We were a little underwhelmed last weekend when Christopher Nolan’s massive action film Tenet had an estimated $20.2 million three-day weekend. However, what was shocking it had been released over Labor Day domestically and we never saw the actual box office returns from the studio. Normally, with this data studios are extremely happy to share given the nature of a holiday long weekend boosts attendance.
It was indeed underwhelming because that number would make Tenet the lowest box office opening for a Nolan film in the last twenty years, slightly below Insomnia’s $20.8 million back in 2002. You also have to factor in Tenet’s massive production of reportedly over $200 million that makes it extremely tough to turn a profit during a global pandemic.
Here is a rundown of Christopher Nolan’s domestic box office openings.
- THE DARK KNIGHT RISES $160.8 MILLION
- THE DARK KNIGHT – $158.4 MILLION
- INCEPTION – $62.7 MILLION
- DUNKIRK – $50.5 MILLION
- BATMAN BEGINS – $48.7 MILLION
- INTERSTELLAR – $47.5 MILLION
- THE PRESTIGE – $40 MILLION
- INSOMNIA – $20.8 MILLION
- TENET – $20.2 MILLION
- MEMENTO – $ 235K
Almost a week later and Warner Bros. still hasn’t given up that data which might suggest they were bullish with that estimate of $20.2 million and are trying to make the film’s opening weekend seem stronger than it was. This would also include how well the film has done over the last two weeks in Canada as those numbers haven’t been made public by Warner Bros. either and are generally lumped into the U.S./North American total, a number the studio has yet to make public.
Variety is now pointing towards the studio potentially worried their iffy numbers will be spun by outlets and journalists as hurdling towards a flop as weaker numbers would suggest given the scale of the film and the timing of the release.
The studio, however, was concerned that reporters and rivals would misinterpret or unfairly analyze the results — leading to headlines that may incorrectly label Tenet’s debut as a flop.
Warner Bros. also recently bumped Wonder Woman 1984’s release date from October 2nd to Christmas Day. The move most likely happened because of this Tenet data they are now refusing to share with the public and rival studios. The report from Variety adds that the rival studios are complaining of the lack of transparency because they were hoping on making release schedule adjustments based on Tenet’s performance.
This is really on Warner Bros. as they were warned about releasing their massive film too soon during the pandemic/theater reopening as most of the summer movies bailed to 2021 and reports of infighting within the studio seemed more like a weird PR move if anything else.