Tenet (2020)

Jeff Cooper

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Perhaps they are using Inception as a test case just to see how willing people are to come back out to the theater and then may adjust Tenets release date based on that. This would explain Inception continually taking Tenets previous date.

As far as just pushing the release date back a few weeks instead of months, at some point in the future it's going to be safe to go back. And at some point in the future, it's going to be a few weeks before it's safe. Since that date is unknown, the only way to get the jump on it is to just keep delaying in small increments. If you push it back 3 months, and then it ends up that the 'safe' date is only 2 weeks in the future, then you've screwed up and overshot by several months.

Not saying any of this is common sense, just from a logical business perspective.
 

Jake Lipson

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the longer they wait, the more money they'll make.
Yep.

Dan Murrell, a critic I follow on Twitter, said in response to the Tenet delay that "I think all 2020 movies should just be given a release date of TBD at this point. I understand wishful thinking, but there are too many variables right now."

I can't take credit for his statement, but I agree with it.
 
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Jason_V

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This movie is going to be a hit whenever it comes out (relatively speaking if they open in a month and a half and can only sell 30% of a theater) but the longer they wait, the more money they'll make.
Not if the theater chains go bankrupt and only a fraction are ever able to open again. Sure, that's doomsday, worst case scenario, but here we are.
 
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Malcolm R

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Not if the theater chains go bankrupt and only a fraction are ever able to open again. Sure, that's doomsday, worst case scenario, but here we are.
Yes, the studios need to stop jerking the theaters around. The local theaters around here are preparing for an early/mid July opening with the expectation they'd be showing new films by mid/late month. In much of the northeast the virus seems relatively under control. The studios should go with a regional release pattern, as they used to, allowing those areas that are willing and able to open theaters to screen new movies. The grosses in California are not going to be affected later because the film opened two months earlier in the northeast.

Many theaters aren't going to be able to hang on much longer. They all still have rents to pay, utilities, and other expenses even when they're closed with zero income. That can't go on indefinitely.
 

Jake Lipson

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Warner posted a new poster image for Tenet on its social media channels. It's unclear if there are actually physical posters being printed up with this image, because where would they hang them if theaters are closed? But what's interesting to me is that it actually includes the August 12 release date. Is there any point in that really? I will be very surprised if that date sticks, which just means the marketing department will have to revise things again in a couple of weeks.

Tenet.jpg
 

Jason_V

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Warner posted a new poster image for Tenet on its social media channels. It's unclear if there are actually physical posters being printed up with this image, because where would they hang them if theaters are closed? But what's interesting to me is that it actually includes the August 12 release date. Is there any point in that really? I will be very surprised if that date sticks, which just means the marketing department will have to revise things again in a couple of weeks.

View attachment 74938
If you can get your hands on one of these posters, they're gonna be a collector's item. :)

On my way out of Disneyland on Leap Weekend, I got handed a Mulan pin with the original March release date on it. I thought it was cool at the time...lucky, I got two...one for me and one for a Disney friend. I have no idea how many of them got handed out or if people actually held onto them.
 

Jake Lipson

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I was thinking about the whole issue with Tenet tonight. It seems like most in Hollywood are concerned with how and when it can open. But then I thought of a different question that isn't being asked quite as much.

Onward opened back in March. Then its run was unceremoniously cut short by the virus, which resulted in the film being an almost total loss for Disney/Pixar. Yes, they moved it to VOD and Disney+ very quickly and might have gotten some more subscriptions out of it, but the movie was budgeted under the assumption that it would have a normal, complete theatrical window, because when they were making it, there was no reason to assume otherwise. So it lost its money. But it opened.

My point here is: Opening is not the end goal; that's one thing, one day on a calendar. Staying open and having a profitable run long-term is the goal.

So let's say, hypothetically, that everything is actually safe and Tenet can open on August 12. What happens if there's another surge in cases and things have to close down again in two or three weeks or four weeks or whatever? Opening is one thing, but they're going to need Tenet to stick around in theaters for a while, especially with capacity limits. If Tenet opens and then has to close, what then? Things are changing with the virus on a daily basis, so I'm not sure how WB will be able to guarantee that Tenet (or any other movie) is able to stay in theaters for long enough to make money.

I wrote a few days ago in the catch-all thread that a local Cinemark was supposed to open on Friday. That's not happening now because cases have surged and our local government has ordered theaters to stay closed for the time being. Whenever theaters actually do open again, what's to stop that from happening again and stalling the releases of whatever big movies happen to have gotten out the door in the interim? Opening is just one day, and then it's opened. Staying open for long enough to make money is another issue altogether.

I'm sure that Dan Scanlon and the team over at Pixar were disappointed when circumstances required that Onward's theatrical release had to be cut short. I was disappointed too on their behalf, and I don't have anything to do with the movie. But Nolan would take it worse than they did. If Tenet opens on August 12 and then by September, theaters have to close again, WB would likely decide they have no choice but to shift Tenet over to VOD and HBO Max early, which is certainly not how Nolan wants people to find it. So is it worth putting out while conditions are so unpredictable?
 

Jake Lipson

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Even in the fall, I'm not sure WB or any other studio would have assurances that they would need to execute a release like Tenet without the possibility that theaters could re-close at any moment. And then they would be stuck with a film that is unable to recoup its investment because being rushed onto streaming won't make the kind of money that a tentpole needs to make. I just don't see how it's viable to do anything until they know that a film can have a normal release window in a theatrical environment.

If things had gotten bad a few weeks before they did, Onward would have been pulled and rescheduled the same as Mulan was. Instead, it had the misfortune of being the final tentpole that happened to be released just in advance of the virus outbreak (at least in the United States.) Although I love that film, and I was so happy that I got to see it in the theater with my friend, there is no question that its grosses were significantly diminished by not being able to run its natural course in theaters. Being rescheduled would have benefited its total if only Disney had known what was coming. But they didn't, so of course they put it out as normal. They had no reason to expect this shutdown to happen. March has been an extremely successful release window many times in the past, due to kids being on school break as well as the fact that their film positioned there is usually one of the first huge tentpoles of the new year. So of course it made sense to keep Onward there with no warning that there would be problems.

Now, the studios do have reason to expect problems to happen.

So forget about August or September or October or whatever date it ends up being. What happens if Tenet actually comes out, at whatever time, and then a week or two later theaters have to shut down again? WB would be screwed. The film would be screwed. And Nolan wouldn't like their having to dump it on HBO Max early.
 
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Jake Lipson

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I understand that Nolan wants to show support to movie theaters. I love the movie theater as much as anyone and I want them to be able to come back own the other side of this. But it won't matter if audiences aren't ready to show up to them, and I think he is currently misreading the willingness of the audience to show up en masse.

He can say it's not about the money for him, and it might not be (although it certainly is for WB.). But I would think that he wants as many people as possible to feel comfortable coming to see the movie. I don't think we're there yet.

I love Nolan's work, and he has consistently provided a great big screen experience. If the virus was not happening, I would have been there on opening weekend without a moment's hesitation. But the virus is happening, so if this comes out now, I'm out.
 
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Wayne_j

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Wouldn't studios be better off if when theaters eventually open up nationwide they just show catalogue titles for a couple of weeks while studios unleash their publicity campaign for their new films. Constantly moving the release dates aren't helping anyone.
 
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Jake Lipson

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That's why I think that all 2020 films should be moved to "TBD" at this point. There are too many variables right now. It serves no purpose to keep announcing release dates until they know that they can keep one. Just saying, "We are going to put the movies out as soon as possible and will date them when we have more information" is a better approach than what they are currently doing.
 
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TravisR

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Jake Lipson

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You'd think that Warners would know that they own the movie and can release it whenever they want.
I don't get it, either. Nolan is certainly their most important filmmaker and they want to keep him happy, but I'm not sure what they expect to happen if they push back against him on this. He has been making blockbusters for WB for so many years now and obviously has a great relationship with them. What would he do, walk away and make his next film for a rival studio just because they sat on Tenet longer than he would like? That makes no sense whatsoever, and I would like to think that he wouldn't throw away the relationship with the studio just over that. So I'm not sure why they are giving him so much power here.
 
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TravisR

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I don't get it, either. Nolan is certainly their most important filmmaker and they want to keep him happy, but I'm not sure what they expect to happen if they push back against him on this. He has been making blockbusters for WB for so many years now and obviously has a great relationship with them. What would he do, walk away and make his next film for a rival studio just because they sat on Tenet longer than he would like? That makes no sense whatsoever, and I would like to think that he wouldn't throw away the relationship with the studio just over that. So I'm not sure why they are giving him so much power here.
Yeah, I mean if the situation was that the movie was a dud and they had to recut it (though I'm sure Nolan has final cut), I can see being worried about their future working relationship but it's not like waiting-until-things-calm-down is an irrational plan & it shouldn't anger Nolan. I understand that he wants people to see his movie and he wants to help theaters after a horrible financial hit but the downside is that far less people will see the movie and the potential threat to life, I would think would make him be on board with waiting until the end of the year or next summer.
 

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