I was once told by a media teacher in school that there were very few directors whose name alone could send a movie to number one at the box office.
Spielberg was one, Tarantino another, with Scorsese a potential entrant into the club too. In recent years, the same claim could be made for Christopher Nolan. I mean, who else could make movies like Dunkirk and Interstellar, which risk incoherence with their manipulation of time, into such massive box office smashes?
The buzz around his forthcoming film, Tenet, gives you an idea of his current standing in Hollywood. A completely original movie that costs upwards of $200 million, it likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Nolan. The last time something like this happened was with James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009, which subsequently became the world’s most successful movie for ten years. So, no pressure.
Not that Nolan is likely feeling any. With a too die for cast list – Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh and John David Washington (a black main character in a Nolan film – finally!) and Clémence Poésy – the director has little to worry about. Indeed, even for a Christopher Nolan movie – the cast is unusually starry. Not in the sense that everyone in it is a Name, like with Inception. It’s more that over half of the cast have had starring roles in other movies over the last decade or so. So, what could that mean?
The synopsis on IMDb reads that, although the exact concept of the film isn’t known, the project involves “international espionage, time travel, and evolution”. So, what we’re looking at is likely a sci-fi spy movie. In that regard, I have a feeling that the high-quality list of names that are going to headline the movie’s poster are potentially spread across the globe, a la Soderbergh’s Contagion. We might be jumping around the world and experiencing multiple storylines simultaneously – which would make sense after Dunkirk. If that’s the direction he’s going, I’m all in.
Even if it’s not, however, it’s still a spy movie being teased with the caveats of involving time travel (hell yes) and evolution (what the hell but also yes). And Nolan has the advantage of being a largely sexless director. He can completely use that, depending on the kind of spy movie he wants to make. James Bond? No way, get out of here. But something a bit nerdier? Maybe even a bit more emo, as with Interstellar? He knows how to do that.
He’s also bringing back old chum Hoyte Van Hoytema on cinematography, and breaking with Hans Zimmer for the first time since 2006 in favour of Black Panther composer, Ludwig Göransson. He’s also the sole screenwriting credit, the second time in a row in which this has happened (his brother, Jonathan Nolan, often writes the script with him), so this is a straight-up auteur original, made on one of the biggest budgets ever. Bring it on.
Tenet has been postponed due to the continuing Coronavirus Crisis. More information about the movie can be found here.
For information on other forthcoming releases in London, please click here.