Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” crossed the $ 200 million mark globally, buoyed by overseas receipts as US cinemas struggle to attract audiences during the coronavirus pandemic.
The sci-fi thriller generated $ 6.7 million in the US and Canada during its second weekend of release, a 29% drop from its opening weekend. Last weekend, Warner Bros., the studio behind “Tenet,” advertised a $ 20 million debut. But a closer dissection of those numbers reveals that they have been heavily rotated to include preview screenings on weekdays and the long holiday weekend. In fact, “Tenet” only made about $ 9 million between Friday and Sunday.
In an effort to control the conversation about “Tenet̵
But Warner Bros. clearly hoped that “Tenet” would work better in the United States and the film may have a hard time making a profit. Want a clue as to how the studio really sees the viability of cinemas right now? Less than a week after “Tenet” had its national premiere, Warner Bros. delayed the sequel to “Wonder Woman 1984” from October to Christmas.
About 65-75% of theaters in the United States have reopened, but major markets like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco remain closed. The cinemas that have resumed activity have done so at reduced capacity, automatically limiting the sale of tickets.
Warner Bros. said it is optimistic that revenues will improve as new markets open. “Tenet” has played in 100 locations more than last weekend, for a total of 2,910 venues. This number is expected to increase as cinemas in more cities are allowed to reopen. Thanks to the opening of multiplexes in Orange County, Los Angeles was the highest grossing region in the country this weekend. Dallas, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Phoenix also experienced strong ticket sales.
The studio was also encouraged by the influx of premium formats, such as Imax and Dolby Cinema. Imax screens represented $ 23 million in “Tenet’s” box office receipts.
David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research, estimated that “Tenet” had a better grip than expected during the second frame. But he said it may not yet be enough to offset the more pressing limitations the market faces.
“Anecdotally, these drops look slightly better than one would expect under normal circumstances,” Gross said. “However, they are not close to maintaining a level of activity that will compensate for the lost box office due to the pandemic.”
“Tenet” has made bigger waves overseas, where the coronavirus appears to be more under control and cinemas have reopened at a more significant level. Part of the reason Warner Bros. decided to release “Tenet” during the pandemic is because Nolan’s films often make more money overseas than in the US.
Ticket sales for “Tenet” reached $ 177.5 million at the international box office and $ 207 million globally. Given its $ 200 million production budget, the film has to reach around $ 400 million worldwide to break even and get close to $ 450 million to get out of the red and into the black.
“Tenet” brought $ 10 million to China, the second largest viewer market in the world, increasing its haul in the country to $ 50 million. It finished second in the box office charts behind “Mulan,” although neither film has amassed Chinese cinema-inspired ticket sales despite 90% of its cinemas reopening.
Disney’s live remake of the 1998 cartoon raised $ 23.2 million over its opening weekend, a disappointing result for a film that was anything but designed for its appeal to Chinese audiences. So far, “Mulan has earned $ 37.6 million globally. The $ 200 million budget fantasy epic is forgoing a US theatrical release, and is instead available to rent on Disney Plus for $ 30.
Even without the pandemic, “Mulan” was mired in controversy. She was targeted for filming in Xinjiang, a region of China where minorities have been forced to live in labor camps. In the closing credits of “Mulan,” the film thanked Chinese government organizations in Xinjiang who have been accused of human rights violations. Last year, Hong Kong pro-democracy activists called for a boycott after “Mulan” star Liu Yifei showed support for Hong Kong police during anti-government protests.
Among the new releases, Sony’s romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Gallery” grossed $ 1.125 million from 2,204 screens over the weekend. Given the difficult environment, the studio called that number “fantastic”. Sony acquired the film for $ 8 million, so it doesn’t need to hit levels of success to make a profit.
“The first numbers are encouraging,” said Adrian Smith, Sony’s head of home distribution. “We are thrilled to see how the film plays out over time and how word of mouth about the film pushes it.”
“The Broken Hearts Gallery” was placed behind Solstice Studio’s Disney hits “The New Mutants” and “Unhinged” in national box office charts, although the latter two had a broader theatrical footprint.
“The New Mutants,” a poorly reviewed superhero adventure, has yet to find its home in theaters and generated $ 2.1 million over the weekend. “The New Mutants” is also stirring overseas, where it raised $ 3.8 million from 36 overseas markets. After three weekends on the big screen, the film grossed $ 15.3 million in the US and $ 29 million worldwide.
“Unhinged,” a street thriller starring Russell Crowe, stuck in its fifth weekend, taking home $ 1.5 million over three days. This boosts domestic ticket sales to $ 13.8 million.
The cinemas, hit hard by the plague, considered “Tenet” a potential savior. Its negligible internal earnings show that salvation for the exhibition sector is still a long way off. It will take more than Christopher Nolan to bring viewers back to the cinema.