Warner Bros. ‘Tenet’ to Get Early Theatrical Release in Select Cities

Warner Bros. Aug. 18 announced it would release Christopher Nolan’s espionage thriller Tenet on Aug. 31 in select cities with re-opened theaters. The much-anticipated movie, along with Disney’s Mulan, is seen as a catalyst to jumpstart the exhibition business following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Warner Bros. is proud to support our partners in exhibition as they reopen their doors. And there could be no better film to welcome audiences back to a true big-screen experience than Tenet,” Jeff Goldstein, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Domestic Distribution, said in a statement.

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With Disney moving Mulan to premium VOD in September, Tenet is now the go-to theatrical release for exhibitors hoping to instill a sense of normalcy to the the cineplex. Warner is launching the movie in Canada on Aug. 27.

But early screenings of Tenet will have little impact on the film’s box office without the contribution of California, New York and New Jersey markets. All three states remain up in the air regarding theatrical re-openings. And a New Jersey judge just ruled against major chains AMC Theatres and others re-opening screens in the Garden State.

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“It’s the level of risk,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an Aug. 17 media conference. “If you look at our metrics, we started with the most essential business that posed the least risk. And then it was the gradation to the least essential businesses that posed the most risk. I am sure there is a whole group of people who say, ‘I cannot live without going to the movies.’

“But on a relative risk scale,” Cuomo continued, “a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk. It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time. Even if you are at 50% capacity with one or two seats between the two of you, this is a risk situation and movie theaters are not that high on the list of essentials.”

Netflix Expanding New York Presence With New Office, Production Facility

Amazon may have left, but Netflix is expanding its New York state of mind.

The SVOD behemoth April 18 announced it is spending $100 million for a new production facility in New York, that also includes office space for 127 executives in content, marketing and production.

The streaming video pioneer will also inhabit a Brooklyn-based production space with six sound stages and the capacity to house thousands of jobs within five years.

“Netflix is innovative, creative and bold — just like New Yorkers — and the expansion of this cutting-edge company in New York once again demonstrates the Empire State is open for business,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Netflix’s new corporate offices will take up approximately 100,000 square feet at 888 Broadway in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. The offices will house the aforementioned executive positions in addition to Netflix’s 32 current New York-based employees.

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The company — which has a long history of production in New York including “Orange Is the New Black,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” She’s Gotta Have ItThe IrishmanSomeone Great, “Private Life” and “Russian Doll” — has also leased approximately 161,000 square feet to build six sound stages at 333 Johnson Avenue in Brooklyn.

“Thanks to Netflix, online streaming has become as commonplace as cable television, and maybe even more accessible — and their decision to expand in New York is a validation of our work to support and develop New York’s technology, entertainment and production industries,” said Empire State Development commissioner Howard Zemsky.

To support Netflix’s infrastructure expansion, Empire State Development offered up to $4 million in performance-based tax credits over 10 years, which are directly tied to real job creation. To receive the full incentive, Netflix must create the 127 jobs by 2024 at its new executive production office and then retain those new jobs and their existing 32 office jobs for another five years.

The tax incentive pales in comparison to the billions offered Amazon, which ultimately pulled out of its Long Island headquarters expansion following political pushback.

Labor leaders applauded the news.

“Hardworking crew members are the foundation of New York’s film industry, and this project invests in their future,” said John Ford, president of Motion Picture Studio Mechanics Local 52, I.A.T.S.E.

“There are few companies in our industry that are as forward thinking as Netflix,” said Tom O’Donnell, president, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817. “With this news, we’ll continue to add solid, middle class jobs to already record employment. The climate for this to happen would not exist without the wildly successful New York State Film Tax Credit Program — and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his foresight and continued support.”