“Tenet,” the new spy thriller due in movie theaters Wednesday, has all the ingredients of a summer blockbuster. Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight trilogy and “Dunkirk” is a respected director. The cast is led by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, bankable actors. And, the movie is backed by a heavyweight studio in Warner Brothers.
And, the good news is movie production and some movie theaters have been allowed to reopen in California after 13 weeks in mothballs due to the coronavirus pandemic. In some other parts of the country, the industry is still closed.
The stakes for “Tenet” director Nolan and the industry couldn’t be higher. Nolan reportedly has claimed the film has the power to get the public out of quarantine and into movie theaters, but the gamble is a big one.
Whether it works will mean dollars and cents for Los Angeles County’s movie production industry, which employs 5,000 small mom-and-pop businesses and 260,000 people. The losses to the industry globally from the stop down are estimated at $5 billion according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But life in the industry and for movie fans will be very different as theaters reopen and production resumes. Movie theater chains are in deep financial crisis. AMC Entertainment, for example, has warned of a possible bankruptcy filing. And, the industry will have to spend money to make money as restrictions are lifted, removing seating so that the audience can socially distance, for example. Movie fans will have to get used to timed seatings for entering theaters and watching while wearing a mask, unless they are eating popcorn, of course.
Other shocking changes for Hollywood movie production are in the offing. Sex scenes are out of the picture, and those big battle scenes will have to go as well, or be developed by computer programmers instead.
“I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of scenes written for a romance, close physical contact between actors at least for the immediate future,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA.