Christopher Nolan's Tenet, expected to be the first major release of the blockbuster movie season and now several-times-delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, may yet get its August opening weekend -- just not in the United States. Variety is reporting that Nolan and Warner Bros. are considering a debut in a few European territories on the weekend of August 26-28. That's when exhibitors in the UK, France, and Spain might see the movie, with a wider release presumably happening on a market-by-market basis. While these specifics were previously unknown, the Variety report is roughly in line with rumors that have been circulating this week.
Reports were that Nolan has grown impatient with waiting, and wanted to get his movie in front of audiences. Warner Bros., anxious about damaging its opening weekend if theaters in several states aren't open yet, wanted to wait.
The tipping point, according to an anonymous source in the Variety story, seems to be the strong performance of Peninsula in four Chinese markets ahead of the nationwide reopening of theaters next week. The idea seems to be that if themovie can perform well in China, the potential for spoilers or bootleg copies making their way across the ocean is less painful.
The report also speculates that some markets that are expected to have another surge in COVID-19 cases -- such as Spain -- might benefit from earlier releases, as it would give audiences a chance to see the movies and the movies a chance to turn a profit before theaters are closed again if cases escalate as expected.
Nolan, who is known for making exacting demands of exhibitors, has said that he remains committed to getting Tenet into wide release as quickly as possible in order to help the ailing theaters. From very early in the pandemic, Tenet seemed like a good fit for the first major release, since Nolan's movies tend to both make a lot of money and also have "long legs," an industry term for movies that people revisit more than once in theaters. After months of making small, incremental changes to the film's release plan, it was removed from Warner Bros.' North American calendar altogether on Monday, with the studio saying that formal plans for the movie's release would be made public soon.
Here's the film's official synopsis, via Warner Bros.:
Armed with only one word -- Tenet -- and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.