Christopher Nolan’s long-anticipated film Tenet has finally premiered and is the first major film to be released since the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie stars John David Washington who plays an unnamed CIA operative only known as “the protagonist” who inverts time in an attempt to stop a third world war. It also stars future Batman Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki. Tenant was shot on a 70-milliliter film and is intended to be seen in an IMAX theater. Tenet has already premiered in Australia and opens Wednesday in Canada, South Korea, and much of Europe. Next week it will open in select cities in the United States followed by Russia, China, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan. Many theaters are still closed in the states and according to NPR it will not be shown in New York or Los Angeles. According to CinemaBlend, the decision to do staggered premiers internationally is unprecedented in the movie industry.
Nolan is an advocator for an authentic movie experience. He would also rather do the real thing instead of using CGI and green screens. Tenant made headlines when fans found out Nolan blew up a real plane for the film. With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, the movie industry is rapidly changing and losing its “authenticity.” Instead of working with major studios and having a large theatrical release, productions are choosing to release the film with a streaming platform for a faster and often cheaper option. This fast rapid production and release is something that Nolan despises. In an interview with Variety Nolan explained, “Every other industry, whether it‘s the car industry or whatever, controls when a product is launched. The idea that the film business should forget that and just throw everything together at the same time makes no sense. It’s not good business, and people will realize that eventually. “ Nolan refused to give up this control and this was reportedly a point of contention between him and Warner Bros. Tenet was supposed to be released on July 17, 2020, but was forced to push its premier. Nolan was eager to release the film and believed it could help reopen movie theaters. In June they announced the release would be pushed 2 weeks and it was then moved a second time to its August date. According to The New York Times, Warner Bros wanted to push the release date much farther than that. As you can imagine, blowing up real planes isn’t cheap. Tenet was reportedly made with a $200 million budget and to break even the film would have to make $400 million at the box office. So naturally, the studio was fearful of losing that investment.
Nolan however had a different idea. According to CinemaBlend Nolan was standing in “solidarity” with theater exhibitors and wasn’t concerned about how much the movie made. In March Nolan wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post calling on Congress to help movie theaters and called the business “a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all.” There was a lot of pressure to see how the film does at the box office but its showing promising signs. Tenet is already getting support from major players in the industry. Tom Cruise attended the premiere in London and tweeted, “Big Movie. Big Screen. Loved it.” Director Edgar Wright said ”It‘s ironic the only remaining summer movie has more to chew on than what would have been the season combined. Nolan gives us another spatial fiction epic which I can’t wait to see again (forwards & back).” Time will tell how Tenant does in the box office but Nolan might be what the world needed to save the authentic cinematic experience.