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'Donnie Darko' director said Christopher Nolan's date card idea made film easier to follow

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Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly has said he received one key piece of advice from Christopher Nolan ahead of the film’s release that made the time-travel classic easier to follow.

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Kelly’s 2001 film reached its 20th anniversary this week (January 19), and to celebrate the landmark Kelly took part in a new oral history of the film.

In the piece published on The Ringer, Kelly said that it was Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas’ idea to include the parenthetical title cards below the date every time the date changes in the film.

“Chris and his wife, it was their idea to put the parenthetical beneath the title cards,” he revealed.

The piece of advice then helped gain Nolan’s backing for the film; the director was instrumental in getting the film a deal and subsequent release.

Remembering a private screening with executives from the Newmarket production company at a time when Donnie Darko had no distributor, Kelly said: “When the lights came up, Chris and his wife both turned to the Newmarket executives, Chris Ball and Will Tyrer, and they both looked over at them and they nodded.

“They were like, ‘You guys should distribute this.’”

Christopher Nolan (Picture: Getty)

Meanwhile, Donnie Darko star Jake Gyllenhaal celebrated the 20th anniversary of the film this week with a new social media post.

“It’s a film that changed my life and my career and it’s been unreal to watch this story find afterlives with new audiences and new generations,” Gyllenhaal wrote on Instagram. “And yet, what Donnie said to Roberta Sparrow is still true: ‘there is so much to look forward to.’”

Nolan released his most recent film Tenet last summer, which was one of the only blockbusters to get a cinema release since the coronavirus pandemic hit last March.

A five-star NME review of the film read: “Tenet is rarely less than thrilling to watch. It’s a challenging, ambitious and genuinely original film packed with compelling performances – Washington and Debicki are especially excellent – which confirms Nolan as the master of the cerebral blockbuster. And if you can, you need to see this visually stunning movie on a big screen.”

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