When is Tenet’s release date? Your guide to Christopher Nolan’s next film

Tenet's opening day has moved once again

Tenet poster

Christopher Nolan, the visionary director behind the Dark Knight Batman trilogy, Inception and Interstellar is back with new mystery adventure Tenet.


At some point, anyway… Akin to the movie’s new time-hopping premise, the new thriller – starring John David Washington – has seen its release date move further back in the calendar. Although originally slated for a release on 17th July, the film’s opening day has been rescheduled on two occasions (so far) due to the coronavirus cinema lockdown. The latest date given being August 2020.

This means film fans based in England will be able to view the next Nolan adventure, with cinemas set to open in the country from 4th July (albeit with social-distancing rules). However, it’s likely admirers of Nolan’s previous works will feel obligated to see the film several times on the big screen to fully appreciate Tenet.

While Nolan ventured into historical drama territory in 2017 with his Second World War film Dunkirk, the award-winning director is returning to sci-fi with Tenet, which focuses on the concept of time “inversion”.

Although Warner Bros has given little away regarding plot, we know Tenet follows the Protagonist – a secret agent battling to prevent World War Three.

Here’s everything we know so far about Tenet.

When is Tenet’s release date?

Update: Tenet is now being released in cinemas on Wednesday, 12th August 2020.

Although the Christopher Nolan blockbuster was originally scheduled for UK release on 17th July 2020, Tenet’s debut has unsurprisingly been pushed back in light of cinemas re-opening later than expected.

Cinemas in England are set to open on 4th July 2020, albeit with many social-distancing measures. These are expected to include one-way queuing systems, calls for viewers to frequently wash their hands and for food not to be shared.

Details of reopenings in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be announced.

It was also in the news recently that Nolan reportedly didn’t want the movie to be delayed at all. It’s also not entirely implausible that it’ll be pushed back again – Wonder Woman 1984 was moved from August to October.

Either way, we’ll update this page if Tenet’s release date makes a last-minute change.

Is there a trailer for Tenet?

The first Tent trailer was first shown exclusively in cinemas, before finally making its way online in December 2019. Since then, its racked up more than 20 million views, showing anticipation is high.

A second trailer premiered on Fortnite in May 2020, although notably it doesn’t include a release date, prompting suspicion that Tenet could be delayed if cinemas have not completely reopened following the coronavirus pandemic.

What does Tenet mean?

Tenet is “a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy,” according to Google.

Of course, the word itself may not actually have relevance on the plot of the movie. Rather, it could well be something completely random that Nolan is using to throw us off the scent.

Interestingly, Tenet is a palindrome i.e. a word that reads the same backwards as it does forwards. Given that the film plays around with time travel, including by showing action sequences in reverse, this could come into play at some point…

Who is in the cast of Tenet?


Nolan’s films have historically featured top Hollywood stars and Tenet is no exception, with its cast including both Nolan regulars and first-time collaborators.

The leading role will be played by rising star John David Washington, best known for his role in Spike Lee’s awards contender BlacKkKlansman. He is also the son of Hollywood royalty, Denzel Washington.

Co-starring alongside him is Robert Pattinson, whose career has seen a meteoric rise lately thanks to acclaimed indie fare like The Lighthouse and, of course, his inheritance of the iconic Batman role.

Elizabeth Debicki will also appear in her first collaboration with Nolan, whose recent credits include Steve McQueen’s Widows and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Amongst those returning to work with the director are Michael Caine (who has featured in five Nolan films) and Kenneth Branagh, who played a key role in Dunkirk.

The cast also includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Clémence Poésy (The Tunnel) and Dimple Kapadia (Rudaali). 

What is Tenet’s plot?


Good question! The plot for Tenet has been kept very quiet, as tends to be the case for a Christopher Nolan film, but we do know a few scarce details.

“Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time,” says the film’s official synopsis.

Yes indeed, Tenet looks set to play with the laws of time in new and interesting ways, as shown off in the first trailer which sees some impressive stunts rewinding back and forth in a very intriguing way.

It might be notable that we don’t even know the name of the main character in Tenet, only that he is played by up and coming actor John David Washington, as some fans speculate it could be connected to one of Nolan’s previous films.

The actor’s comments about how Tenet is an “in-law” to Inception has only fuelled those theories. Could the central character be somehow linked to another character from Nolan’s cinematic CV?


The trailers also make reference to themes regarding death and the afterlife, proving once again that Nolan isn’t afraid to tackle big ideas in his ambitious blockbusters.

We can safely assume that the storyline will be kept largely under wraps until the film’s release, especially as even its co-star Robert Pattinson was only allowed to read the script while locked in a room.

Kenneth Branagh, whose character is “a Russian who communes with the future” told Total Film that he could be the film’s antagonist but it’s hard to tell from the plot.

“Given the nature of it, as Chris to some extent sort of reinvents the wheel here, a lot of people start engaging with John David Washington’s character in both expected ways…so you might expect me to be an antagonist…but then (the story) doesn’t quite follow what you expect as the story plays out,” he said.

The second trailer also includes Pattinson’s character suggesting they crash a plane into a building – which is later teased in the trailer.

Washington has revealed that Nolan really did crash a real-life plane into a real-life building, in an interview with CinemaBlend.

“That was a real plane, and that was a real building that they crashed that plane into,” he said. “And we, cast and crew, all witnessed it. It was epic! It was incredible, we all cheered and hurrayed and hurrahed when they yelled cut after Chris felt like he got it. What you saw is really what happened – at least the night I was there.”

Tenet YouTube Screenshot

We also know the film has been a truly international production, with stints filming across Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Who is composing the Tenet score? 

Surprisingly, not Hans Zimmer! This will be the first time that Zimmer has not worked on a Nolan project since The Prestige in 2006.

Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson will be taking on the musical mantle, adding to a CV which includes a Best Original Score Oscar for Black Panther.

Nolan will be reunited with a number of his other frequent collaborators on the film, however – including cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema.

The latest news on Tenet

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in April Ann Sarnoff said: “We are committed to – and are excited about – releasing Tenet in theaters this summer or whenever theaters reopen.”

Another report by Deadline suggested that Tenet will also only meet its target if 80 per cent of the world’s theatres reopen.

England is reopening cinemas on 4th July.


If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.