AS cinemas prepare to reopen after almost six months of silence and darkness, the film industry’s recovery hopes rest on a new all-star blockbuster.
Spy thriller Tenet is the first major release after lockdown closed theatres back in March.
It is written, directed and produced by British big-hitter Christopher Nolan, who masterminded the Dark Knight trilogy.
The cast features BlacKkKlansman’s John David Washington, Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, The Night Manager’s Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh and screen icon Michael Caine.
Total Film editor Jane Crowther said: “When all the films were being pulled out of the schedules, Tenet held strong and has become the white knight of the film industry.
“All the studios will be watching very closely to see how it performs.
“Warner Bros (its producers) are confident Tenet will succeed because Christopher Nolan makes ‘event cinema’ designed for the big screen.
“It’s a massive gamble releasing a film knowing the cinemas will only be at 50 per cent capacity for safety reasons. But this film is so intelligent and intriguing, people will want to watch it again and again.”
Tenet cost a whopping £155million to make, even before tens of millions more spent on marketing.
But Nolan has a spectacular CV. As well as the Christian Bale Batman films, it includes Interstellar, Inception and war epic Dunkirk.
In Tenet, a mindbending spy thriller, Washington and Pattinson race to prevent World War Three.
Branagh plays a villainous Russian oligarch and Debicki his wife.
Nolan said: “This film is not a time-travel film. It deals with time and the different ways time can function.”
The streaming platforms boomed in lockdown, with some movies previously slated for a cinema release instead debuting on digital.
Netflix has captured a 45 per cent share of the online audience, according to Ofcom figures, with Amazon Prime Video at 39 per cent and Disney’s streaming service on 16 per cent.
But cinema chain Odeon this week claimed 76 per cent of British people in a poll are bored of the streaming sites that have been our go-to for entertainment in recent months.
And almost a third (32 per cent) said they had tried to recreate the cinema experience at home with dimmed lighting, popcorn and even banning phones. Movie fans who do go back to the cinema will have to wear a mask.
Odeon’s Chris Bates said: “The release of Tenet will help remind the nation that nothing compares to the entertainment of the cinema experience.
“Cinema fans will be blown away by this Christopher Nolan masterpiece.”
Actor and film critic Kaleem Aftab said people want an experience that is better than watching at home. He added: “With Christopher Nolan films you have a big-screen experience, great effects and incredible sound you just can’t match at home.”
But author and critic Jason Solomons said: “The industry is trying to convince us cinemas will bounce back.
“They have been blown away by this virus and by the streaming platforms. I think we’ve seen the end of multiplex culture.”
The film will be released in some locations in 4DX — a new experience featuring effects including moving seats, smoke machines, 270-degree surround-screens, jets of water and wind, and even smells.
Those in the industry hope these additions will enhance the experience and lure punters off their sofas.
If Tenet cannot get us back in the habit, it is hard to imagine what will.
YOU NEED TO SEE IT
By Jamie East, film critic
I CANNOT remember a film to ever carry with it such responsibility.
Does it work? Well, yes and no. This is exactly what we needed – a giant, bombastic, gorgeous movie to remind us of everything cinema can offer.
It’s a spectacle that deserves to be seen in the best place possible.
In a nutshell, this is Christopher Nolan doing a Bond film with elements from Inception and Memento thrown in.
John David Washington is the unnamed protagonist, saved from a bungled CIA operation and pitted against Kenneth Branagh’s oligarch Andrei Sator.
It only really started to make sense after my second viewing and even now I’m not certain what the hell I was watching.
Despite the frayed plot and bad script, this is still a film you need to see.
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