Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has long been observed as the true test for whether audiences would be driven to return to theaters in 2020. If Tenet performs successfully, we could be looking at other film releases, like Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and Dune, keeping their current 2020 release dates. If not, don’t expect to see another blockbuster movie until 2021.
But now that Tenet has finally released its domestic debut, the film grossed 20 million over Labor Day weekend, the kind of outcome that, in normal times, would be seen as a massively disappointing opening for such a popular filmmaker. (Nolan’s previous release, Dunkirk, made over $50 million in domestic ticket sales over its first weekend.)
But these aren’t what you call “normal times.” Perhaps the fact that Tenet’s release is so unprecedented, since it’s happening in the midst of a global pandemic, is enough of a hint that trying to rush and force mass amounts of crowds back to theaters is a terrible plan.
Most industry analysts say the lavishly-produced spy thriller needs to earn $500 million to turn a profit. Tenet is scheduled to remain at the multiplex virtually unchallenged by other mega budget event movies. Warner Bros chairman Toby Emmerich is trying to frame Tenet’s numbers as a ” box office success.”
Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for Boxoffice Pro points out, Nolan’s most dedicated moviegoers live in the country’s cities and suburbs. The sort of locations that remain offline for the time being but whose theatrical outages are expected to be restored in the coming weeks.
The box-office track record of the directors, post Dark Knight movie suggests that Tenet would have probably had a longer-than-usual theatrical tenancy even without COVID-19 running interference on the competition. Robbins continues, “Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, those all had really long runs, those films were in theaters for close to four months. Interstellar and Inception longer than that.”
But can Christopher Nolan’s Tenet still match his pre-pandemic success? Will you be seeing Tenet.