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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ earns modest $20.2M in biggest moviegoing weekend of the pandemic – USA TODAY

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Published 9:39 a.m. ET Sept. 7, 2020

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John David Washington talked with USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt about working with Christopher Nolan on the new film “Tenet.”

USA TODAY

NEW YORK – In a litmus test for American moviegoing during the pandemic, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” brought in an estimated $20.2 million through the holiday weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

The result could be greeted as either the rejuvenation of U.S. cinemas – more Americans went to the movies this weekend than they have in nearly six months – or a reflection of drastically lowered standards for Hollywood’s top blockbusters given the circumstances. 

About 70% of U.S. movie theaters are open; those in the country’s top markets, Los Angeles and New York, remain closed. Theaters that are operating are limiting audiences to a maximum of 50% capacity to distance moviegoers from one another. “Tenet” played in 2,810 North American locations, about three-fourths of what most major releases typically launch in.

Warner Bros. declined to split up U.S. and Canadian box office receipts. Theaters in Canada, where COVID-19 cases are much lower than in the U.S., began showing “Tenet” a week earlier. The film debuted stateside with nightly preview screenings Monday through Wednesday before the official opening on Thursday. The studio included all of those showings in its estimated gross Sunday, along with expected returns for Monday’s Labor Day.

“Tenet” opened stronger in China. It debuted there with $30 million in ticket sales from Friday to Monday. Internationally, “Tenet” has exceeded expectations. In two weeks of release, its overseas total is $126 million, with a global tally thus far of $146.2 million.

Spoilers! Let’s discuss Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending ‘Tenet’ ending

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Few onlookers felt it was possible to gauge how “Tenet” would open. The film, which cost $200 million to make and at least $100 million to market, will need to get close to $500 million to break even.

In the film’s favor: It has the big screen almost entirely to itself. Some multiplexes played “Tenet” as many as 100 times over the weekend. With little else on the horizon, the studio is counting on a long run for “Tenet.” 

Not in the film’s favor: Audiences didn’t love Nolan’s latest time-bender. Moviegoers gave the thriller, starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, a “B” on CinemaScore, the lowest grade for a Nolan release since 2006’s “The Prestige.” Reviews (74% positive on Rotten Tomatoes) have been good but far from overwhelming.

“We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-COVID world would be inequitable and baseless,” a statement from Warner Bros. notes.

Analyzing the film’s performance was virtually impossible, says senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian for data firm Comscore. He acknowledges North America remains a more challenged marketplace than Europe or Asia, but calls it a solid start in what will be lengthy run for “Tenet.” 

“It’s going to take a longer time to assess this,” says Dergarabedian. “The win is just to have movies open.”

Review: Bewildering and dazzling, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ is James Bond by way of a Rubik’s Cube

Spoilers! Why Netflix’s ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ changed the book’s ‘very violent’ ending

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Hollywood is watching closely. With the majority of the top productions delayed until next year, the industry is experimenting with how to release its most expensive movies in the COVID-era. This weekend, Disney also debuted its $200 million live-action “Mulan” remake, but as a $30 purchase for Disney+ subscribers.

Disney on Sunday didn’t share digital returns for “Mulan” – a practice that’s been common among streaming companies and previous anticipated video-on-demand releases like “Trolls World Tour” and “Hamilton.” But “Mulan” is also playing in theaters in some overseas territories. It began with $5.9 million in Thailand, Taiwan, the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia. Next week, it debuts theatrically in its most important market: China.

The release of “Tenet” was also hotly debated, given the health risks associated with indoor gatherings. Several prominent film critics said they wouldn’t review “Tenet” because of ethical concerns.

Theater chains, meanwhile, are struggling to remain solvent. Exhibitors have argued that they need new films to survive. Last weekend offered the first significant opportunity for U.S. cinemas to convince moviegoers to come back. “The New Mutants,” a long delayed “X-Men” spinoff, collected about $7 million in 2,412 locations last weekend. Dipping significantly in its second weekend, its total is now up to $11.6 million.

Fittingly in an upside-down year, the palindromic “Tenet” – a thriller in which time is reversed – essentially began the summer movie season on the weekend it typically ends. Labor Day weekend, this year a historical one at the movies, is usually among the sleepiest weekends of the year at cinemas.

‘I was tortured to death every day’: How ‘Mulan’s Jason Scott Lee got ripped playing villain Böri Khan

What to stream this Labor Day weekend: Disney+’s ‘Mulan,’ Netflix’s ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’

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Christopher Nolan’s Tenet to be released in August – but not in the US – The Guardian

Warner Bros has announced that Christopher Nolans much-anticipated sci-fi thriller Tenet will be released in international markets before the US.
An unusual new strategy will see the film launch in …
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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ Delays August Release – Variety

Warner Bros. has removed “Tenet” from its release calendar, delivering a big blow on the exhibition industry at a time when movie theaters had hoped to peg their re-opening to the late summer debut of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller.

Though necessary given the mass uncertainty over when cinemas across the globe can safely reopen, the decision further complicates Hollywood’s already bumpy plan to revive moviegoing. “Tenet” was originally scheduled to debut on July 17 but was pushed back twice until Aug. 12. It’s unclear when it will now welcome audiences, but the studio plans to announce a new release date “imminently.”

“We will share a new 2020 release date imminently for ‘Tenet,’ Christopher Nolan’s wholly original and mind-blowing feature,” said Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich in a statement. “Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen.”

In a surprise move, Warner Bros. may release “Tenet” overseas before it opens in North America. Though the U.S. and Canada remains the biggest moviegoing market in the world, international cinemas look to be ahead of America in their plans to reopen. Sources at the studio stress they will have to be flexible with its plans to unveil “Tenet,” suggesting the film won’t have a traditional rollout.

“We are not treating ‘Tenet’ like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that,” Emmerich said.

“Tenet,” which stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, is intentionally shrouded in secrecy — and a staggered rollout could raise concerns about piracy and spoilers in a way that could impact demand to see the film. However, it would be welcome news for exhibitors in Europe and Asia, two robust film markets that haven’t had a new Hollywood movie to entice audiences in months. In their plans to reopen, movie theater owners recently expressed concern to Variety that the global box office has all but been “forgotten” by U.S. studios. Previous films from Nolan have earned more than 50% of box office revenues from theaters overseas, and major tentpoles can generate as much as two-thirds of ticket sales from international venues.

But “Tenet” faces a unique caveat in China, the world’s second-largest movie market. Currently, its exhibitors cannot screen movies that exceed two hours in length. “Tenet” runs at just over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Unless the country eases up on that restriction, there’s no sense of when it will be able play in China.

Warner Bros. also announced that “The Conjuring 3” has been postponed to June 4, 2021. The eighth entry in the studio’s horror franchise was schedule to debut in theaters on Sept. 11. However, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” was supposed to have additional shoots in April. Since film production hasn’t been able to resume, it wouldn’t be ready in time for its target release date.

“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world,” Emmerich said. “Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to proliferate, causing us to reevaluate our release dates.”

Other anticipated titles from the studio — including “Wonder Woman 1984” (Oct. 2) and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” remake (Dec. 18) — remain scheduled for 2020. However, they could be moved if coronavirus infections continues to surge. In recent months, the studio also shuffled around opening weekends for  Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights” (June 18, 2021) and “The Batman” with Robert Pattinson (June 25, 2021).

For now, Disney’s “Mulan” is slated to launch on Aug. 21. If that date holds, the live-action remake would be the first tentpole from a major studio to open since the pandemic.

While most studios have postponed their big movies into late 2020 or 2021 and beyond, Nolan has high hopes that “Tenet” can usher audiences back to theaters, which have been closed since March to help stop the spread of coronavirus. For that reason, Warner Bros. had previously decided to incrementally move “Tenet” back weeks at a time, rather than postpone it to a significant degree until a majority of cinemas are able to safety reopen. Now, insiders at Warner Bros. say they could move forward in select U.S. cities where cases of the virus have eased and public health and government officials deem it safe.

It’s still unclear when movie theaters, especially in major markets like New York City and Los Angeles, will be able to resume operations at a large-scale level. When they do reopen, there’s no telling how eager people will be to return to the movies. Warner Bros. shelled out $200 million to produce “Tenet,” not including hefty marketing fees, meaning it’s no small gamble to unveil the film to the masses.

Nolan, whose credits also include “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Interstellar,” wrote and directed the film, about a secret agent tasked with preventing another world war. The cast includes Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh.

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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ Pushed Back Two Weeks as Movie Theaters Ready to Reopen – Rolling Stone

Christoper Nolan’s Tenet, perhaps the most anticipated film of the pre-pandemic 2020 summer movie season, has pushed back its release two weeks as nationwide movie theater chains prepare to reopen their doors.

Tenet was long scheduled to arrive on July 17th, 2020, but will now be released on July 31st. Warner Bros. also announced they will instead rerelease Nolan’s Inception to theaters on July 17th to mark that blockbuster’s 10th anniversary, Variety reports.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closures of movie theaters nationwide and uprooted nearly every film with a summer release date — forcing many, including this weekend’s The King of Staten Island, to video-on-demand or streaming — Tenet remained steadfast to its July 17th release date, which the movie theater industry rallied around as a beacon of hope for their reopening.

However, the most recent Tenet trailer didn’t reiterate the July 17th release date, making it clear the film’s arrival date was in flux. Earlier this week, AMC Entertainment announced plans to open theaters nationwide in July as early as July 10th, when Sony’s Selena Gomez-starring The Broken Hearts Gallery is scheduled to hit theaters. Disney’s Mulan is also currently scheduled for July 24th, the first major film release to test theaters’ coronavirus measures.

“We’re especially thrilled, in this complex and rapidly changing environment, to be bringing Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a global tentpole of jaw-dropping size, scope and scale, to theaters around the world on July 31,” Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement Friday.

“It’s been longer than any of us could’ve imagined since we’ve seen a movie on the big screen, and to acknowledge Chris’ fans as we count down to Tenet‘s opening day, we are also excited to offer his masterpiece Inception in theaters for its 10th anniversary on July 17.”

While Tenet was only pushed two weeks, Warner Bros announced that the Wonder Woman sequel WW84 would be postponed again, from August 14th to October 2nd; the movie originally held a June 5th, 2020 release date.

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