by Brandon Butler
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet “Will Definitely be a Theatrical Release” 7/23/2020

Julia Alexander for The Verge:

As film studio executives struggle to determine what movies should be held for a theatrical release and what titles can become streaming exclusives, AT&T CEO John Stankey reaffirmed that Tenet will absolutely go to theaters. […]

Tenet is a movie that was “engineered” for theaters, Stankey said in an interview with CNBC. Since it “needs to show up that way,” Warner Bros. isn’t looking to turn it into a premium video-on-demand or HBO Max exclusive. Especially considering that Tenet in a pre-coronavirus world would likely do well at the global box office. Dunkirk and Interstellar grossed $527 and $677 million at the box office, respectively. Then there’s also Nolan’s desire to seemingly have Tenet be the movie that reopens theaters, by which the studio is trying to abide.

“Certainly, Christopher would like it to be validated,” Stankey said. “That’s how he wants that piece of work that he’s done to be seen by movie goers, and that’s why it’s going to be something that shows up in a theater.”

Warner Bros. is in a tight spot. On the one hand, they’ve got the exhibition industry on the edge of their seats waiting for a firm, committed release date for Tenet. They’ve also got Nolan insisting on a theatrical release, and Nolan is a person they will bend over backwards to please.

On the other hand, the United States is both geographically a huge, out of control petri dish of COVID-19 and a huge source of box office revenue.

The US has had five months to deal with this virus, and for five months we’ve been shitting the bed. The year will be over in another five months. Based on how the government has handled the pandemic so far, does anyone honestly believe it’ll be safe to sit in a room with a few hundred strangers at any point between now and December 31st? Mr. Stankey? Mr. Nolan? Mr. Aron?

Also, I just want to call out the absurd bullshit of a statement like “Tenet is a movie that was “engineered” for theaters”, which is just absolutely ridiculous and some profoundly dumb marketing. There is nothing special about a movie theater these days, except paying an absurd amount of money for a Coke and tiny box of M&Ms while half the audience is playing on their cell phones during the film. Nolan & Co. really need to visit a modern multiplex with modern audiences.