Why Dunkirk Did So Well At The Box Office, According To Christopher Nolan

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Christopher Nolan may not be the foremost expert on creating successful movies, but he is certainly an expert when it comes to creating movies that get both critical acclaim and love at the box office. In a lengthy profile this week, the famous director explained why his latest movie, Dunkirk, did so well at the box office, noting that it's because he is able to find a balance between giving the audience big superhero projects that they might expect, he also has figured out how to give the audience new things. According to Nolan:

You have to have a healthy balance. Along with giving people what they liked before, you have to offer them surprise.

Obviously, with something like The Dark Knight trilogy, fans got a set of big budget superhero movies, although even those had Christopher Nolan's own look and style. However, even between his movies starring the Caped Crusader, Nolan worked on films like The Prestige and Inception, movies that he felt fit into a niche that people wanted. It's a formula that seems to have worked for Nolan.

Christopher Nolan seems to think a lot of this has to do with taste, or at least having an understanding of where the movie market is and what it can accomplish in terms of doing something creative but also giving the people what they want. In his profile with Variety, he also noted,

What does the audience want? Well, they don't know what they want. They just know that they want it, and they'll know what that is when they see it.

The director is a pretty special case in the movie industry. Right now there are a lot of movies being produced on fairly low budgets and a lot of movies being produced on massive budgets with very little being created in between. Dunkirk cost $100 million to make--which is a big budget, but not extravagant compared to, say, a Marvel film. However, it's a bet that seems to have paid off, as the movie made $524.8 million worldwide during its theatrical run after a healthy start at the U.S. box office.

Dunkirk came out over the summer and the longtime director has yet to announce his next directorial project, although recent comments indicate we won't see that project hit a streaming service such as Netflix, first. We'll keep you posted as soon as Christopher Nolan announces what he'll start working on next. In the meantime, Dunkirk is going to hit early VOD windows on December 12 and will hit Blu-ray and DVD on December 19--just in time for the holidays, if you have a member of the family who is a Nolan or WWII buff. To find out what else is heading to homes soon, take a look at our full home entertainment guide.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.