After months of hype and confusion, Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet is finally headed to theaters – in select locations. The film will open where it can in the U.S. next week, but this week, it bows overseas. Warner Bros. obviously would’ve preferred to release this thing worldwide all at once, but since that was an impossibility, they’re hedging their bets. So how is the potential Tenet box office looking outside the U.S.? Well…
According to Deadline, when Tenet opens this week in the UK, Korea, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, and Spain this week, it stands to take in $25 million. That’s not bad, but it’s not exactly worth jumping up and down over. For comparison, Peninsula, a much smaller movie with a lot less hype, took in $20.8 million worldwide when it opened recently.
Of course, we’re in a weird new world now, and box office hauls aren’t going to be what they used to be. For instance, in Korea, Tenet hosted previews last weekend, and took in about $717,000 in previews on 590 screens, which, according to Deadline, “was off by 70% from the previous session” in the same market. In total, there should be about 40 markets playing the film come this weekend. And then there will be the U.S. to consider.
The movie can’t open everywhere in the States – many states aren’t ready yet, and it was recently reported that Warner Bros. is limiting where the film can screen in drive-ins (the story goes that WB doesn’t want the movie playing at drive-ins in markets where indoor theaters aren’t open, which just sounds all kinds of dumb). Nolan films usually do very well at the box office, but Tenet has an uphill battle: Warners reportedly spent about $400 million on the film’s production and marketing, which means it needs to earn about $800 million to break even.
In the pre-COVID days, that would probably be easy-peasy for Nolan and company. But here, in a world where the coronavirus is still very much lingering, it’s hard to say how this is going to play out. While some theaters in the U.S. are open right now, it appears the big movie business at the moment is coming from drive-ins (Business Insider says the recently released Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged earned most of its money so far from five drive-in venues), and if WB really does plan to limit drive-in screenings, it could hurt them in the long run.
In related news, no virus is too deadly for risk-taker Tom Cruise, who recently went to see Tenet on the big screen and even posted a video about it. Cruise’s “review” of Tenet? “Big movie. Big screen. Loved it.” Put that on the poster, baby!
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