Tenet officially arrives in select theaters this weekend, bringing Christopher Nolan's latest blockbuster to the big screen. The long-awaited film has been met with some unexpected challenges prior to its release, including several delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The film's theoretical theatrical run has been a topic of conversation amongst movie fans, especially considering how much of a supporter Nolan is of the cinema experience. Over the past few months, reports have hinted that Nolan had an instrumental part in deciding when and how Tenet hits theaters, but it sounds like that might be a bit of an exaggeration. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff addressed the perception of Nolan being controlling about Tenet's theatrical release, something that she says was overstated.
"It's overstated," Sarnoff explained. "Let me share with you the process that we went through. Right when COVID struck, we started looking at alternative ways to think about movie releases. On the Scoob! front, we decided to release it on PVOD. Families were sequestered together and wanted more content. We are very happy with the results. A few weeks later it debuted on HBO Max, where we were very happy with the results as well."
"On the Tenet front, we also had a finished movie, which we are very proud for people to see," Sarnoff continued. "As the summer unfolded, we started thinking about more innovative ways of releasing the movie. What if we didn’t put everything up front toward the opening weekend? Theaters were very upfront about saying they could give us three to four times as many screens as normal. So that started to change our thinking. We are happy with where we are. Some markets still aren’t open, but it is a marathon and not a sprint."
Tenet will follow an unnamed character named "The Protagonist" (John David Washington), who will journey through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real-time. The film's cast will also include Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, and Kenneth Branagh.
"We believe in the theatrical business. We’re excited to partner with Chris Nolan to get Tenet out in theaters first and foremost," WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a previous interview. "And then of course, it will be in another formats, in other venues, that are not theatrical. But I think, if you look at our behavior, we’re believers in the theatrical experience, and are also of course in very close communication with everyone in the exhibition industry, about the topic of windows and about how we can collectively serve consumers in the best way possible going forward...So I know it’s a pretty provocative topic, and I get that and it’s very understandable. But at the end of the day, I’m excited about it, and I’m leaning into it."