All the challenges potentially stopping Tenet being released next month

·5-min read
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

From Digital Spy

Tenet would likely still have been an event release in a 'normal' year because it's a new Christopher Nolan movie and that rare thing: an original blockbuster.

But Nolan could not have imagined when he was busy crashing real planes and confusing Robert Pattinson (as well as the rest of us) just how much of an event release Tenet would become in 2020.

As things stand on June 11, Tenet is still set to come out in cinemas on July 17, a release date it's stayed at despite every other 2020 summer blockbuster being delayed due to the current global situation.

Cinemas in the US and UK are still closed though with around a month left until its planned release, so will Tenet actually be released in cinemas on July 17?

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

Last month, Deadline reported that Warner Bros needs "at least 80%" of the world's cinemas to be open, including in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as those represent a hefty 25% of a movie's opening weekend.

Tenet has a reported budget of $200 million and for the studio to release it on July 17, it needs to be released on more than 30,000 screens worldwide, including 3,500 cinemas in the US.

Fortunately for Warner Bros, cinemas in California have been given the OK to reopen if they follow strict guidelines from June 12, although it's reported that most cinemas likely won't open in the state until later this month at the earliest.

That's two of the three key locations for Tenet to be released on July 17 and there is apparently a plan in place if New York hasn't reopened.

Elsewhere in the world, some countries have already reopened their cinemas, while others have plans in place to be open either this month or in early July, such as in the UK, France and Italy.

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

So it seems as though enough cinemas will have reopened for Tenet to be released.

If things stay as they are, Nolan's movie won't even be the first new release with Unhinged and The Broken Hearts Gallery both set for US cinemas on July 1 and 10, respectively.

But those movies aren't blockbusters and wouldn't be expected to set the box office alight even in a 'normal' year.

Just because cinemas are open, it doesn't mean Tenet will be released, even if those other movies come out as planned.

Cinemas will be different to the ones we went to earlier in the year. With social distancing plans in place, there will be strict limits on amount of people allowed in one screen and staggered times to ensure fewer people in the cinema.

That will undoubtedly impact on the box office performance for Tenet and other blockbusters, even before factoring in whether or not people will want to go back to the cinema in the current circumstances.

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

The benefit for Tenet will be a lack of competition with Mulan the only other major release around. It could be that cinemas in July will just have several screens showing each movie, with little room for anything else.

But Tenet still needs to perform at the box office because of its $200 million budget.

Warner Bros will be hoping more for Inception numbers ($830 million worldwide) than Dunkirk numbers ($527 million). That will be tricky even without major competition, especially as original sci-fi is always a difficult sell.

It'll be a risk to release Tenet in July, but one movie has to be the 'first blockbuster to be released since the global crisis'.

There's a strong case to be made that Tenet is best placed to be that movie. The prospect of a new Nolan movie is an exciting one and it seems fitting that Nolan (being a huge supporter of cinemas) will be the director to bring audiences back.

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

Of course, Warner Bros wouldn't want Tenet to only be a mid-level box office performer, but it would be less of a risk for Tenet to underperform than fellow Warner Bros release, Wonder Woman 1984.

If that underperforms (especially compared to the first movie), then it affects the chances of a third movie and potentially the chances of more female-fronted comic book movies in the future.

The same goes for Disney's Mulan – still set for July 24 – and the effect its box office performance could have on the prospect of future blockbusters with diverse casts.

Tenet will be a one-off and Nolan's future will be safe, even if the movie doesn't quite land as he hopes it will, and the measure of its success is lower than other upcoming blockbusters as it's an original property.

With the recent trailer ending with "coming soon" as opposed to July 17, it could be that Warner Bros are still hedging their bets when it comes to Tenet.

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

Right now though, it looks like everything is set for Tenet to be released next month, so we can all start to work out what time inversion is.

But if it moves in the coming weeks, all bets are off for the rest of the year's blockbusters.

Tenet is currently scheduled for release on July 17.

The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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