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Trivia / Tenet

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  • Ability over Appearance: Kat was initially written as older, but producer Emma Thomas had seen Elizabeth Debicki in Widows and was so struck by her performance that she asked Christopher Nolan to see it especially for her. Kat was then rewritten with Debicki in mind.
  • Acting in the Dark: Michael Caine wasn't even allowed to read the entire screenplay. He was only given his scenes to read before shooting. Prior to the film's release, Caine told press that he had no idea what the movie was about, despite being a close friend and a frequent collaborator of Christopher Nolan.
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  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Christopher Nolan was debating how to do the plane crash he'd scriptednote  when he learned that the production could source an old Boeing 747 at a relatively reasonable costnote . He didn't hesitate to say yes.
  • Box Office Bomb: The movie grossed $363 million worldwide in total, on a budget north of $200 million. It was valiantly released amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic (some commentators entrusted it and Nolan with the lofty goal of "saving cinemas"), which has wrecked the theatrical business stateside in the USA (only 65% of theaters operated at the time of its release, with severe limitations on the number of seats per screening) and has discouraged many usual moviegoing audiences to go back to theaters in the USA and Europe in general in-between several consecutive lockdowns. The film even grossed more in China (on par with Inception, on a market that has mostly recovered from the pandemic) than in the USA in the end. The film's financial struggles are believed to have inspired WarnerMedia' decision to release the remainder of the 2020/2021 Warner Bros. slate simultaneously on HBO Max alongside theaters in the USA starting with Wonder Woman 1984, a move that has angered Nolan and a number of other film industry folks.
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  • California Doubling: Scenes set in Ukraine were shot in Estonia, and the Vietnam coast is actually Italy.
  • The Danza: Sir Michael Caine plays Sir Michael Crosby.
  • Defictionalization: The Hamilton watch used in the film was created specifically for Tenet, but a real-life version (minus the digital readouts) is available for purchase.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • As perhaps the staunchest advocate of the theatrical experience, Nolan was adamant about releasing the film in 2020 in theaters and nowhere else, even amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic as many other studios chose to release their smaller 2020 films on streaming platforms and either pushed their tentpoles to 2021 to avoid financial losses or released them on premium video on demand.
    • The inverted fight scenes were achieved with minimal special effects. John David Washington trained extensively alongside the stunt team to prepare and figure out how to fight in reverse so that the inverted party in each sequence would be seen pulling back their hits.
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  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: Nolan conceived the ideas behind the film over the course of twenty years, but remarked "I've been working on this iteration of the script for about six or seven years."
  • Fake Brit: The Australian Elizabeth Debicki as Kat.
  • Fake Nationality: The British Jack Cutmore-Scott plays a Norwegian Freeport employee.
  • Fake Russian: The British Kenneth Branagh as Andrei Sator.
  • Meaningful Release Date: The original date was marketed as a palindrome, much like its title: in American conventions, it was displayed as 7.17 (7-1-7). TENET also was intended to be released for the 10th anniversary (plus one day) of Inception's release.
  • No Stunt Double:
    • John David Washington did all of the stunt sequences mostly by himself, using his football experience to work with the stunt crew.
    • Robert Pattinson revealed that he did much of the stunt driving for the film, including one particular sequence where he and Washington were in a BMW with an IMAX camera rigged to the hood. This meant that he could scarcely see anything through the windscreen and a slight turn left or right would result in the rig hitting the road.
  • Playing with Character Type:
    • Whilst Kenneth Branagh has made a habit of playing villains or unlikeable figures, here he mostly dials back his usual tendencies towards Large Ham performances and delivers a Cold Ham one instead, with only a couple of moments of ham.
    • Robert Pattinson, despite often being cast in either lead roles or supporting roles (with Neil being both at once), normally plays characters who are either villains, unstable in some way or just off. In this film, he plays the talented yet average, friendly and loyal Neil who despite knowing more than he lets on is still a figure of good.
  • Production Posse:
    • Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who previously worked with Nolan on Interstellar and Dunkirk, has returned for Tenet.
    • Production designer Nathan Crowley, who has worked with Nolan on every film since Insomnia (save for Inception), returns in the same capacity.
    • Kenneth Branagh plays in a Nolan film once again after Dunkirk, as does Martin Donovan, who last worked with Nolan in Insomnia. Nolan regular Michael Caine is also onboard, appearing onscreen as opposed to his voice-only cameo as Fortis Leader in Dunkirk.
  • Referenced by...: Fortnite contains a hidden Easter Egg cameo of the Algorithm and its case, hidden in a basement at Steamy Stacks. The "Rainy Night in Tallinn" soundtrack piece plays when you're in proximity of it and the bass drops when you enter its room. The game's Party Royale (freeroam mode) was also the debut for one of the trailers.
  • Release Date Change: For a while, it was thought that the film was going to be pushed back from its July 17, 2020 release date due to the COVID-19 Pandemic keeping theaters closed. Surprisingly, it did not budge... until June, when it was announced to be moved two weeks later to July 31. A 10th anniversary rerelease of Inception would have taken its place on July 17 to test the water after theaters reopen (it was moved as well). TENET was then announced to move again, to August 12. A few days after a decision to delay it indefinitely, Warner Bros. announced that they would start releasing the movie in international territories starting August 26, with the US release starting on September 3 in select cities.
  • Shrug of God: Nolan and company teased that Robert Pattinson's character may (not) be named "Neil". The film confirms that he goes by Neil.
  • Voice-Only Cameo: The heavy breathing in the film score, meant to stand for Sator, is director Nolan's own breathing.
  • What Could Have Been: Longtime Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer was initially set to compose the soundtrack, but then he became unavailable due to being very busy, with No Time to Die, Wonder Woman 1984, Top Gun: Maverick, Dune and Hillbilly Elegy. Ludwig Göransson took his place for this film.
  • Working Title: Merry Go Round.


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