The release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” was expected to be a return to some semblance of pre-coronavirus normalcy for movie theaters, but the industry might have a longer road ahead than some thought.
Around 68 percent of movie theaters across the U.S. were open for the film’s debut over Labor Day weekend, but it made just $9.8 million over that weekend, according to the New York Times.
While there were no expectations that “Tenet” would perform as well as Nolan’s past films — it made about one-fifth of what his most recent blockbusters earned in their opening weekends — its performance was much worse than Hollywood hoped.
That could be attributed, in part, to widespread theater closures in New York and Los Angeles, two of the biggest markets in the country. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hesitated to reopen movie theaters, even as museums, gyms and indoor dining have all resumed.
But there are also larger concerns that moviegoers simply aren’t ready to return to theaters.
“We have no way of forecasting how long it will take for consumer comfort with indoor movie theaters to return,” said media researcher Rich Greenfield in a report cited by the Times.
Shares in AMC, which opened many of its theaters nationwide in August, climbed the day “Tenet” hit theaters, but have since fallen about 17 percent. Cinemark has also seen an 18 percent decline since Sept. 4, while Regal Cinemas’ parent company has experienced a 14 percent decline.
Theater operators are left without much information for planning. They’re largely beholden to Hollywood sticking to its release schedule and reopenings in major cities like New York, L.A. and San Francisco. Schedule-wise, “Tenet”’s poor performance has prompted studios to push back the opening dates for some major releases, including “Wonder Woman 1984.”
[NYT] — Dennis Lynch