Christopher Nolan’s recently released Tenet has been generating a whole lot of buzz since it hit cinema screens late last week, raking in $20.2 million. The sci-fi thriller is already making its way to the $150 million mark internationally, earning another $78.3 million over the weekend and bringing its worldwide collection to $146.2 million. Warner Bros expressed immense excitement over the box office results, stating the rollout of Tenet will be “a marathon not a sprint”. It said, “There is literally no context in which to compare the results of a film opening during a pandemic with any other circumstance. We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-Covid world would be inequitable and baseless.”
If we were not living through a pandemic, Tenet would have grossed way over its current cumulative figure and also witnessed a full-house opening weekend. “With a significant number of key US states and cities still closed, this is a fair opening,” said David A. Gross, a box office analyst at FranchiseRe. “Business in the US is improving, but large numbers of moviegoers are not back yet. For now, this is as good as it gets,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
Tenet was able to play in about 2,800 cinemas across the country due to most theatres not operating at the moment. Some theatres which are open are also not functioning at their full capacity. Currently, about 65-70% of multiplexes in the US have reopened, though influential markets like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco are still off limits. That likely shaved millions of dollars off of Tenet’s grosses.
Drive-in theaters have been a new trend while indoor cinemas take their time to open. But Warner Bros have issued guidelines that restricted the areas where Tenet can play outdoors. They instructed that the film can only screen at drive-in theaters if indoor venues in that particular city are open. That means drive-ins in Los Angeles and San Francisco, both of which have been making strong ticket sales during the pandemic, didn’t have access to one of the buzziest titles of the year. Tenet is the first major blockbuster to debut in the US after the pandemic forced theaters to close in March. It was originally slated to release in July but was delayed many times due to the increase in covid-19 cases in the US at the time. Other big releases including the likes of Fast and Furious entry F9 and Marvel’s Black Widow have pushed their release dates to late 2020 or 2021.