After previously being pushed back several times, Warner Bros. announced on Monday that the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which was most recently set for Aug. 12, has been delayed indefinitely amid the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases across the United States.
This delay makes it the third time the release of the Hollywood tentpole has moved. It was originally set for a release on July 17, followed by July 31 and then Aug. 12. Nolan, one of the biggest proponents of the theatrical experience, and Warners have continued to be dedicated to providing support for struggling cinema owners with a boost when theaters reopen. In a statement, Warners reiterated this stance.
“Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen,” said Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world.”
“Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to proliferate, causing us to reevaluate our release dates,” Emmerich continued. “Amidst all this continued uncertainty, we have decided to vacate the current dates for our next two releases. We will share a new 2020 release date imminently for Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s wholly original and mind-blowing feature. We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that. Additionally, we will be moving the next installment from our most-successful horror franchise, The Conjuring 3 to June 4, 2021.”
As the pandemic is anticipated to continue well into the summer, Hollywood has been forced to adjust to this new normal. Tenet will most likely no longer get a conventional release and is expected to premiere first in overseas theaters. While Warners is expected to announce its new plan in the upcoming days, an option for the release of Tenet remains that it could release first in cities where cinemas can safely reopen, instead of releasing nationwide at the same time.
It is still very uncertain when cinemas, especially in the two largest U.S. moviegoing markets, New York City and Los Angeles, will be ready to safely reopen at a large-scale level. Even when they do reopen, it is likely that the moviegoing experience won’t be the same for a while after, a big gamble for the hefty $200 million budget Warners shelled out to produce Tenet. The good news is while North America is the largest moviegoing market in the world, a Hollywood tentpole like Tenet could potentially see two-thirds of its box office come from international markets.
What little is known about Tenet, written and directed by Nolan, is that it involves a secret agent tasked with preventing another world war and deals with the time continuum. The cast includes John David Washington as the lead, as well as Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine.