Tenet One Of Nolan’s Lowest Opening Weekends Ever — Has The U.S. Box Office Spoken?

With Tenet being one of Nolan’s lowest opening weekends, should we be concerned?

It has finally happened. Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet, has officially hit theaters. Pandemic be damned, Warner Bros. has opted to finally push this one out, and all eyes are on the U.S. box office numbers for this one. Can a film successfully be launched in the time of COVID? If there was someone who could realistically test this, it is Christopher Nolan. After all, he is one of the only remaining filmmakers who can command a large budget for an original idea.

So, how did Tenet actually do in theaters? It made an estimated $20 million in its opening weekend. It doesn’t sound like a very promising start, and that’s because it’s a lot lower than most of his movies. His highest-opening film, The Dark Knight Rises, took in $160.8 million, and his most recent film, Dunkirk, brought in $50.5 million in its opening weekend.

Clearly, COVID has had a mammoth effect on the industry. Tenet is a film that, under normal circumstances, would have made at least twice as much as it did now. Hell, I’d argue that it would have likely made Inception numbers at opening. But, at $20 million, does this mean that Warner Bros. and other studios should start panicking? 

While we live in unpredictable times, I don’t think Warner Bros. is worrying. Yet. In a recent interview with THR, which was released prior to the film hitting U.S. theaters, Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff discussed their strategy.

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“As the summer unfolded, we started thinking about more innovative ways of releasing the movie,” Sarnoff said. “What if we didn’t put everything up front toward the opening weekend? Theaters were very upfront about saying they could give us three to four times as many screens as normal. So that started to change our thinking. We are happy with where we are. Some markets still aren’t open, but it is a marathon and not a sprint.”

From her comments, it’s clear that they know they can’t expect to ride the opening weekend of Tenet as they would under normal circumstances. We are living in a time where we have to start thinking unconventionally about how we handle releases. Given that Tenet is the only big film hitting theaters for the next month, it gives them enough time to keep a steady flow of audience members in the time to come. While this may be pushing it, it could be like old times, where a studio would rely on a movie theater sticking around in theaters for months at a time.

Of course, we’ll have to see how Tenet does in the weeks to come. If it drops down to a $5 million weekend, I think it’ll be a clear indication that theaters are not yet a safe bet for studios. Until then, I think we’ll need to just keep our eyes glued to the actual stats. 

What do you think of Tenet being one of Nolan’s lowest opening weekends? Do you think Warner Bros. should be concerned? Sound off down below!

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SOURCE: Deadline, THR

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