We expect Christopher Nolan to deliver epic thrillers full of mind-bending visuals like an entire city rising and bending into the sky or an ocean planet dominated by towering waves. Apparently, that is not exactly what we’ll get from Tenet when it eventually opens in theaters. A profile of the film in ICG Magazine reveals that while the movie has a classic Nolan concept (involving spies and time travel) it also has far fewer visual effects shots than you would expect.

Tenet editor Jennifer Lame puts the film’s number of VFX shots at “fewer than 300.” In this portion of his interview, Nolan himself says the movie has fewer effects shots than your typical rom-com:

Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Jackson was responsible for coming up with our safety net. We wanted it all in-camera, but if it couldn’t be done, what choices are there in postproduction? I like to say Andrew kind of bid himself out of a job because he helped us achieve such an enormous amount practically. The visual side of the film is huge in scale, but our VFX shot count is probably lower than most romantic comedies.

For sake of comparison, Interstellar has about 850 VFX shots (although some of those were created in-camera), roughly triple the number in Tenet.

I sincerely doubt Tenet will disappoint audiences in the spectacle department. There’s plenty you can do in-camera, and Nolan did stuff like crash a real full-size jumbo jet for one sequence, in lieu of recreating it in a computer. Just like he’s fanatical about movie theaters, Nolan’s very particular about recreating whatever he can on the set, one reason his movies have that a convincing and realistic texture that his fans adore. Tenet and its 300 VFX shots are currently scheduled to open in American theaters on September 3.

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