Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Tops $20 Million at Domestic Labor Day Weekend Box Office

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.”

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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.

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.”

James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 7/28/20;
RLJ;
Documentary;
$34.97 DVD or Blu-ray;
Not Rated.
Featuring James Cameron, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott.

This six-episode documentary series hosted by filmmaker James Cameron should prove a fascinating viewing experience for any fan of the title genre, primarily due to the high-caliber talent on display sharing their insights on the topic.

The series is structured with each episode taking on a different topic within the genre: “Alien Life,” “Space Exploration,” “Monsters,” “Dark Futures,” “Intelligent Machines” and “Time Travel.” They run a shade over 40 minutes each on disc, long enough to fill an hour-long time slot when commercials are added in (the series originally aired on AMC in 2018).

Much of the series follows a typical documentary format tracing the history of the episode’s topic, with analysis from various talking heads in the form of critics, authors, actors and filmmakers. Particular emphasis is placed on the various social, political and philosophical underpinnings of various sci-fi stories throughout history. One primary thesis that arises is the notion that science-fiction isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about choosing our future — an observation that demonstrates why there’s still considerable value to older sci-fi tales that might otherwise seem outdated.

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But the heart of the program involves Cameron sitting for a series of one-on-one interviews with other high-profile directors as they discuss each others work (with no shortage of praise for one another, as could be expected). The stories the directors tell range from the oft-repeated tales that every fan knows, to interesting insights into what guided certain filmmaking decisions, such as how Steven Spielberg adapted much of his childhood into Close Encounters and E.T.

The discussion with George Lucas raises some eyebrows during the A.I. episode, when Cameron says so many movies depict the machines as bad guys, leading to Lucas stating that’s why he decided to depict robots as the good guys in “Star Wars” — the pair apparently sidestepping the fact that Lucas made three “Star Wars” films in which the good guys fought entire armies of evil robots.

Still, the conversations are fun to watch and the various TV and movie clips offer enough nostalgia that any viewer should find something to like.

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The bonus section includes extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. These run about three to four minutes each.

Warner Pulls ‘Tenet’ From Theatrical Release Schedule

In another of unending blows to the theatrical business model, Warner Bros. has pulled director Christopher Nolan’s international espionage thriller, Tenet, from its oft-changed release slate. The studio has not announced a new release date. The movie, which had originally been scheduled for July 17, was pushed back to July 31, then Aug. 12 as coronavirus infections began to surge in parts of the country.

The movie, along with Disney’s live-action Mulan a week later, were supposed to jumpstart the exhibition business following its mid-March worldwide shutdown. But with infections up across the country, and tepid consumer response in China to theater re-openings, Warner is not treating Tenet like other box office titles.

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“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,” Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman, said in a statement. “We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world.”

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Emmerich said the pandemic continues to cause us to “re-evaluate our release dates.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom July 13 announced that all movie theaters in the state should remain closed. Warner said it is vacating release dates for its next two box office titles. The Conjuring 3, Warner’s most-successful horror franchise has been pushed back to June 4, 2021.

“We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that,” Emmerich said.

‘James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction’ Coming to Disc July 28 From RLJE

The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).

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Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

Warner Bros. Re-Releasing ‘Inception’ in Theaters July 17

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending science-fiction film Inception, Warner Bros. will re-release the movie in theaters July 17. It’s the same date Warner originally planned to debut Nolan’s latest movie, Tenet. That release — like most studio movies — has been delayed due to the ongoing shutdown of most movie theaters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Written and directed by Nolan, who also produced the film with Emma Thomas, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets. He is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. The ensemble cast includes Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.

The movie’s original release generated more than $832 million at the global box office.

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The special Inception theatrical event will also offer moviegoers unseen footage from Tenet, which will now debut worldwide on July 31. Consumers will also be given an exclusive preview of select films on Warner Bros.’ upcoming slate.

Warner Bros. Delays Theatrical ‘Tenet,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Releases

Director Christopher Nolan’s international espionage thriller, Tenet, was supposed to usher back a sense of normalcy in the theatrical business with its debut on July 17, but the Warner Bros. release has been pushed back to July 31.

The studio didn’t give a reason for the delay, but observers say the slow reopening of theaters — and questions about how eager consumers will be to return — as the key factors. The studio also pushed back for the second time Wonder Woman 1984, from Aug. 14 to Oct. 2. The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman was originally slated for June 5.

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“We’re especially thrilled, in this complex and rapidly changing environment, to be bringing Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a global tentpole of jaw-dropping size, scope and scale, to theaters around the world on July 31,” Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, said in a media statement. “It’s been longer than any of us could’ve imagined since we’ve seen a movie on the big screen.”

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Emmerich said the studio would be re-releasing Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi thriller Inception in theaters July 17 in honor of the movie’s 10th anniversary.

“Over these last months we have been keeping Warner Bros. closely informed of our work towards reopening our theaters in accordance with governmental health and safety requirements, and we are looking forward to audiences enjoying ‘Tenet’ in our theaters all around the world on July 31,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement.

Whether Warner’s delays impact Disney’s planned July 24 theatrical launch of Mulan remains to be seen. ViacomCBS’s CEO Bob Bakish, on the companys recent fiscal call, said he hoped the theatrical business would be back to a new normal in time for the August release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.

Analyst: Q2 Box Office Down 100%

When sales decline 100%, it can’t get much worse for a business. But that’s the reality facing movie exhibitors. Through May 21 of the second quarter, the box office is trending down 100% year-over-year as the industry remains shut down due to the coronavirus.

Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter expects “very minimal” box office revenue in the current quarter, with most domestic theaters likely remaining closed through June 30.

The first-quarter domestic box office ended down 25.4% $1.79 billion as most theaters didn’t shutter until March. The North American box office in 2020 is trending down 58.1% compared with 2019.

“We do not expect attendance levels to begin to normalize until the end of the year at the earliest,” Pachter wrote in a May 26 note.

The analyst says theaters and studios have some incentive to release new content before a return to normalcy, as a theater would be able to show a single film on all of its screens thereby allowing for social distancing while still providing the studio with the opportunity to drive box office revenue.

Director Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (Warner Bros.) is poised to be the first in line to take that risk, although Pachter doubts the international espionage thriller will be able to hold its current release date target of July 17.

“Our estimates are clearly subject to change given the fluidity of the release slate and the mood on social distancing as stay-at-home orders begin lifting across the country,” the analyst wrote.

He thinks it unlikely consumers will return to cinemas with any semblance of normalvy before a vaccine is widely distributed. Additionally, the dearth of newly produced content may negatively impact theatrical attendance in 2021, while streaming services will be competing at the highest levels for content to bolster their offerings in an extremely competitive environment.

There are now 68 films that have been moved or pulled from the release slate, worth an estimated $7.5 billion. Of these films, seven moved to a streaming platform, worth an estimated $358 million in box office dollars. Fifteen have yet to be rescheduled or slated for streaming, worth an additional $652 million in potential box office dollars.

“All 15 are likely to be moved to streaming platforms, in our view,” Pachter wrote. “When taken together, we expect the negative impact to 2020 domestic box office to be $3.1 billion, only partially offset by a positive impact to 2021 domestic box office of $1.5 billion.”

LG Touts Filmmaker Mode at CES

LG Electronics touted support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode Jan. 6 at CES with video testimonials by directors Chris Nolan and Christopher McQuarrie hailing the feature that brings the home viewing experience closer to the filmmakers’ intention.

“We’re proud to be among the first to embrace the UHD Alliance’s new Filmmaker Mode,” said Tim Alessi, senior director of product marketing at LG Electronics.

Current TVs use advanced video processing capabilities to offer consumers a broad range of options in viewing various types of content, ranging from sports to video games. Filmmaker Mode allows viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

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LG also showed a 65-inch, 20mm thick TV; its rollup OLED TV, which Alessi said would be introduced this year; and support for DolbyVision IQ.

In addition, the electronics company touted Nvidia G-Sync-compatible TVs that can play games in 4K with up to 120 Hz. Alessi noted that game playing capability on TVs is increasingly important to consumers.

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Warner Bros. Re-Releasing Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Movies on Imax Screens

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the first published appearance of the Batman comic in May 1939, Warner Bros. March 13 began selling tickets to special Imax screenings for all three movies from director Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy featuring Christian Bale as the masked crusader.

Moviegoers who acquire tickets for all three films receive a lanyard and special “Dark Knight” Trilogy collectible.

Christopher Nolan directs Christian Bale and Tom Hardy in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’

On March 30, the films — 2005’s Batman Begins, 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises— will screen back-to-back at the Universal Cinema AMC in Los Angeles. During an interlude between the second and third films, Nolan will join the audience for a moderated Q&A discussion on the movies.

On April 13, the three films will screen at AMC Lincoln Square in New York and AMC Metreon in San Francisco, followed by Cinesphere Ontario Place, Toronto, and Imax Theatre at the Indiana State Museum, Ind., on April 20, each accompanied by the footage of Nolan’s Los Angeles appearance.

In all five cities, all three movies will be seen in the director’s preferred 70mm format, providing an all-encompassing moviegoing experience.

Nolan with The Dark Knight (with Heath Ledger as The Joker) was the first director to shoot action sequences of a major feature film with Imax cameras, revolutionizing the integration of Imax and standard formats. He utilized Imax cameras more extensively in The Dark Knight Rises.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight.’

“Christopher Nolan broke new ground with the ‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy, and this is a rare chance for today’s audiences to experience these extraordinary films as they were meant to be seen,” Jeff Goldstein, president, domestic distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement. “To have the added privilege of hearing Chris’s insights firsthand makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”