Christopher Nolan has defended the worldwide box office haul of his latest film, Tenet, and said that he is “thrilled” that the epic time-bending espionage movie has made nearly $350 million (about Rs. 2,610 crores) since its release in August and September around the world. A release date for India is pending, but Tenet is expected to arrive before the end of the year. Nolan added that he fears Hollywood studios are taking a glass-half-empty approach to Tenet’s box office performance, rather than seeing it as a glass half full.
“I’m thrilled that [Tenet] has made almost $350 million,” Nolan told Los Angeles Times. “But I am worried that the studios are drawing the wrong conclusions from our release – that rather than looking at where the film has worked well and how that can provide them with much needed revenue, they’re looking at where it hasn’t lived up to pre-COVID expectations and will start using that as an excuse to make exhibition take all the losses from the pandemic instead of getting in the game and adapting – or rebuilding our business, in other words.”
Nolan doesn’t mention what markets he is referring to when he says “where the film has worked well,” but it’s worth noting that Tenet has done better outside the US, which has become more and more important for the American film industry over the past decade. Of the $347.1 million (about Rs. 2,590 crores) total, Tenet has made $293.3 million (about Rs. 2,190 crores) outside the US, with just $52.5 million (about Rs. 390 crores) in the US, in part due to New York and Los Angeles cinemas not fully opening.
That was deemed disappointing by box office analysts, even though we have no context for what a film should make during an ongoing pandemic. Hollywood studios have pushed all their big blockbuster movies to 2021, be it the next Bond film No Time to Die (April 2, 2021), the upcoming Marvel movies (Black Widow in May 2021, Shang-Chi in July 2021, and Eternals in November 2021), or the next Fast and Furious flick F9 (May 28, 2021).
Warner Bros.’ own Wonder Woman 1984 is the last big movie still set for 2020 (Christmas Day), but that is also expected to move soon. While Nolan is “thrilled” with Tenet’s box office collections, the studio that released it isn’t sure it wants to go through that again. Though it’s worth noting that the COVID-19 situation is always evolving, and currently, a second lockdown is underway across Western Europe. Tenet made over $91 million (about Rs. 680 crores) in Western Europe.
Still, if it were up to Nolan, he would seemingly push for more theatrical releases: “Long term, moviegoing is a part of life, like restaurants and everything else. But right now, everybody has to adapt to a new reality.”