‘Tenet’ launches with US$53M in overseas gambit at box office

The first wave of big new movies released since the beginning of the pandemic, including Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending thriller Tenet and the long-delayed X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, arrived in theatres over the weekend, testing the waters of a radically different theatrical landscape.

Elizabeth Debicki (left) and John David Washington in a scene from “Tenet.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

Warner Bros.’ Tenet — the most hotly anticipated movie of the year – opened with an estimated US$53 million overseas in 41 markets, including most of Europe, South Korea and Canada.

Given the circumstances, it was difficult to forecast the performance of the US$200 million Tenet but the result exceeded the expectations of most.

While many of Hollywood’s largest productions have postponed their release and others have rerouted to streaming platforms, Warner Bros. gambled that Tenet could roll out abroad first, and then gradually debut in the US.

Blaze Kopec General Manager of R/C Wilkes-Barre Pa Movies 14 tucks in a movie poster for the Christopher Nolan film Tenet which will begin showing next week, Friday Aug. 28, 2020 in Wilkes Barre, Pa. (Dave Scherbenco/The Citizens’ Voice via AP)

Tenet will open this week in the US and China, the two largest markets. In the US, the conditions remain far from ideal. About 60% of theatres are currently open.

The New Mutants, a critically panned horror riff for Marvel, led the domestic box office with an estimated US$7 million in 2,412 locations.

Disney will next week release the live-action remake of Mulan for a US$30 digital rental through its streaming service, Disney+. Originally slated for theatrical release in March, it’s the most expensive movie yet to go straight to the home.