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How Will Tenet Being Delayed Again, to August, Affect Theaters Reopening?

trailer screenshot of john david washington in tenet. Warner Brothers.

Well, it seems as if we are going to have to wait just a little bit longer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, and by we, I mean those willing to risk their lives to see the director’s first movie with a non-white main lead.

But in all seriousness, Tenet is a movie a lot of us are excited about (myself included) because Nolan is one of those directors you go to theaters to see. He knows how to use the big screen to its utmost artistic value, and that is worth seeing in a theater—which is what a lot of theaters that are planning on reopening are pinning their hopes on. When you look at the movies that theaters were opening in anticipation for, it was the one-two punch of Tenet and Mulan.

Sadly for them, not only is there word that Mulan may be delayed again, but Warner Bros. Pictures made an official statement, via Variety, saying that if the coronavirus hasn’t calmed down enough by August 12, they might delay the movie again:

Warner Bros. is committed to bringing ‘Tenet’ to audiences in theaters, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it’s time. In this moment what we need to be is flexible, and we are not treating this as a traditional movie release. We are choosing to open the movie mid-week to allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.

Without these big movies to make it worthwhile, will movie theaters that are technically allowed to open see any reason to do so?

Tenet cost around $200 million to make, and Nolan is to receive 20% of its first-dollar gross, so it’s important for its earning potential that theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, three of the biggest moviegoing markets in the United States, are going to be opened up and people are feeling confident to go—especially since, right now, an international box office will likely not be a place studios can look to. So, without 80% of theaters open and ready to go, Tenet stays in its box.

Despite some movies making the shift to VOD, I can understand why something like a Nolan movie and other big audience-getters are being saved for when things are better, but when will that be within this year? Infection rates are already spiking, and while places like New York are entering phase 2 and 3 of reopening, many are still unclear what that means, and people are playing fast and loose with wearing masks, which could just, ultimately, set things back.

It is a daunting situation for most industries, and honestly, I think 2021 is going to be where a lot of these things wind up. It may be summer now, but winter is coming, and with people wanting to be inside—the worst place for people to be together with a virus like this around—who knows when things are really going to be “movie” safe?

(via /Film, image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.