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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Tenet release ! ~ will Film industry beat Covid ?

Tamil Nadu has high no. of literates – yet ‘dream factory’  has dominated them in every sphere.  A small time hero having acted in couple of films starts nurturing hopes and vision of becoming a political leader and in felicitations, his fans might shout ‘future CM’. Actors by and large have enjoyed larger than life image and cult status.  While a popular actor can travel by a train or walk on the streets in Kerala, such a thing cannot happen for a small hero too – that is the fan following. 

In my school days in late 1970s – there used to hot exchanges between benches -  Sunil Gavaskar Vs Gundappa Vishwanath; Bjorn Borg Vs John Mcenroe; Illayaraja Vs MS Viswanathan; Rajni Vs Kamal; Balachander Vs Barathiraja.  Those days films would be released on Fridays – on Thursdays, one can see posters being pasted on streets.  Deepavali would be a bonanza for movie goers – a dozen films or more were released including – Viswaroopam (Sivaji); Varumaiyin niram sivappu (Kamal / Balachander); Polladhavan (Rajni); Nizhalgal (Barathiraja).  My knowledge of cinema was slightly above zero and hence was a passive spectator in those arguments ! – one enlightened soul told the group that on Deepavali eve – an hurried Barathiraja telephoned Balachander stating that Deepavali both their films are going to hit silver screen, with both nuclei being ‘unemployment’ one would push the other out !  He went on to add that a non-chalant Balachander responded stating that both their styles were different and hence the stories too would be !   those days, I firmly believed that such a conversation did take place !!

Now too – I can identify a handful of actresses ! (Tamil and almost none in Hindi & English Movies).  Elizabeth Debicki   is an Australian actress. After making her feature film debut in Australian wedding comedy A Few Best Men (2011), she appeared in The Great Gatsby (2013), for which she won an AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and starred in the Sydney Theatre Company's production of The Maids with Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert, for which she received a nomination for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play at the 14th Helpmann Awards.  

Tenet is one of the most spoken off films, partly because of its release getting delayed and now opening during Covid 19 times.  It reportedly is a spy film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who produced it with Emma Thomas. A co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, it stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh.  Nolan took more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet's central ideas for over a decade. Casting began in March 2019, and principal photography took place in Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and United States, starting in May 2019. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot on 70 mm and IMAX. Delayed three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenet is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United Kingdom   and United States now.    

John David Washington is an American actor and former football running back. He played college football at Morehouse College and signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Professionally, Washington spent four years as the running back for the United Football League's Sacramento Mountain Lions. Washington shifted to an acting career like his father, Denzel Washington, and mother, Pauletta Washington. He was part of the main cast of the HBO comedy series Ballers (2015–2019).  

Now read this news from MailOnline -  :  We've sold four tickets today: Britain's cinemas stand deserted as owners pin hopes on Christopher Nolan blockbuster Tenet to revive industry - but Covid rules mean socially-distanced seating and NO pick 'n' mix.  Christopher Nolan's latest film is due for a UK and Ireland release on August 26 after its premier was delayed.  The cinema industry is struggling to return to pre-pandemic ticket sale numbers, experts have been warning.   

All eyes are on Britain's deserted cinemas as they prepare for the first release of a Hollywood film since March, with the industry expecting its worst year at box office in three decades amid the coronavirus pandemic. Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Tenet - starring David John Washington and Robert Pattinson - will hit the big screen on Wednesday, signalling the first test of whether film fanatics are ready to return to cinemas. But cinemas across Britain remain eerily empty as film fans shun theatres up and down the country, plunging the industry further into crisis.  Car parks are deserted and row upon row of seats unfilled as cinemas refuse to serve pick'n'mix amid strict safety measures.

The usually crowded Vue cinema in Watford remained eerily quiet despite social distancing measures in place.  The report adds that just  a handful of people were seen at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square, London.   The rules suggest that auditoriums should be limited to 60% capacity and mass cleaning between each screening is recommended. The document also advises that cinemas avoid screening films that could see audience members engage in 'communal dancing' or 'raise their voices' !  The guidelines say this: 'This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from aerosol transmission'.

Tenet is a spy organization that is established to prevent an apocalyptic third World War from breaking out. The highly-anticipated film was slated for release in mid July, but its premier was postponed multiple times owing to coronavirus.   Cinemas have had to rely on fan favourites including the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises to pull in customers.  Earlier this month Disney pulled the eagerly expected Mulan from upcoming schedules, deciding instead to release it on streaming service Disney+.

Cinemas have been able to open since lockdown restrictions were eased on July 4, however a large number of venues did not immediately do so.  The prevalent rules of social distancing measures in UK  mean customers will have to wear face masks throughout the duration of the film and cinemas are only able to run at 60% capacity.

If Tenet does well then there are still plenty of box-office successes to be had this year. Many studios now have a backlog of blockbusters slated for release, and other highly anticipated movies this year include Marvel's Black Widow, the next installment in the Kingsman franchise and the latest Bond film, Never Say Die.  It is hoped that blockbusters would  end months of darkness in cinemas. Audiences will be high on the sheer energy of the no-expenses-spared action: A bullet-pumping bunker bust, a crash staged using a real Boeing 747 (well, that's one way of getting rid of those retired jumbo jets), and astonishing car chases that enter another dimension.  Even the film's title is a palindrome.

With all the hype – one thing is clear, whether it is risky or healthy – the Hollywood would expect the cine-fans to turn out in large numbers and their risking their lives out, would be a huge relief and much needed oxygen support for those involved in ‘dream factory’.  Be it Tamil, Telegu, Hindi, English or any other language – those involved intend getting richer with the average film-goer risking everything and spending for them.  Whether Covid 19 has damaged that fabric remains to be seen !


With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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