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After numerous delays, Tenet begins rolling out Wednesday in a number of international markets in a historic mission to revive moviegoing in the COVID-19 era.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the $200 million espionage epic is the first Hollywood tentpole to hit the big screen since cinemas reopened after a prolonged shutdown due to the devastating pandemic.
Nolan is a champion of the theatrical experience, and in tandem with home studio Warner Bros., has remained determined to keep Tenet on the calendar, versus pushing the film to a later date or sending it to premium VOD or streaming.
Across the globe, theater circuits have largely pegged their reopenings to Tenet, starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh.
Warners, hoping to manage expectations in unusual circumstances, isn’t providing guidance as to how much the movie might open to internationally this weekend.
Box office analysts and rival studios, however, are targeting an initial overseas debut of anywhere from $25 million to $40 million through Sunday, depending on fast-unfolding circumstances. In South Korea, for instance, a recent surge of COVID-19 cases has dramatically dampened moviegoing in recent days.
By Friday, Tenet will be playing in roughly 40 offshore territories. Warners is expected to announce numbers on Sunday.
Tenet doesn’t debut until Sept. 4 in China, where the box office has rebounded in a major way. Last weekend, the Chinese tentpole The Eight Hundred collected more than $112 million at the box office in the Middle Kingdom, including previews. (The war epic’s performance was a major boost for the global film industry.)
Nolan’s film saw its release date pushed several times after originally being set for a mid-July opening. Ultimately, Warners and Nolan decided on a late August-early September release despite the fact that the two top moviegoing markets in the U.S. — Los Angeles and New York — remain dark.
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