Nolan Blew Up a Real Jumbo Jet Because It Was Easier Than VFX

Director Christopher Nolan is renowned for his preference for practical effects over CGI. In that case, it may come as no surprise that – during the production of the highly-anticipated Tenet – Nolan opted to simply blow up a real 747 rather than rely on visual effects.

“I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” Nolan told UK magazine Total Film, via GameRadar. “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.”

According to Nolan the team discovered a stockpile of old planes while location scouting in California, and called the purchase “kind of impulse buying.”

Star Robert Pattinson dubbed the move “so bold to the point of ridiculousness.”

“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!” said the actor.

This isn’t the first time Nolan has insisted on using genuine aircraft for a production; Dunkirk used real Spitfires and a Spanish-manufactured HA-1112 Buchón (a license-built version of the infamous Messerschmitt Bf 109) for its remarkable dogfighting sequences. However, despite rumours Nolan had planned to crash an antique plane during Dunkirk’s production, all destruction scenes in the movie were shot with replicas.

Nolan recently unveiled the second trailer for Tenet, after which leading man John David Washington revealed that he and the other actors were often just as confused about the movie’s plot as fans watching the teaser.

Despite uncertainly around the operation of cinemas worldwide related to the current pandemic, Tenet’s release date still stands at July 17, 2020.


Luke is Games Editor at IGN’s Sydney office. You can find him on Twitter sporadically @MrLukeReilly.

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