Force Awakens director JJ Abrams not looking forward to film being watched on cellphones

Director J.J. Abrams taking a photo with his smartphone during the Star Wars celebration convention in Anaheim, California, on April 16, 2015.
Director J.J. Abrams taking a photo with his smartphone during the Star Wars celebration convention in Anaheim, California, on April 16, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - With Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out soon on iTunes, the director of the box-office smash said on Monday it was a "nightmare" to think of people watching the big-screen sci-fi adventure on a cellphone.

"Anyone who makes movies will say: 'Please don't watch my movies on that,'" J.J. Abrams, 49, the writer-director of the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise, told a seminar at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin.

"It is the nightmare of every storyteller that people are going to watch something you made on something so small," he said, adding it was inevitable that people would find it more convenient to watch the movie on a handheld device.

Walt Disney Co's The Force Awakens is the third-highest grossing film ever worldwide. It was made for about US$200 million (S$275 million) and has taken in more than US$2 billion globally. It will be released on iTunes on April 1, and includes extra scenes and a feature-length documentary on its making.

The technology-savvy filmmaker, who produced the indie sci-fi film 10 Cloverfield Lane, which grossed US$25 million over the weekend, added one of the benefits of the proliferation of smartphones was that anyone could make and distribute movies.

He also said the outcry about the lack of diversity in this year's Academy Award nominations served as a wake-up call for the industry and led his production company, Bad Robot, to broaden its list of candidates for films.

He said it would take time but be good for the bottom line in the long run to have more unique stories being told.

"This is about opportunity to give people who might not be the usual suspects a chance in front of, and behind the camera,"he said. "There is no quota. It's simply about consideration."