Christopher Nolan is one of Hollywood’s hottest filmmakers, with a string of critical and commercial hits that include Inception, the Dark Knight trilogy, and 2017’s Dunkirk. At this point, any project with his name on it is a big deal, but the upcoming Tenet might be his most important movie so far.
After some release date shuffling, Tenet is currently scheduled to release on August 12.
Originally scheduled to premiere July 17, Warner Bros. pushed the release two weeks later to July 31 due to concerns about the viability of movie theater turnout as states slowly reopen their economies. Tenet was later pushed another two weeks as Warner Bros. seems adamant to make Nolan’s film the first major movie to hit theaters in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tenet is ostensibly set in the world of international espionage, but elements of science fiction and fantasy have run through early previews of the film.
Here’s everything we know about Tenet so far.
Like most of Nolan’s prior films, Tenet has been surrounded in mystery during the lead-up to its premiere.
The film reportedly follows a secret agent on a mission to stop World War III,who must use a variety of fantastic tools and abilities — possibly involving time manipulation and other sci-fi elements — in order to save humanity.
However, in a May interview with GQ Magazine, cast member Robert Pattinson indicated that his character is “not a time traveler.”
“There’s actually no time traveling,” he revealed. “That’s, like, the one thing I’m approved to say.”
The cast of Tenet is a mix of rising stars, familiar faces, and veterans of Nolan’s earlier films.
John David Washington, who was nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his lead actor performance in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, plays one of the film’s lead roles. Washington’s unidentified secret agent character is the focus of the film’s first trailer and much of the early footage released from the film, suggesting he’ll be the story’s primary protagonist.
Washington is joined in the film by former Twilight franchise actor Robert Pattinson, who appears to play another secret agent. In an interesting convergence of properties, Pattinson will also play the lead role in the upcoming superhero movie The Batman — a character Nolan is quite familiar with after directing the critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy.
The supporting cast of the film also includes The Great Gatsby actress Elizabeth Debicki, Kick-Ass actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Dark Knight trilogy actor Michael Caine, and Henry V actor Kenneth Branagh.
The first trailer for Tenet (see above) was released December 19, 2019.
Several months later, a television ad for the movie teased the arrival of a new Tenet trailer debuting May 21.
A second trailer for the film premiered in Fortnite (yes, Fortnite) on May, 21 2020.
The release date
Tenet is currently scheduled to hit theaters August 12. The uncertain status of theaters both in the U.S. and internationally due to the coronavirus pandemic forced studio Warner Bros. Pictures to push back the film’s release twice; once from its original release date of July 17, and again from the updated release date of July 31.
The first indication that Tenet might not premiere on its initial release date was provided by a television ad for the film that premiered May 21. Instead of confirming the film’s release date, the preview indicated the movie was simply “coming to theaters.”
The coronavirus question
With theaters throughout the U.S. still in the early stages of reopening (and many still without a firm date to reopen safely), one of the biggest questions surrounding Tenet was whether it would be able to premiere July 17 as initially planned. As we know now, the release date was indeed pushed nearly a month, likely due to the uneasiness of reopening theaters as the pandemic still rages.
Tenet was supposed to be the first major movie scheduled to hit theaters after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close around the world. With its reported $205 million production budget and additional associated costs, Tenet is Nolan’s most expensive original film to date and will need a long and profitable run in theaters to turn a profit for the studio and Nolan’s production company.
Warner Bros. Pictures is expected to make a call on the film’s release date as more information about theater availability becomes available.
Updated June 26, 2020: Updated the release date to August 12.