When You Can Watch ‘Tenet’ From The Safety of Your Home

Published on November 5, 2020

Tenet is coming to VOD and Blu-Ray in December. Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated science-fiction epic polarized audiences. Nolan and Warner Bros. were hoping the movie would help theater owners in the United States out during the pandemic. It didn’t.

Tenet will be available in homes starting December 15th. There’s only one special feature available for the home video release: “Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of ‘Tenet’ – An hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.” The film came out in August after several delays caused by the pandemic. The decision to release the film was a controversial choice. Tenet made shy of $350 million worldwide. In the United States, Nolan’s ambitious epic made under $50 million. For a movie that cost over a reported $200 million, it wasn’t a box-office success. Nolan is happy with the result, though.

It is quite an accomplishment for a movie to make $350 million worldwide, which is how Nolan looks at the situation. “Warner Bros. released Tenet, and I’m thrilled that it has made almost $350 million,” he told the LA 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. Long term, moviegoing is a part of life, like restaurants and everything else. But right now, everybody has to adapt to a new reality.”

“Getting in the game” is how Nolan describes releasing movies during a pandemic without a vaccine in sight. Studios remain unwilling to release movies during the pandemic, especially with theaters in Los Angeles and New York City closed down and a surge in COVID-19 cases. With the exception of Wonder Woman 1984, which Warner Bros. might delay, no other major movies are coming out this year. 

Releasing Tenet during the pandemic became a larger talking point than the movie itself. The reaction to releasing the film was louder than the reaction to the actual movie. Tenet didn’t hit the zeitgeist like Nolan’s recent films. Tenet didn’t produce serious conversation, obsession, and repeat viewings. Audiences were scared to return to theaters.

It’s Nolan’s most frustrating and, as far as his big movies go, least commercial film. Tenet is astonishing in scope. Many of Nolan’s films are full of powerful emotions, like Dunkirk and The Prestige, but Tenet is Nolan at his coldest. Characters had more style than personality. The twist and turns are more routine than revealing. 

There are breathtaking moments and intriguing ideas, but the big picture wasn’t satisfying. Too much of a good thing can be a problem. Nolan didn’t trust his audience enough, either. He explained everything to death. There was no sense of mystery and intrigue, despite the Bond-like approach. Tenet is a frustrating experience, but to be fair, an exhilarating experience for some Nolan fans.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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