Warner Bros.’ major box office release Tenet generated $20.2 million at the weekend U.S. box office through Sept. 5 — the majority ($11.1 million) on high-definition Imax screens, according to industry data. The Christopher Nolan espionage thriller, which is seen by many as a harbinger to theatrical normalcy, has tracked almost $150 million worldwide.
“There is literally no context in which to compare the results of a film opening during a pandemic with any other circumstance,” Warner said in a Sept. 6 statement. “We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-COVID world would be inequitable and baseless.”
With many theatrical chains operating for the first time following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, key regions such as California and New York still have many screens shuttered, which led observers to project a $20 million opening box office — one of the worst for a Nolan movie.
Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said that despite AMC Theatres re-opening 70% of its domestic screens, COVID-19 worries among exhibitors would limit seating capacity, undermining the fiscal impact of Tenet.
“Pent up consumer demand with 50% [social distancing seating] capacity and 60% of moviegoers afraid of dying [of COVID-19]. I think [Tenet] will be a [U.S. box office] embarrassment,” Pachter said ahead of the weekend box office.