Jordan Peele Reveals What the Title ‘Nope’ Means and a Few New Details at CinemaCon

Something horrible is afoot in Jordan Peele’s “Nope.” And viewers of the highly anticipated horror movie got a little bit more of a sense of what that could be during Universal’s presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas Wednesday night.

The trailer, which Universal released in February, set up a captivating premise, beautifully lensed by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema: James and Jill Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) run Hollywood’s only black-owned horse ranch and are touting their family’s entangled history with the motion picture business. Her great-great-great-grandfather was the man in the iconic image of a jockey on a horse that served as a 19th-century study in how to make images “move.” Then something happens that forces a lot of people — including James, Jill, and Steven Yeun in a cowboy hat and bolo tie — to look up toward the sky.

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“What’s a bad miracle?” James asks. “Is there a word for that?”

Before long, people are floating into the sky — and a horse flying into the air is the image on the official poster. Seems like a collision of Americana and the otherworldly that’s very much worthy of Peele’s previous horror efforts “Get Out” and “Us.” Stevie Wonder’s first-ever number-one hit, 1962’s “Fingertips,” is the musical accompaniment for all this — and the fact that shot to the top of the charts when he was just 13 is as otherworldly a feat as anything.

“I’m very proud of it,” Peele said during his presentation. “We shot ‘Nope’ in 65mm and IMAX”. Incredible. The IMAX cameras allowed us to capture some incredible images, unlike anything on film before. We used some new techniques that we’ve never seen before.”

Right away at his presentation Peele addressed why he make originals rather than directing for a franchise: “I’ve always been attracted by the prospect of my favorite movie I haven’t seen before and what that could possibly be,” he said. “And that to me is in the spirit of moviemaking.”

Peele said that some of the theories viewers of the trailer had been close to what’s actually happening, and others are far off. A clip that showed in his presentation clearly revealed a UFO. And Kaluuya and Palmer’s characters being associated with Hollywood? That’s related to what we see of them pointing a camera at the sky and trying to capture some mysterious phenomenon. And Yeun’s character is revealed to be a rodeo ringleader of some sort.

He also celebrated the theatrical experience, and gave a particular shoutout to loud audiences, his favorite. “I love a rapt audience, whatever it is. I love an audience that’s cringing or cowering or laughing. Roller coaters aren’t fun alone. Laughing isn’t fun alone. Being scared isn’t fun alone. You need that energy and it heightens the ride.” That’s also what inspired the film’s title: “I like the titles that are in tune with how the audiences are feeling and reflect on what they’re thinking and feeling in the theater.” He basically wants the audience to say “Nope!” to what they’re experiencing. And be in for a healthy dose of spectacle. That’s what Yeun’s character even says in the clip shown to the assembled crowd: “Right here you are going to witness an absolute spectacle.”

“Nope” is set to be released in theaters on July 22.

With additional reporting from Chris Lindahl.

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