‘Tenet’ Crosses $280 Million Worldwide, Leads Mild U.S. Box Office With $3.4 Million

FILE PHOTO: People take their seats inside the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square cinema, on the opening day of the film
FILE PHOTO: People take their seats inside the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square cinema, on the opening day of the film "Tenet", amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

September 27, 2020

By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has topped $280 million worldwide, dominating a mild U.S. box office with $3.4 million at 2,850 locations in its fourth weekend to go past $41 million in four weeks.

The Warner Bros. tentpole, which carries a hefty $200 million price tag, took in a weekend total of $19.2 million worldwide in 58 markets. The U.S. posting the top number with a 26% decline, followed by Japan with $3 million in its second weekend and a 30% decline.

“Tenet” is the first major studio release to launch during the pandemic, and its small-ish numbers underline the industry’s challenge of attracting customers amid a health crisis. Disney’s “Mulan”- which isn’t getting a theatrical release in the U.S. — grossed $3.4 million in 20 markets to lift it to $64 million world wide. Its fifth weekend of “The New Mutants” took in $2.5 million worldwide, including $1.1 million in the U.S.

The estimates were released three days after Disney postponed the release of a trio of fall blockbusters — Marvel’s “Black Widow,” Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile” — by several months. Those delays were the latest in a long line of titles pushed out of the summer and fall due to coronavirus.

Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, said it’s no surprise that the U.S. moviegoing business is subdued amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This weekend is continuing what’s now expected to become a trend of quieter weekends at the domestic box office in the early autumn weeks following numerous release delays since ‘Tenet’ opened,” he added. “It’s another good news, bad news scenario as ‘Tenet’ itself and other films are displaying stronger legs than typically seen in pre-pandemic times, but the volume of total business in the market is lacking due to modest consumer awareness, the absence of four-quad films, and no promotional engine usually driven by the Los Angeles and New York markets.”

Currently, about 75% of U.S. markets are open but the key Los Angeles and New York markets remain closed along with most of the rest of California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Mexico, Seattle-Tacoma and Portland. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, estimated that only 58% of theaters are currently open in North America.

“The marketplace is as expected sleepy and uncertain,” he added. “However, there is at least some encouraging news in the fact that where people have the option, film fans are heading to the movie theater while others are seeking out the big screen experience even in neighboring cities if their local multiplex is unavailable.”