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At this point, it's no secret that Christopher Nolan has become known as one of Hollywood's most beloved and consistent filmmakers. He has a knack for blending blockbuster spectacle with big ideas in a manner seldom seen in the film industry, and it turns out that this has sometimes caused confusion and concern among studio insiders. In fact, the Dunkirk director's frequent collaborator Emma Thomas recently opened up, and admitted that industry insiders have consistently shown concern over whether or not audiences would "like" his films. Thomas explained:
Ever since Memento, he's gotten the reaction, 'I like it, but I don't know if audiences will.' But Chris continually proves that audiences can accept challenging material and be entertained.
Even in the face of Christopher Nolan's consistent success, it sounds like he has continuously left insiders with a sense of unease whenever he has screened his movies before release. The reason for this is likely because Nolan likes to experiment with structure and format in his films. From Memento to Dunkirk, almost all of his films have toyed with non-linear storytelling, or experimental narrative structure in ways that aren't often seen in big movies. However, despite the worry, fans seem to always take an interest in Nolan's "challenging" films and prove that his experiments have a place in the modern movie world.
One need only look at Nolan's filmography to understand why Emma Thomas means in her statement to Variety. Insomnia (one of his most underrated films) conveyed the sense of sleeplessness and exhaustion experienced by its protagonist in a way that intentionally threw audiences off-balance. Inception made viewers question the sheer reality of the movie itself in its final moments. Then there's the Oscar-nominated Dunkirk, which played with the concept of time and told three stories over the course of an hour, a day, and a week.
Even the more straightforward Christopher Nolan movies take risks in how they approach their material. Batman Begins arguably kicked off the modern dark and gritty superhero movie trend that's still very much the standard for many comic book movies. From there, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises continued that trend by experimenting with different thematic ideas (chaos for The Dark Knight, and pain for The Dark Knight Rises) and focusing on highly-practical stunt work.
In the interest of fairness, it's not entirely difficult to understand why some in the Hollywood landscape would show concern over the big swings that Christopher Nolan takes with his movies. He has proven himself successful time and time again with big and bold projects, but other filmmakers of a similar ilk have had some difficulty maintaining the same degree of success with smart, spectacle-based movies in recent years. In 2017 alone, Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes and Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 both underperformed at the box office while earning widespread critical praise, lending credence to the idea that a brash, Nolan-esque approach doesn't always translate to financial success.
With that said, while industry insiders and studio executives have apparently shown hesitation with all of these films, but Nolan's fans continue to come out of the woodwork every single time. Given Dunkirk's box office performance and Oscar nomination, it doesn't look like that's going to slow down anytime soon.
Considering Christopher Nolan's near-perfect track record with audiences, we will just have to wait and see what he does next. For now, check out CinemaBlend's 2018 movie premiere guide, and make sure to watch Dunkirk duke it out with all of the other Oscar nominees when The Academy Awards ceremony airs on Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.