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Christopher Nolan Says He Crashed a Real 747 in 'Tenet' Because It Was Cheaper Than Using CG

“It became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size,” director says in interview


Christopher Nolan isn’t giving away any secrets about his latest film “Tenet,” but he was proud to boast about a stunt in which the crew blew up a real 747 plane because he said it would actually be cheaper than doing the same stunt with CGI.

The latest trailer for “Tenet” concluded with a scene in which a grounded plane crashes into a hangar, and Nolan explained in a recent interview with Total Film that the stunt wasn’t a model or a replica and especially wasn’t digitally made.

“I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” Nolan 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.”

“Tenet” star John David Washington teased the excitement of watching the stunt in his recent interview on “Fortnite” where the latest trailer premiered. And Pattinson also told Total Film that he was blown away by what was accomplished.

“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,” Pattinson said. “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?'”

Nolan has always been one to prioritize real stunts over CGI creations, but the budget for “Tenet” is reportedly $200 million, so even this stunt surely didn’t come all that cheap.

“It’s a strange thing to talk about – a kind of impulse buying, I suppose,” Nolan said in the interview. “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.”

“Tenet” is still on track to open in theaters on July 17. Check out the latest trailer for the film here.
Director Christopher Nolan has become well-known for blasting audiences’ brains with mind-bending, over-the-top spectacles. His latest, “Dunkirk,” is capturing critical acclaim — but how does it stack up to his other efforts? Here's TheWrap's definitive ranked list of his movies.Getty Images
10. "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)
That you can’t understand a damn thing Bane says is the least of this movie’s problems. It’s heavy social politics and bleak ideologies of hope in the modern day are a drag for a superhero movie, and Nolan’s twists and parables strain credulity.
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9. "Interstellar" (2014)
On the trajectory of Nolan movies getting more and more bogged down in their complications, “Interstellar” is probably the pinnacle. It has its poignant moments — Matthew McConaughey’s despair-wracked sobs are pretty unforgettable — but gets lost in time travel, temporal displacement, global warming, interpersonal drama and a weird sometimes-documentary style. None of the ideas gets the right amount of attention and the whole thing is a bit of a mess.
8. "Insomnia" (2002)
It's really the performances this remake of a Norwegian film work. Robin Williams delivers some of the best dramatic work of his career as the primary suspect in the murder of a teenage girl in an Alaska town. It’s more of a mid-budget stepping stone ahead of "Batman Begins," but Al Pacino slowly losing his grip on reality ratchets up the tension.
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7. "Following" (1998)
Many have labeled “Following” as just a student film. It’s better than that. Nolan's debut feature features his penchant for rules and brisk pacing. The story concerns a man who follows people around and becomes protege of a petty house thief (who shares a name with an "Inception" character, Cobb). And this Cobb has philosophies about creating chaos that are a dry run for The Joker’s craving to watch the world burn.
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6. "Inception" (2010)
This is Nolan’s “Vertigo,” a movie that combines everything that has defined his career into one ambitious opus. He takes the world of dreams and applies his signature rules and rigid structure into a bombastic, mind-bending thriller that's sometimes awe-inspiring and sometimes maddeningly exhausting with its exposition.
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5. "Batman Begins" (2005)
Nolan reinvigorated the onscreen character of Batman with a more intimate look at Bruce Wayne’s origins. The more serious take on the hero. Thanks to Nolan’s focus on a man figuring out how to be a symbol rather than just punching bad guys, he helped make “Batman Begins” a template for superhero movies hoping to be more realistic and less cartoonish. And having Liam Neeson in your movie doesn't hurt.
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4. "Memento" (2000)
The movie that first really started to tip people off to Nolan is a noir-esque mystery told in reverse, with Guy Pearce's detective unable to form new short-term memories. The movie’s construction keeps the audience as confused as protagonist Leonard, but once it all comes together, the frightening story of how people manipulate each other, and themselves, blows minds in the best way.
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3. "The Prestige" (2006)
Michael Caine’s three rules in “The Prestige” could also define Nolan’s filmmaking. Above all, Nolan is a showman who stages something elaborate and magical and then wants to show you how it’s done. Fittingly, “The Prestige” is Nolan’s most twist-filled and rewatchable film.
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2. "The Dark Knight" (2008)
It’s bolstered by Heath Ledger’s otherworldly, swan song of a performance, but “The Dark Knight” redefined grizzly, post-9/11 neo-noir. Its twists, moral choices and provocative themes on heroism upped the games for superhero movies and blockbusters for all time.
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1. "Dunkirk" (2017)
Nolan’s sprawling WWII epic is quite possibly his simplest movie. Despite its enormous scale and running three tales in parallel with some non-linear storytelling, the minimal use of dialogue and powerful performances makes “Dunkirk” incredibly tense and human. It's a different kind of war movie -- and Nolan accomplishes a lot by holding back (some) of his usual complexity.
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