Report: Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' will need '80% of cinemas' open to keep release slot

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Tenet (Credit: Warner Bros)

There is an awful lot riding on Christopher Nolan's new time-bending action thriller Tenet.

Not only is it his first movie since 2017's Dunkirk, but it's hoped that it will be the summer blockbuster that brings people back to the multiplexes – albeit in a reduced capacity – following relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown.

But a new report from Deadline suggests that Nolan and his studio Warner Bros will face a significant struggle.

It cites sources which say that in order for it to keep its 17 July release slot, 80% of screens across the world will have to be open.

Read more: Will UK cinemas open in July?

That translates to around 33,500 screens in all across the globe being back up and running.

If this isn't the case, the release date, which has been clung onto since lockdown began worldwide in March, will have to be delayed along with countless others.

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The pressure is also mounting because the movie cost a staggering $205 million (around £168 million) to make, and the usual channels of promotion – a glittering premiere, a festival debut and the cast and director embarking on a lengthy press tour – are closed for the foreseeable future.

Though the espionage thriller, which stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh, would have the advantage of being the only new movie currently out there.

There's also the matter of the studio's other movies, meaning that if Tenet moves its release date, then Wonder Woman 1984's 14 August date would likely to be co-opted, shunting the superhero sequel back to December, with no guarantee that Tenet would be able to make a new date in August either.

Tenet (Credit: Warner Bros)

“Warners is literally assessing the situation daily with medical experts and watching exhibition reo-penings closely,” reckons the industry bible.

It also adds that Nolan has a 'first-dollar gross' deal with the studio of a sturdy 20%, meaning that the director is making money from the very first day of release, not from when the studio turns its profit, so Warner Bros has further incentive to have the film playing as widely as possible.

Read more: Inside the Universal vs. Cinemas dispute

However, the industry bible adds that Warner is 'certainly not going to put the greater movie-going public in danger' in order to release the movie.

Other major 2020 movies, including new Bond film No Time To Die and Marvel's Black Widow, have been substantially delayed by the worldwide lockdown, which is slowly beginning to ease in some of the countries which were hit by the pandemic first.

Showcase in the UK has said last week that it is working towards a July re-opening plan with social distancing measures, with Vue Cinemas also plotting a similar course.

A spokesman for the UK Cinema Association said: “On the basis of our understanding of the safeguards that will need to be in place before cinemas can safely open, most venues will be ready to do so by the end of June.

“The suggestion that this might be considered around 4 July for cinemas in England is therefore welcome.”