‘Tenet’ Star Kenneth Branagh Will Only Return to Movie Theaters On One Condition

Ever since movie theaters closed in March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Christopher Nolan has held firm that Tenet would be the film to see when they reopen. Reopening is about to begin with theater chains like AMC, Cinemark and Regal debating what their policies for mask wearing, social distancing and disinfecting between shows would be. Tenet star Kenneth Branagh has some thoughts on this too.

Tenet: John David Washington
John David Washington | Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Pictures

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Branagh was a guest on Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review podcast on June 12 to promote his film, Artemis Fowl, which premiered on Disney+ that day. Looking ahead to his other summer movie, Branagh shared his thoughts on releasing Tenet to movie theaters. Tenet is currently scheduled to open July 31.

Theaters must do this to even consider showing ‘Tenet’

In March, it was uncertain when it would be safe to attend movie theaters again. Films scheduled from March to June postponed their releases. Some big films, like The King of Staten Island and Greyhound, opted for a VOD release. Nolan held onto his July 17 release date longer than any other filmmaker or studio.

They ultimately postponed Tenet two weeks but will show Inception for its 10th anniversary. Branagh remains confident they will only move forward with the release if movie theaters prove to be 100 percent safe. 

Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh | Jack Taylor/Getty Images

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“I know that it will depend on two things: [one,] the willingness of people to take what we hope will be a risk free invitation to go to the cinema,” Branagh told Kermode and Mayo. “It must be, otherwise they mustn’t go and we mustn’t do it.”

As long as it’s safe, ‘Tenet’ is worth seeing in a movie theater

Nolan films sequences in his movies in IMAX specifically to champion the theatrical experience. Tenet also has such sequences, but it’s more than the spectacle that makes Nolan films worth seeing in a movie theater.

movie theaters reopening
AMC theaters reopens July 15 | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

If it is risk free in terms of personal health then I think the second part of the equation is it’s got to be a great movie. I think Chris Nolan has done something pretty remarkable with Tenet. If there was ever a reason to go back to the cinema to see a story that is born to be enjoyed with big images, that’s the one. It’s all the things you want from cinema. It’s broadly popular and entertaining but it takes the audience’s intelligence, assumes they want to be stretched and informed and entertained as well.

Kenneth Branagh, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review podcast, 6/12/2020

Christopher Nolan reminds people why movies are great

Part of Nolan’s insistence on opening Tenet in July is his belief in the medium of Cinema. He doesn’t want to see streaming take over all of Hollywood. Branagh thinks a cinema devotee like Nolan could be what people need to remind them the value of going to the movie theater.

Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington | Warner Bros. Pictures

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“I take my hat off to him in his complete devotion to cinema,” Branagh said. “That devotion at this time might be that extra bit of glue that gets us back into the communal experience which I miss hugely, and I shall be first in the queue for that picture.”