TENET Release Date Postponed

TENET Release Date Postponed: Why Warner Bros and Nolan Should Not Schedule the Film Anytime Soon?

What was speculated has been made official. The global increase in COVID-19 cases has caused the Tenet release date postponed for an indefinite period. The news came out Sunday night from the account of Warner Bros, and it is quite a relief.

If you have been following my blog, you must be wondering about the sudden turnaround. How come this guy is no more excited to see Tenet? It is a Christopher Nolan movie! Well, there are two crucial reasons why I do not want the film to release in movie theaters anytime soon. 


Warner Bros Wanted Tenet Release Date Postponed to Avoid Inevitable Financial Losses

It is the third time Warner Bros has postponed the release date of Tenet in a month. Previously, the dates were pushed from July 17 to July 31, and then later on, to August 12 (for a 5-day weekend). This time, its an indefinite delay, and it has principally to do with the low-to-disastrous box-office results. 

TENET Release Date Delayed

Produced on a budget of $205 Million with almost similar marketing expenditure, Nolan’s time inversion film needs to gross at least $800 Million only to break-even. It is a significant amount to make, especially in the current scenario. It would be no less than a miracle for any filmmaker, or a movie studio to gross anywhere near the said figure.

Be it Avatar 2 or Avengers: Secret Wars. Only the die-hard, obstinate moviegoers will prefer watching films in the cinemas. Indie films can stay on the sidelines. People are incredibly concerned about their health (and they should!), with many undergoing strenuous employment phase. The chances of average moviegoers risking their health for a film, regardless of who made it, are minimal. And it is a fact that a movie requires all kinds of audiences to cross the billion-dollar mark.

Nolan’s previous films Dunkirk (made on $150 Million, grossed $526 Million), and Interstellar (made on $165 Million budget, grossed $678 Million) were not for the general audience. Yet, they earned an impressive amount. His popular films (The Dark KnightInception, The Dark Knight Rises) did even better, with two of them crossing the billion-dollar mark. With Tenet, however, the situation is a little different.


Under normal circumstances, the film could have grossed in the range of $1-1.5 Billion, given that:

1) the film gets universal critical acclaim,

2) there will be repeat viewings for deciphering Nolan’s, per usual, layered screenplay, and 

3) the film is devoid of 18+ content (no nudity, swearing, or graphic violence), and hence, parents get the advantage to take their kids with them. 

But two of the three listed points, currently, do not apply. We can assume that the devoted Nolan fans will see the film at least once in the cinemas, but the percentage of repeat viewings will be lesser than usual. The general enthusiastic moviegoers may also risk watching the film in theaters, but it will have a lot to depend on the statistics of the coronavirus cases in their states. 

And most importantly, the remaining set of people who like to watch films, though not necessarily in cinemas, will wait for its digital release, given that OTT platforms are already providing enough watchable content (Palm Springs, The Old Guard, The Baby-Sitters Club).

Hence, for Warner’s decision to have the Tenet release date postponed is for avoiding the precisely visible financial loss. Even with the film’s intended slow roll-out, it isn’t very likely to break-even, despite a long theatrical run.

Christopher Nolan Would be Responsible for the Spread of COVID-19, Given his Massive Fanbase

Christopher Nolan on Set of Tenet with John David Washington

Besides the economics, there is additional damage the film can do if released early. Assuming that Warner announces another release date soon, which is imminent, it can tarnish theirs and Nolan’s legacy. For a filmmaker like Nolan, who has a phenomenal track record of directing highly entertaining films and is looked upon well among his audience, it will be stupid to take such a risk, despite his noble intent.

Most of the average moviegoers (MANY!) are condemning the decision to open movie theaters during the pandemic. It is logical, given that one cannot expect every individual inside the theater to be 100% responsible for the precautions. There is a limit to how much the multiplex management can supervise. Temperature can be measured; hands can be sanitized. But for the asymptomatic individuals who may sneeze during the film will be both critical and extremely distracting for the others.

Considering the tremendous historical impact COVID-19 has made, the possibility of people getting infected, mainly due to a film, will give rise to severe rebuking. Hence, both from a personal and economic perspective, it is best to postpone the release date of Tenet until the world is victorious over coronavirus.

What, according to you, should be the right time for Warner Bros to release Tenet? Share your opinion below in the comments section.

Mayank Nailwal
Passionate about films & filmmaking since 2002.
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