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‘Tenet’ Crew Bought a Real Boeing 747 to Blow Up Because It’s ‘More Efficient’ Than VFX

Robert Pattinson calls the practical explosion "so bold to the point of ridiculousness."



Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan is well known for opting for practical effects over CGI, but he’s taking that preference to new extremes in his upcoming espionage epic “Tenet.” A key sequence in the film features a Boeing 747 airplane crashing into a building and exploding. Naturally, Nolan purchased a real Boeing 747 to blow up instead of relying on visual effects to pull off the stunt.

“I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” Nolan said to Total Film magazine. “However, while scouting for locations in Victorville, California, the team discovered a massive array of old planes. 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.”

“It’s a strange thing to talk about – a kind of impulse buying, I suppose,” Nolan added. “But we kind of did, and it worked very well, with Scott Fisher, our special-effects supervisor, and Nathan Crowley, the production designer, figuring out how to pull off this big sequence in camera. It was a very exciting thing to be a part of.”

Robert Pattinson told GQ magazine earlier this month that every set piece in “Tenet” feels like the climax of an action movie, and that appears to be the case with the Boeing 747 explosion sequence. The action set piece is teased at the end of the official “Tenet” trailer. Pattinson told Total Film magazine the practical Boeing 747 explosion was one of Nolan’s more insane ideas.

“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!” Pattinson said. “It’s so bold to the point of ridiculousness… 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?’”

Warner Bros. is set to release “Tenet” in theaters nationwide July 17. The release date could change depending on whether or not enough theaters are re-opened across the country.

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