You might not remember, but back when Steven Soderbergh's virus thriller "Contagion" hit theaters last fall, it also landed on over 250 IMAX screens. While the director has dabbled in many genres and styles over the years, we would've thought IMAX might prove to be more of a gimmick than an aesthetic he would pursue. But talking recently with the AV Club, Soderbergh admits he too was surprised to be taken with the format, calling the "Contagion" IMAX edition "awesome."
"They came to us. Rather, Danny Feldman at Warner Bros. had been in conversation with IMAX, and they said to him, 'We don’t just want to be known as a format that caters to effects movies. Why don’t you guys let us do a 10-minute test on 'Contagion' and have Steven come out and look at it?' And I was like, 'Eh, all right, I’ll look at it.' I loved it," Soderbergh explains about how it all came together. "It was great. It just intensified everything. You could see Gwyneth [Paltrow]’s sweat, and it just amped everything up. Their quality control is extraordinary, and the image is fantastic, and the sound quality. It’s a great way to see a movie, period. They turned me out, boy. It didn’t take long. [Laughs]"
In fact, Soderbergh liked it so much, for his upcoming vengeance tale "Haywire," he was considering giving it IMAX treatment as well, but unfortunately "Underworld: Awakening," the fourth entry in a shitty, low budget vampire franchise is hogging up the screens this weekend, kiboshing the idea. Thanks Hollywood.
"We wanted to, we wanted to, but 'Underworld' had them, had all the IMAX shit. Right after the 'Contagion' test, I called Relativity and said, 'Can we get in on this?' and they were like, 'Somebody else has it.' Because they only have so many screens," he explains. "...they just have like, 75 screens in the U.S., and you’ve got to let them know a year ahead of time that your movie’s coming out on this date and you want those screens."
So, we'll have to leave the vision of a seven story tall Gina Carano beating the living shit out of Channing Tatum to our imagination. When asked if he would ever shoot natively in the format however, Soderbergh said no, but he does reveal he talked to IMAX's biggest fan Christopher Nolan about it (to be a fly on the wall of that conversation...).
"We had a funny conversation about it the other day, because [Nolan] was running a test of some of the stuff for the new Batman film in Burbank, and he’s like, 'Hey, you should come check this out,' and I couldn’t make it, because I had a location scout. But I was saying, 'Jesus, Chris, those cameras are so big. What do you do if you have a car shot and you want to put the camera somewhere? What do you do?' And he goes, 'Well, you know, the good news is on a Batman movie, I decide what the shots are and then they just build a version of the car where the camera can be where I want it.' Literally they just chop the whole part of the car away and stick the camera there. And then he goes, “You can’t do that on a normal movie, but on a Batman movie, you can do it.”
Fascinating stuff. But IMAX or not, "Haywire" rocks. It opens on Friday and here's a new clip from the film below. And oh yeah, with Soderbergh gearing up his next effort "The Side Effects" to shoot this spring with Tatum, Blake Lively and Jude Law, it has just locked up distribution with Open Road. Soderbergh is already aiming for a release in March 2013.