In a key moment for the ravaged box office, Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' launched domestically with USD 20.2 million over the long Labour Day weekend as more U.S. cinemas reopened, after being shut for nearly six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the tally includes previews both in the U.S. and Canada.
In pre-pandemic times, a domestic start of USD 20.2 million would be cause for major anxiety, also it's Nolan's lowest since 'The Prestige' in 2006. But considering current circumstances which include limited capacity and the fact that only 65 per cent of the U.S. market is open - 'Tenet' was always expected to come in well below Nolan's more recent films. And the movie scored the top gross domestically of any film that's rolled out since theatres reopened.
In announcing the grosses, Warner Bros. said, "Domestically, while our results show positive like-for-like theatre indicators compared to previous films such as 'Dunkirk', 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." Chief box office analyst Shawn Robbins of Boxoffice Pro agreed: "Having the film open is already a major symbolic success, while the financial bottom lines can't be objectively assessed until we have a better idea of how the global recovery is tracking weeks, or even months, down the line." As per The Hollywood Reporter, in overseas -- where many countries have been able to reopen more quickly than the U.S., the narrative is much brighter.
Internationally, 'Tenet' has earned USD 126 million through its first two weekends for an early global total of USD 146.2 million. In China, it grossed USD 30 million to come in No. 2 behind local Chinese war epic 'The Eight Hundred' (some had thought 'Tenet' might do more, but it is still Nolan's biggest opening in the Middle Kingdom.) Warner Bros. believes 'Tenet' will have a longer run in theatres than is usually the case, versus boasting a mega-opening weekend. Most analysts agree, saying the film has a shot at earning $500 million worldwide. If it doesn't, it will likely lose money.
In the COVID-19 era, Nolan's film is the first Hollywood tentpole to brave debuting on the big screen.
Considering 'Tenet's' USD 200 million production budget before marketing, Releasing a big-budget title at the present moment is a huge gamble for Warners,. Among other challenges, Los Angeles and New York City - the country's two largest moviegoing markets, are still off-limits.
Last week, just as 'Tenet 'prepared to open in the U.S., the list of states fully closed in terms of movie theatres narrowed to three (New York, North Carolina and New Mexico) as New Jersey and Maryland opened. States that are only partially open include California, where cinemas are now open in San Diego.
Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh, 'Tenet' received a B CinemaScore.
The movie did big business in Imax theatres, where Tenet earned USD 11.1 million from 43 markets or 14.2 per cent of the total weekend box office.