Two years after the release of his last movie, the breathtaking World War II epic Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan is hard at work on his next film. After the rumor mill suggested that Nolan’s mysterious new project could be anything from a North by Northwest-inspired romantic thriller to a sci-fi extravaganza that messes with the space-time continuum, it’s been confirmed that the movie is a big-budget action thriller called Tenet.
Plot details are being kept in the dark, but there’s no doubt that this will be a really spectacular movie. Here is Everything We Know (So Far) About Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
10 It’s a spy movie
While the plot details on Tenet remain scarce – which is typical for a Nolan film, as he tends to want to keep audiences in the dark until they actually have some of his breathtaking IMAX footage to see – it has been confirmed that it’s set in “the world of international espionage.”
This makes it Nolan’s first ever spy movie after years of James Bond fans clamoring for him to take on a 007 film. Perhaps Tenet will offer us a glimpse at what a Nolan-helmed Bond movie would look like (although the snow-bound action set piece in Inception already gave us that).
9 Tenet has a cast of promising young stars
The cast of Tenet includes a number of great rising stars, including John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son who has made his name recently in HBO’s Ballers and Spike Lee’s critically adored BlacKkKlansman, as well as Robert Pattinson, who was recently announced as the DCEU’s new Batman.
Two MCU stars, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s Elizabeth Debicki – no stranger to the spy genre following her acclaimed turn in the AMC miniseries The Night Manager – and Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson, have also been cast. The cast also includes Bollywood star Dimple Kapadia and Clémence Poésy, who played Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies and Chloë in In Bruges.
8 A couple of Nolan regulars are coming back
Two of Christopher Nolan’s usual roster of actors (less than usual) have been cast to play supporting roles in Tenet. Michael Caine, who has appeared as Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight trilogy in addition to key roles in Inception and Interstellar, will be in the film.
In addition, Kenneth Branagh, who marked his first collaboration with Nolan in 2017 with the part of Commander Bolton in the director’s big-budget World War II epic Dunkirk, has also been cast. This means no Cillian Murphy, no Tom Hardy, no Marion Cotillard, no Morgan Freeman – but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be awesome.
7 It’ll be released on July 17, 2020
Tenet’s release date is set for July 17, 2020. Deadline has called this “a lucky date for Nolan,” since his last four movies – going backwards: Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception – were all released in the third week of July and all went on to become gargantuan box office hits.
Its only competition on this date will be Bob’s Burgers: The Movie and an as-yet-untitled Universal Pictures event film. From the previous week, it’ll face off against Ghostbusters 2020 and The Purge 5, while in the following week, it’ll be joined by the Dwayne Johnson vehicle Jungle Cruise.
6 Hans Zimmer isn’t composing the score
In a surprising move, Christopher Nolan hasn’t hired Hans Zimmer to compose the score for Tenet. Zimmer has scored every single one of Nolan’s movies since Batman Begins, so it’s unusual that he’s been cut out of his new one. Instead, the score is being composed by Ludwig Göransson.
Göransson has scored every one of Ryan Coogler’s movies (winning the Oscar for Best Original Score for Black Panther), as well as Venom, We’re the Millers, the recent Death Wish remake, and such TV shows as Community and The Mandalorian, so he has a pretty diverse résumé. Göransson has also collaborated on non-film-related work with Childish Gambino and Chance the Rapper.
5 It’ll be shot on a mix of 70mm film and IMAX
Hoyte van Hoytema has been hired as director of photography for the production of Tenet. He and Christopher Nolan have resolved to use a mix of 70mm film and IMAX to shoot the movie. Nolan swears by IMAX, praising it as the only modern filmmaking innovation to top good old-fashioned film formats, and he’s used it to shoot some of his most cinematic sequences.
Until The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, Nolan’s go-to cinematographer was Wally Pfister, but when Pfister moved on to directing his own stuff (starting with the critically panned Transcendence), he switched to Hoyte van Hoytema, who has shot all of his movies ever since.
4 Tenet is shooting all over the world
Every great spy movie – and, indeed, every James Bond movie – jumps from country to country to give audiences a globe-hopping adventure. The production of Tenet has been confirmed to be jetting between seven different countries over the next few months, including Estonia, India, Italy, and the UK.
The producers had a bit of tension with the mayor of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, when they planned to shut down a stretch of Laagna Road for an entire month during the shoot. They eventually reached a compromise and agreed to only shut it down for 11 days, offering alternative routes to commuters.
3 Nolan’s long-time editor isn’t involved
Every single Christopher Nolan film since Batman Begins way back in 2005 has been edited by Lee Smith, so it’s quite monumental that Smith isn’t coming back for Tenet. Rather than bad blood or creative differences, the reason for Smith’s absence from the film is that he’s busy cutting Sam Mendes’ upcoming war epic 1917.
So, instead, Jennifer Lame will be editing Tenet. Lame’s best-known works are the Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea and the Toni Collette-starring horror opus Hereditary, while she’s been indie darling Noah Baumbach’s editor of choice since they collaborated on the critically acclaimed Greta Gerwig vehicle Frances Ha.
2 There’s reportedly a scene where a tank crashes through a tram
According to the Norwegian blog Delfi, Christopher Nolan is planning a pretty ambitious sequence for Tenet in which a tank will crash through a tram. And since this is Nolan and not the team behind the Fast & Furious movies, this will all be done with practical effects and not with CGI.
The scene is set to be shot on July 29-30 under the working title Merry-Go-Round. It is reminiscent of the scene in GoldenEye in which a tank plowed through a truck, or the scene in Nolan’s own Inception in which a train was rammed through some traffic during a dream gone wrong.
1 Tenet might be one of the most expensive movies ever made
It’s been reported that Tenet’s production budget is higher than $200 million, with some claiming it’s around $225 million. This would make it Christopher Nolan’s second most expensive film after The Dark Knight Rises, which cost $250 million to make, but it’s important to bear in mind that The Dark Knight Rises was a comic book movie with an established fan base and the third chapter in an immensely popular trilogy.
If its budget is $225 million, then Tenet is far more expensive than Nolan’s other original works, topping Dunkirk’s $100 million, Inception’s $160 million, and Interstellar’s $165 million. The latter movie went inside a black hole, so Tenet had better be pretty spectacular.