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The student news site of Amador Valley High School


The student news site of Amador Valley High School


The student news site of Amador Valley High School


Christopher Nolan’s Tenet traveled back to IMAX 70mm Film 36 months after the COVID-19 pandemic

Christopher Nolan, a renowned filmmaker, is celebrated for his innovative storytelling techniques and penchant for pushing cinematic boundaries, with notable works including “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and “Interstellar.”

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was originally released in IMAX 70mm Film and IMAX® with Laser theaters on September 3, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, pandemic restrictions, coupled with the closure of theaters worldwide, declared it a box office flop.

“Nolan is so particular about having great visuals in all his films, and his sound design is excellent. While watching Tenet, I learned that the movie is based on extreme visuals,” said Ibrahim Riazi (‘24).

Background of Tenet

Tenet is presented by Warner Bros. Pictures and produced by Syncopy. The film casts John David Washington as Protagonist, Robert Pattinson as Neil, Elizabeth Debicki as Kat, Dimple Kapadia as Priya, with Michael Caine as Crosby and Kenneth Branagh as Sator. 

“Christopher Nolan’s movie from 2020, like the pandemic, has been re-released in IMAX, which is cool because it was a perfect movie,” said Keaton Lai (‘24).

The music was composed by Ludwig Göransson, executively produced by Thomas Hayslip, and produced by Emma Thomas, p.g.a., and Christopher Nolan, p.g.a.

“It was cool to see that it’s being re-released, and I hope more Nolan movies get re-released in IMAX, like Inception or Interstellar. That would be cool to see,” said Riazi.

The recent success of Nolan’s Oppenheimer, released on July 21, 2023, emphasized the preference for viewing movies on the largest screen available, as intended by the director for IMAX 70mm Film. Both Oppenheimer and Tenet were filmed using IMAX film cameras.

“IMAX is cool, because it is a giant screen with excellent action scenes. I love how Christopher Nolan never uses CGI,” said Lai.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Tenet premiered in IMAX theaters, many people missed the opportunity to watch the film due to local theater closures amid higher rates of COVID-19 cases. Health concerns made it risky for many to attend movie theaters, while the availability of streaming, digital, and disc options for both old and new movies further reduced theater attendance for Tenet, which was exclusively in theaters.

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  • In San Francisco, the IMAX at AMC Theatres in Metreon emerged as the sole Bay Area venue where numerous individuals sought to experience “Tenet” in IMAX 70mm for a limited time, with ticket prices ranging from $13 to $27.18 depending on discounts.

  • Tenet was originally the most anticipated movie of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Tenet was Christopher Nolan’s final film in his relationship with Warner Bros.

  • Movie theaters gave special notice to moviegoers about the Tenet reissue showtime when buying food and drinks at the concessions.

“COVID impacted the movie theaters, since people turned to streaming platforms and other digital ways to view films,” said Sanya Gupta (‘24).

Impact of IMAX

This year, Warner Bros. Entertainment and IMAX Corporation announced that Tenet will travel back to IMAX as a reissue in 11 participating IMAX 70mm Film locations worldwide, nine in the United States, on February 23, 2024, for one week only. 

“IMAX is a higher-quality, wider format with a better resolution, and I feel like I’m living inside that,” said Dasarathi Narayanan (’24).

People had their first chance to see it in IMAX 70mm Film after the fears of spreading COVID-19 in 2020. This reissue had a 5-minute special trailer look of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two attached in the same IMAX film reel.

“The action from The Dark Knight Trilogy and Oppenheimer movies Nolan wrote to design that project how different people felt, and even though he has the opening credit to the issue, he’s still known for his blockbusters,” said Narayanan.

Nolan specifically envisioned IMAX 70mm Film as the format for his movies shot with IMAX film cameras, offering superior resolution at approximately 18K compared to IMAX’s dual laser projection in 4K. Both formats support screening scenes in IMAX’s 1:43:1 Expanded Aspect Ratio, which is equivalent to a 4:3 aspect ratio.

“It’s fantastic that Tenet was being re-released because it’s very visually like a sound and visually new film. It is a good move to see it in theaters, mainly because it was released during the pandemic, and not many people saw it in theaters,” said Riazi.

The Bigger Picture

When Tenet earned $365M in the worldwide box office with a $205M budget as of spring 2021, it had few re-releases that year only in other IMAX 70mm Film locations that were closed due to the pandemic, like AMC Theatres at Lincoln Square in New York City, NY, and Universal Cinema AMC Theatres at CityWalk Hollywood in Universal City, CA

“As someone who enjoys films and complicated storylines, it took me two or three watches to understand a lot of what’s even going on in Tenet,” said Lai

In February 2024, the theatrical run of the Tenet Reissue earned almost $1M. As of February 29, 2024, every showtime in all 11 participating locations had the IMAX auditoriums nearly full, making the reissue a success.

“Many pandemic restrictions were placed on movie production and budgeting. It also enhanced how people watch films nowadays on streaming, where they watch movies that may harm box office collections,” said Audrey Combs (‘24).

In the Bay Area, AMC Theatres at Metreon in San Francisco, CA was one of the 11 locations to screen the Tenet Reissue in IMAX 70mm Film. Historically, San Francisco was one of the four U.S. locations that screened Tenet in IMAX 70mm Film in its release on September 3, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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