Update: Tenet is playing at Montclair’s Mission Tiki Drive-In, which is just over the Los Angeles County line, in San Bernadino.
Watching the trailer is about as close to seeing Tenet as Los Angeles film fans are likely to get, unless they want to drive outside the county.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is now playing “nationwide” but not in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Warner Brothers has opted not to release the film to drive-ins in markets, like Los Angeles, where where walk-in cinemas remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the latest guidelines from Governor Newsom provide a framework for gradually reopening hardtop theatres after certain criteria have been met, Los Angeles has so far failed to jump the hurdles, in terms of number of cases and percentage of testings coming back positive.
Warner Bros. policy restricting drive-ins – which remain the safest way to view movies – is apparently an attempt to prod the reopening of indoor theatres by protecting their financial bottom line from outdoor screenings (which nowadays include not only traditional drive-ins but also pop-ups in parking lots and other venues).
However, there are still legitimate concerns about the potential for community spread in theatres, which cannot be washed away by longer cleaning times between screenings, which don’t affect the real means of viral transmission: respiratory droplets. Running theatres at 25% or 50% capacity to maintain social distance should help, but ultimately ventilation is the recognized “cure” for this disease. Unfortunately, circulating in fresh air is difficult in a cinema, which cannot simply open a window, and modern air-conditioning recycles indoor air, which has led to infections. As an article in Slate noted:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that, to prevent against airborne infections, indoor spaces should have between six and 12 full cycles of new air per hour. (Isolation units in hospitals are built to this standard.) But most buildings are only capable of one to two changes per hour, says Ed Nardell, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That means airflow in these spaces is pretty minimal, with fewer chances of dispersing COVID-19 droplets.
Maybe it’s time for cinemas to replace air-conditioners with swamp coolers.