Interstellar (film)

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Interstellar
A ringed spacecraft near a wormhole, here depicted as a massive 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 date
  • October 26, 2014 (2014-10-26) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • November 5, 2014 (2014-11-05) (United States)
  • 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 $675 million[3]

Interstellar is a 2014 epic science fiction film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine. In the film, a crew of astronauts travels through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity. Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote the screenplay, which has its origins in a script Jonathan developed in 2007. Nolan produced the film with his wife Emma Thomas through their production company Syncopy and with Lynda Obst through Lynda Obst Productions. Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, whose work inspired the film, was an executive producer and acted as scientific consultant. Later, he also wrote a tie-in book, The Science of Interstellar. Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Legendary Pictures co-financed the film.

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on 35 mm (in anamorphic format) and IMAX 70 mm. Principal photography commenced in late 2013 in Alberta, Iceland and Los Angeles. The film utilized extensive practical and miniature effects, while Double Negative created additional digital effects.

Interstellar premiered on October 26, 2014 in Los Angeles. In the United States, it was released on film stock, expanding to venues using digital projectors. The film was successful at the box office with a worldwide gross of over $675 million and received positive reviews from critics, who gave particular praise to the film's science fiction themes, Hans Zimmer's musical score, the visual effects, and the performances of McConaughey, Hathaway, Chastain, Caine, Damon, Bill Irwin, and Mackenzie Foy. It received several awards and nominations. At the 87th Academy Awards the film won the Best Visual Effects award and was nominated for Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design.

Plot[edit]

Sometime in the 21st century, crop blight on Earth has made farming increasingly difficult and threatens humanity's survival. Joseph Cooper, a widowed former engineer and NASA pilot, runs a farm with his father-in-law Donald, son Tom, and daughter Murphy, who believes her bedroom is haunted by a poltergeist. When a pattern is created out of dust on the floor, Cooper realizes that gravity is behind its formation, not a "ghost". He interprets the pattern as a set of geographic coordinates formed into binary code. Cooper and Murphy follow the coordinates to a secret NASA facility, where they are met by Cooper's former professor, Dr. Brand.

Brand reveals that a wormhole mysteriously appeared near Saturn 48 years earlier, opening a pathway to a distant galaxy with potentially-habitable planets. Twelve volunteers travelled through it to assess each planet's suitability as humanity's new home, led by Dr. Mann. Volunteers Miller, Edmunds, and Mann have sent back encouraging data from planets near a black hole called Gargantua. Brand recruits Cooper to pilot the spaceship Endurance to investigate further, while he works on "Plan A" – a gravitational theory for propulsion that would allow an exodus from Earth. The Endurance also carries 5,000 frozen embryos for the "Plan B" backup plan, which is to colonize a habitable planet to ensure humanity's survival. Cooper agrees to go, upsetting Murphy.

Cooper's crew consists of scientists Romilly, Doyle, Brand's daughter Amelia, and robots TARS and CASE. Traversing the wormhole, they head to Miller's planet, an ocean world where time is severely dilated because of its proximity to Gargantua; for each hour there, seven years pass on Earth. They find only the wreckage from Miller's expedition. Amelia retrieves Miller's data just before a gigantic wave hits, killing Doyle and water-logging the engines. After returning to Endurance, they discover 23 years have elapsed on Earth.

Murphy, now an adult, has been assisting Dr. Brand with his research. On his deathbed, he admits to her that Plan A was not feasible – he has known since Endurance departed. He reveals that Plan B was the only plan all along. In a recorded video session Murphy notifies Amelia of her father's death, accusing her and Cooper of abandoning Earth. Believing the equations can be solved, she continues working on a solution to Plan A knowing she needs more data on gravitational singularities.

With limited fuel, the crew chooses Mann's planet over Edmunds' as the next stop, since Mann is still transmitting. They have to wake Mann from his sleep. Once there, Mann assures the crew that the frozen planet is habitable despite its ammonia-laden atmosphere. While surveying the planet, Mann attempts to kill Cooper, revealing that he falsified the data he'd transmitted in hopes of being rescued. He steals Cooper's ranger and heads for Endurance. Meanwhile, Romilly is killed by a booby trap set by Mann. Amelia rescues Cooper, and they race to Endurance in a second lander, where Mann is attempting a dangerous manual docking operation. Mann ignores Cooper's warnings and perishes in the attempt, severely damaging the Endurance in the process. Cooper uses the lander to stabilize the ship.

CASE warns Cooper that Endurance is slipping toward Gargantua's pull. Cooper makes a quick decision to use Gargantua as a gravitational slingshot to propel the ship toward Edmunds' planet, but their proximity to Gargantua means more time will elapse on Earth. To shed weight, Cooper and TARS jettison themselves toward the black hole, so that Amelia and CASE can complete the journey. Slipping past the event horizon, Cooper and TARS find themselves inside a tesseract, which resembles a stream of bookshelves capable of peering into Murphy's bedroom at different periods in her life. Cooper surmises that the tesseract and wormhole were created to enable communication with Murphy, and that he was her "ghost" all along. Using the second-hand on the watch he gave her before he left, Cooper relays the quantum data Murphy needs. Murphy realizes this as well, and uses the data to solve the gravitational equation.

Following a turbulent ejection, Cooper awakens in a space habitat orbiting Saturn. He reunites with an aged Murphy, who is nearing death. At Murphy's request, Cooper and TARS leave to rejoin a still young Amelia on Edmunds' habitable planet, where she and CASE are preparing a new human colony.

Cast[edit]

Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star as Joseph "Coop" Cooper and Dr. Amelia Brand, respectively.

Production[edit]

Crew[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 film Contact (1997) and had known each other since Carl Sagan set them up on a blind date.[4][5] The two conceived of a scenario, based on Thorne's work, about "the most exotic events in the universe suddenly becoming accessible to humans", and attracted filmmaker Steven Spielberg's interest in directing.[6] 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.[7][8] By March 2007, Jonathan Nolan was hired to write a screenplay for the film, titled Interstellar.[9]

Spielberg moved his production studio DreamWorks in 2009, from Paramount to Walt Disney Studios, and Paramount needed a new director for Interstellar. Jonathan Nolan recommended his brother Christopher, who joined the project in 2012.[10] Christopher Nolan met with Kip Thorne, then attached as executive producer, to discuss the use of spacetime in the story.[11] In January 2013, Paramount and Warner Bros. announced that Christopher Nolan was in negotiations to direct Interstellar.[12] Nolan said he wanted to encourage the goal of human spaceflight.[13] He intended to write a screenplay based on his own idea that he would merge with his brother's screenplay.[14] By the following March, Nolan was confirmed to direct Interstellar, which would be produced under his label Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions.[15] The Hollywood Reporter said Nolan will earn a salary of $20 million against 20% of what Interstellar grosses; a final total of approximately $121 million.[16] To research for the film, Nolan visited NASA as well as the private space program at SpaceX.[11]

Though Paramount and Warner Bros. are traditionally rival studios, Warner Bros., which 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".[17] 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.[18]

Writing and casting[edit]

Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan was hired by Spielberg to write a script for Interstellar, and he worked on it for four years.[4] To learn the science, he studied relativity at the California Institute of Technology while writing the script.[19] 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."[10] 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.[11][20] 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.[4] 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.[21]

Christopher Nolan wanted an actor who could bring to life the vision of Coop being an everyman character with whom "the audience could experience the story".[22] Nolan said he became interested in casting Matthew McConaughey after seeing him in an early cut of the 2012 film Mud,[22] which he had an opportunity to see since he was friends with one of its producers, Aaron Ryder.[4] Nolan went to visit McConaughey while he was filming for the TV series True Detective.[23]

Anne Hathaway was invited to Nolan's home, where she read the script for Interstellar.[24] Paramount announced in April 2013 that both actors were cast in the film's starring roles.[25] Jessica Chastain was contacted while she was filming Miss Julie in Northern Ireland, and a script was delivered to her.[24] Matt Damon was cast in late August 2013 in a supporting role and filmed his scenes in Iceland.[26]

Filming[edit]

Nolan filmed Interstellar with anamorphic 35 mm and IMAX 70 mm photography.[27] 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.[28] 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.[22] Van Hoytema retooled an IMAX camera to be handheld for shooting interior scenes.[4] Some of the film's sequences were shot with an IMAX camera installed in the nosecone of a Learjet.[29]

Nolan, who is known for keeping 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."[30] As one security measure, Interstellar was filmed under the name Flora's Letter,[31] Flora being one of Nolan's four children with producer Emma Thomas.[11]

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.[26] It began on August 6, 2013, in the province of Alberta.[18] Towns in Alberta where filming took place included Nanton, Longview, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and Okotoks. In Okotoks, filming took place at the Seaman Stadium and the Olde Town Plaza.[31] For a cornfield scene, production designer Nathan Crowley planted 500 acres of corn (50°24′24″N 114°12′15″W / 50.406661°N 114.204139°W / 50.406661; -114.204139) that would be destroyed in an apocalyptic dust storm scene,[10] intended to be similar to storms experienced during the Dust Bowl in 1930s United States.[11] 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.[32] Filming in the province lasted till September 9, 2013, and involved hundreds of extras as well as approximately 130 crew members, most of them local.[31]

Filming also took place in Iceland, where Nolan had previously filmed scenes for his 2005 film Batman Begins.[33] The crew transported mock spaceships weighing approximately 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) to the country,[11] which was chosen to represent two extraterrestrial planets: one covered in ice, and the other covered in water.[4] A two-week Iceland shoot was scheduled,[26] and a crew of approximately 350 people, including 130 locals, worked on it. Locations included the Svínafellsjökull glacier and the town of Klaustur.[34][35] 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.[11]

After the Iceland shoot, the crew moved to Los Angeles to film for 54 days. 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.[36] Filming concluded in December 2013, and Nolan started editing the film for its release in 2014.[37] Production completed with a budget of $165 million, $10 million less than what was allotted by Paramount, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures.[11]

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".[4]

The film also features two robots, CASE and TARS, and a dismantled third robot, KIPP. 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 with actor Josh Stewart's voice.[4]

The human space habitats resemble O'Neill cylinders, a theoretical space colony model proposed by physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in 1976.[38]

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.[10] 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 and 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.[10]

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.[4] 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] Both films end with parents and children being reunited with seemingly impossible age differences.

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.[4] 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.[11] 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.[20] Outside of films, Nolan drew inspiration from the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.[11]

Scientific accuracy[edit]

Kip Thorne, theoretical physicist, served as scientific 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 on 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."[53]

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."[8] Nolan accepted these terms as long as they did not get in the way of making 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.[8][54] 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.[8]

Astrobiologist David Grinspoon criticized the dire "blight" situation on Earth portrayed in early scenes, pointing 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.[55]

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has explored the science behind the ending of Interstellar. He concludes that it is theoretically possible to interact with the past, and that "we don't really know what's in a black hole, so take it and run with it."[56] Theoretical physicist 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."[57]


Wormholes and black holes[edit]

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 people at Double Negative. Thorne would provide pages of deeply sourced theoretical equations to the engineers, 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, totalling to 800 terabytes of data for the movie.[5] The resulting visual effect provided Thorne with new insight into the effects of gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes, which led to the publication of three scientific papers.[58][59][60] A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking was a great source for Interstellar.[citation needed]

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. The visual representation of the black hole in the movie does not account for the Doppler effect, which when added by the visual effects team, resulted in an asymmetrically lit black and blue black hole. Nolan didn't like the asymmetry caused by the Doppler effect and thought moviegoers wouldn't understand why it was asymmetrical, so the finished black hole ignored the Doppler effect.[61] 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".[62]

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.[63] 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.[64]

Correct depiction of the Penrose process was also praised.[65]

Marketing[edit]

The teaser trailer for Interstellar debuted December 13, 2013 and featured clips related to space exploration, accompanied by a voiceover by Matthew McConaughey's character of Coop.[66] 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.[67]

Christopher Nolan and McConaughey made their first appearances at San Diego 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.[68]

In October 2014, Paramount partnered with Google to promote Interstellar across multiple platforms.[69] The film's website was relaunched to be a digital hub hosted on a Google domain.[70] The website collected feedback from film audiences, and linked to a mobile app.[70] The app featured a game in which players could build solar system models and use a flight simulator for space travel.[71] 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 and science in schools around the United States.[69]

Paramount provided 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.[72][73] 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.[74] On November 7, 2014, W. W. Norton & Company released The Science of Interstellar, a book by Kip Thorne.[75]

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, with Mann as the protagonist.[76]

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.[77] 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.[78] 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.[79] The film officially premiered on October 26, 2014 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California.[80] It premiered in Europe on October 29, 2014 at Leicester Square in London.[81]

Interstellar was released early on November 4 in various 70 mm IMAX film, 70 mm film and 35 mm 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.[82] 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.[83] For the limited North America release, Interstellar was projected from 70 mm and 35 mm film in 249 theaters that still supported 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.[84] Paramount Pictures distributed the film in North America, and Warner Bros. distributed it in the remaining territories.[27] The film was released in over 770 IMAX screens worldwide, which was widest global release in IMAX cinemas,[85][86] until surpassed by Universal Pictures' Furious 7 (810 IMAX theaters).[87]

Interstellar is an exception to Paramount Pictures' goal to stop releasing films on film stock and to distribute them only in digital format.[88] According to Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter, the initiative to project Interstellar from film would help preserve an endangered format,[84] an initiative supported by Christopher Nolan, J. J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow, Paul Thomas Anderson, and other filmmakers.[89] 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.[90]

Home media[edit]

Interstellar was released on home video on March 31, 2015 in both the United Kingdom and United States.[91][92] It topped the home video sales chart in its opening week[93] and for a total of two weeks.[94] It was reported that Interstellar was the most pirated film of 2015, with an estimated 46.7 million downloads on BitTorrent.[95]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Interstellar grossed $188 million in the USA & Canada, and $487.1 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $675.1 million against a production budget of $165 million.[3] Calculating in all expenses, Deadline.com estimated that the film made a profit of $47.2 million.[96]

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.[97] It had a worldwide opening of $132.6 million, which is the 10th largest opening of 2014.[98] It became the 10th highest-grossing film of 2014.[99] 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.[100][101][102]

Interstellar was released in the UK, Ireland and Malta on November 6, 2014, and 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).[103] The film was released in 35 markets on the same day, including major markets like Germany, Russia, Australia, and Brazil and earned $8.7 million in total.[104] Through Sunday, it earned an opening weekend total of $82.9 million from 11.1 million admissions from over 14,800 screens in 62 markets.[105] It earned $7.3 million from 206 IMAX screens, at an average of 35,400 per theater.[106] It went to number one in South Korea ($14.4 million),[107] Russia ($8.9 million), and France ($5.3 million). Other high openings occurred in Germany ($4.6 million), India ($4.3 million), Italy ($3.7 million), Australia ($3.7 million), Spain ($2.7 million), Mexico ($3.1 million), and Brazil ($1.9 million).[108] 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 after surpassing the $4.61 million opening record of The Dark Knight Rises.[109][110] It went on to earn $41.7 million in its opening weekend, accounting 55% of the market shares.[111][112] It is Nolan's biggest opening in China, Warner Bros' biggest 2D opening,[113] and the studio's third biggest opening of all time, behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ($49.5 million)[114] and Pacific Rim ($45.2 million).[115][116]

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.[113] Just 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).[117] 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.[118][119] In total earnings, its largest markets outside of North America and China are South Korea ($73.4 million), the UK, Ireland and Malta ($31.3 million), and Russia and the CIS ($19 million).[120]

Interstellar and Big Hero 6 opened the same weekend (November 7–9, 2014) in the U.S. and Canada. 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.[121] Fandango reported that pre-sales for Interstellar were outpacing Christopher Nolan's earlier film Inception (2010), as well as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, released earlier in 2014.

In North America, the film is the seventh highest-grossing film that never hit No. 1 with a top rank of No. 2 in its opening weekend.[122] Interstellar had an early limited release in the U.S. and Canada in selected theaters on November 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm, coinciding with the 2014 US midterm elections.[123] It 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.[124] 240 of those theatres played in 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm film formats.[125] It earned $3.6 million from Thursday late-night shows for a previews total of $4.9 million (Tuesday — Thursday).[126][127][128] 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).[129] The film played 52% male and 75% over 25 years old.[130]

In its opening weekend, the film earned $47.5 million[nb 2] from 3,561 theaters, debuting in second place after a neck-and-neck competition with Disney's Big Hero 6 ($56.2 million).[132] IMAX comprised $13.2 million (28%) of its opening weekend gross,[132] while other premium large format screens comprised $5.3 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.[133][134] 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."[135] 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 $29.1 million for a two-weekend total of $97.8 million.[136][137] It earned $7.4 million from IMAX theatres from 368 screens in its second weekend.[138][139] 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.[140]

Critical response[edit]

Interstellar received positive reviews from critics. In review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 71% based on 294 reviews, with a rating average of 7/10. 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."[141] On Metacritic, another review aggregator, the film has a score of 74 out of 100 based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[142]

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.[143] Claudia Puig of USA Today praised the visual spectacle and powerful themes, while criticizing the "dull" dialogue and "tedious patches inside the space vessel."[144] 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.[145] 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."[146]

Oliver Gettell of the 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."[147] James Dyer of 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."[148] 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."[149] New York Post critic Lou Lumenick deemed Interstellar as "a soulful, must-see masterpiece, one of the most exhilarating film experiences so far this century."[150] 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."[151]

Describing Nolan as a "merchant of awe," Tim Robey of The Telegraph thought that Interstellar was "agonisingly" close to a masterpiece, highlighting the conceptual boldness and the "deep-digging intelligence" of the film.[152] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "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."[153] 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".[154] 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." He wrote that Interstellar "ends up as a stripped-down and somewhat muted variation on any number of 'go into space to save the world' movies."[155]

The 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."[156] Wai Chee Dimock, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, wrote 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."[157] Novelist and short story writer George R. R. Martin called Interstellar "the most ambitious and challenging science fiction film since Kubrick's 2001."[158]

Top 10 lists[edit]

Interstellar was listed on many American critics' Top 10 lists for the year 2014.[159]

Accolades[edit]

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 2.39:1 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 $2.2 million from the two late night showings which would bring its opening weekend gross to $49.7 million.[131]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]