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Christopher Nolan Bought a Real 747 for Tenet Just to Crash It

on May 26, 2020, 6:32pm

For being one of the most anticipated films of 2020, Christopher Nolan’s new movie Tenet has kept a surprising amount of its plot, not to mention on-set details, under wraps. Not even Robert Pattinson, one of its main stars, could explain what the flick is about in his absurd GQ cover story. It’s only now, mere weeks until the summer blockbuster will be released, that Nolan has finally shared a trivia-like teaser: apparently he purchased a very real 747 for Tenet… just to crash the plane for a dramatic scene.

“I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” he told Total Film. “We started to run the numbers… It became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size, and perform this sequence for real in camera, rather than build miniatures or go the CG route.”

Naturally, the director told the production team to go ahead and purchase an actual 747 — not a fiberglass replica or a few life-size pieces of one, but the enormous Boeing plane in its entirety. Looking back on it all, Nolan laugh and admitted it’s “a strange thing to talk about” because it’s “a kind of impulse buying.”

This is one of those things few directors could pull off, nevermind get the opportunity and funding to do. Even Pattinson was shocked by the decision. “You wouldn’t have thought there was any reality where you would be doing a scene where they just have an actual 747 to blow up! It’s so bold to the point of ridiculousness,” he told the magazine. “I remember, as we were shooting it, I was thinking, ‘How many more times is this even going to be happening in a film at all?’”


Last week was a busy one for Nolan. After surprising NYU graduates over Zoom during their commencement ceremony, he dropped a new trailer for Tenet that gives us a better look at what to expect from John David Washington as he tries to prevent World War III from happening by manipulating time. It gives us more to ruminate on compared to its teaser trailer, but it still leaves us wondering what exactly will go down in the Dunkirk follow-up. Hey, at least there’s less than two months to go until it drops on July 17th.