Tenet: Nolan’s Tentpole Underperforms in the U.S.

Tenet Still Lags in the U.S. Amid Pandemic


Tenet- Publicity still 4-H 2020
Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet jumped the $200 million mark at the international box office over the weekend, but struggles domestically without cities like New York or Los Angeles.

Warner Bros. is reporting that the big-budget espionage pic earned $4.7 million domestically from 2,930 theaters in its third weekend for a North American total of $36.1 million. The studio insists that Tenet is far from over, and anticipates a huge bump in ticket sales as more cinemas on both coasts are allowed to flip on the lights.

Internationally — where theaters are ahead of their U.S. counterparts in terms of reopenings — Tenet grossed another $25 million for a foreign tally of $214 million and a worldwide total of $250.1 million.

Nolan’s $200 film was the first Hollywood tentpole to open on the big screen, but its performance is underwhelming in the U.S., where viewers aren’t yet ready to return to the multiplex despite enhanced sanitary measures and social distancing. As a result, studios are once again rearranging their fall and early winter calendars, including delaying the Oct. 2 release of Wonder Woman 1984. New York and Los Angeles also remain a major issue, since they are the two largest moviegoing markets in the country.

As of Friday, roughly 27 percent of the domestic marketplace was still dark. That includes most of California. Exceptions include Orange County, San Diego and Sacramento, where theaters are turning in big numbers for Tenet (three of the top five grossing theaters were in the OC). Warners considers this an especially encouraging sign.

Highlights overseas included Japan, where Tenet debuted to a strong $4.3 million. That’s ahead of both Dunkirk and Interstellar.

Imax theaters in Japan contributed a huge $1.15 percent of the gross and, all told, Imax has now contributed 11.2 percent ($28 million) of Tenet‘s total global gross.

In China, Tenet earned another $5.6 million for a pleasing total of $60 million.

Mulan: Dismal in China

Disney’s Mulan, meanwhile, is having a dismal run in China. The big-budget epic adventure tumbled 72 percent sophomore frame for a cume of $36.2 million. In total for the weekend, Mulan grossed $10.9 million from 20 territories for a foreign tally of $57 million.

In the U.S. and  other European countries, Disney decided to send Mulan straight to Disney+ at a premium price, versus waiting for the domestic box office to stabilize.

The only new wide release of the weekend in North America was the action picture Infidel, which opened to an estimated $1.5 million from 1,724 theaters. Infidel is being distributed by indie outfit Cloudburst.

New specialty offerings included Bleecker Street’s thriller The Secrets We Keep, which posted a five-day opening of $114,722 from 471 cinemas; and Focus Features and MSNBC’s documentary The Way I See It, which is reporting a three-day debut of $25,000 from 124 locations.

Starring Noomi Repace, The Secrets We Keep will be made available early on VOD.

The Way I See It, about famed White House photographer Pete Souza, is getting a hybrid release and will air in three weeks on MSNBC.

Among holdovers, 20th Century and Disney’s The New Mutants grossed $1.6 million from 2,518 locations domestically to finish its fourth weekend with a North American total of $17.7 million and $35 million globally.

In its fifth weekend, Solstice Studios’ Unhinged earned $1.3 million from 2,324 for a domestic cume of $15.7 million.

Sony and Tri-Star’s romantic-comedy The Broken Hearts Gallery fell to $800,000 from 2,221 cinemas in its second weekend for an early domestic total of $2.4 million.