Movie Theaters Prepare for a Harsh Fall After Tenet Fails to Ignite the Box Office
Tenet hit theaters recently and offered the movie business a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the first real sign of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. But Christopher Nolan’s latest hasn’t proven to be the savior of the industry that Warner Bros. and theater owners hoped it would be. With that, theaters are having to brace themselves for a rough fall season as few, if any, big movies will be taking chances in the near future.
A new report details some of what has been going on in the industry since Tenet was released. The time-bending thriller has earned just over $200 million at the box office globally to date. While that is good, all things considered, and relative to what other movies have earned recently, it’s not nearly on par with other Christopher Nolan blockbusters of the last decade. And, given that it needs to make at least $400 million worldwide just to break even, other studios have been discouraged and are now moving other major releases to later in the year, if not well into 2021.
This leaves movie theaters in a precarious position. Most theaters, save for drive-ins, for the most part, were forced to shut down in March. AMC, Regal, Cinemark and independent chains were left without revenue for months. But around 70 percent of theaters in the U.S. have since opened their doors, much of that in anticipation of Tenet and, to a lesser degree, The New Mutants. Unfortunately, with other big movies like Wonder Woman 1984, Candyman, The King’s Man and Greenland now delayed, they are once again left with little new product to show that can attract a large number of moviegoers. Richard Gelfond, CEO of Imax, had this to say.
“Where people feel safe, they are going to the movies. That’s how it’s playing out with ‘Tenet.’ The international results in places like China are really good. In the U.S., people didn’t come out in the same numbers.”
To make matters worse, it’s expected that Disney will delay both Black Widow and Pixar’s Soul. This means the next blockbuster on the books is No Time to Die, which is still scheduled for November 20. But at this point, all release dates feel like placeholders. Brian Schultz, founder and CEO of Studio Movie Grill, had this to say.
“It feels like distribution has kind of abandoned the movie theaters. I understand the core economics at play here, but without new product, we can’t keep things going. Christopher Nolan put an amazing stake in the ground with ‘Tenet,’ but now other studios need to follow his lead.”
Whether or not big chains like AMC, which has been on the verge of bankruptcy for months, can hang on remains to be seen. It’s said that many theaters are operating at a loss right now, given reduced auditorium capacities and extra expense brought on by increased health and safety measures. But it’s smaller chains like Studio Movie Grill that may be in serious trouble if something doesn’t change. Sadly, there is no indication of a miraculous turn of events on the horizon. This news comes to us via Variety.