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Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' May Get Delayed

Movie theater owners are itching to reopen. Obviously, most major theater chains are prioritizing safety and not reopening in states, such as Texas and Georgia, where they are permitted to reopen. Due to the coronavirus, it’s still unclear when exactly people can safely return to theaters. Theater chains and Warner Bros. were hoping to reopen theaters with a bang by releasing Tenet, but now, the studio is reconsidering that movie’s summer release date.

What is Tenet?

Tenet is the new science-fiction thriller from filmmaker Christopher Nolan, the mind behind The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception. The Warner Bros. picture is a $200 million dollar original idea. The mind-bending thriller stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Kenneth Branagh in global, Bond-esque adventure. 

Nolan Wants to Help Theaters

For the last month or so, Nolan has been vocal about supporting movie theaters during this time. He’s all about preserving the theatrical experience. Nolan even wrote a piece about it for The Washington Post. “When people think about movies, their minds first go to the stars, the studios, the glamour,” Nolan wrote. “But the movie business is about everybody: the people working the concession stands, running the equipment, taking tickets, booking movies, selling advertising and cleaning bathrooms in local theaters.” The filmmaker added theaters are “a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all.” 

A July Release Date

Nolan and Warner Bros. have been adamant about releasing Tenet in theaters on July 15th. Even when the studio pushed back their other major releases, including Wonder Woman 1984, they held strong (or blindly) on the July release date for Nolan’s film. They want it to reopen theaters across the world and get people back in theaters, surrounded by people… It’s maybe naive or misguided given what’s happening in the world, but obviously, Nolan wants to help the theater business. It’s coming from a good place. Now, however, the July release date is looking less and less likely with each passing day. 

Another Delay?

Warner Bros. and Nolan are now reconsidering their gameplan. In the next week or two, the studio and filmmaker will decide whether to stick to Tenet’s original release date or push the movie back to later in 2020. There’s no way a movie this expensive would go to VOD, and Nolan rightfully so wouldn’t allow it. 

It looks likely theaters in major states, such as New York and California, will remain closed in July. This is a major problem for a major theatrical release considering both states would probably cover 20% of Tenet’s domestic box-office take. Without California and New York, Tenet wouldn’t play in theaters, from the sound of it. They’re the country’s two biggest filmgoing markets. 

The studio doesn’t want to spend millions in marketing, according to Variety, and then push the movie back. Which is why Warner Bros. will decide on Tenet’s release date in the next week or two, although I can’t imagine how much miracle news will come out in that time to sway their decision. A delay for Tenet and another major July release, Mulan, appears more than likely at the moment. 

Even if people can return to theaters in July, it won’t exactly be a pleasurable experience anyway. Moviegoers will have to wear masks, get their temperatures tested before entering theaters, and sit six feet apart from people. Not exactly a fun night out to take your mind off things. 

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