Warner Bros. Pictures John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in Tenet
Christopher Nolan is hoping Tenet's box office return will bolster the lagging movie theater business.
While the time-bending epic was set up to be the movie of the summer pre-pandemic, the closure of movie theaters across the U.S. kept its domestic box office total quite low compared to what Nolan's used to. The movie did however go on to make almost $350 million worldwide, with most of the revenue coming from overseas where the COVID-19 spread was curbed more successfully than in the U.S.
“Warner Bros. released Tenet, and I’m thrilled that it has made almost $350 million,” Nolan told The Los Angeles Times. “But I am worried that the studios are drawing the wrong conclusions from our release — that rather than looking at where the film has worked well and how that can provide them with much needed revenue, they’re looking at where it hasn’t lived up to pre-COVID expectations and will start using that as an excuse to make exhibition take all the losses from the pandemic instead of getting in the game and adapting — or rebuilding our business, in other words.”
He continued, “Long term, moviegoing is a part of life, like restaurants and everything else. But right now, everybody has to adapt to a new reality.”
Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Robert Pattinson and John David Washington in Tenet
Tenet stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in a mind-bending story that centers on The Protagonist (Washington), who must find a way to stop Kenneth Branagh's Sator from starting World War III through time-manipulation.
Originally scheduled for release on July 17, Warner Bros. delayed the film several times amid the pandemic. Tenet eventually opened over Labor Day Weekend, making it the biggest opening weekend for Hollywood since the coronavirus pandemic shut down movie theaters in March, according to The Associated Press.
The movie made $20.2 million that weekend, well below Nolan's previous opening totals.