too close to home."[153][full citation needed]

Home media[edit]

Interstellar will be released on home video on March 30, 2015 in the United Kingdom.[154] It will be released on home video on March 31, 2015 in the United States.[155]

Accolades[edit]

Interstellar was nominated for Original Score for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, contending with six other films. The advisory board received a five-minute trailer for the film that included Hans Zimmer's music.[156]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The sequences shot on 65 mm IMAX film are displayed in their full 1.43:1 aspect ratio on 70 mm IMAX screens (the 5 mm difference is due to the addition of the audio track on the film print), but are cropped down to as large as 1.9:1 on digital IMAX screens, down to 2.20:1 on regular 70 mm screens, and down to 2.35:1 to match the 35 mm anamorphic footage on 35 mm film and all other digital screenings.
  2. ^ The opening weekend gross does not include the revenue it earned from Tuesday and Wednesday night previews. In total the film earned $2,151,453 from the two late night showings which would bring its opening weekend gross to $49,661,813.[108]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]