Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has been moved by Warner Bros. from its original July 17 release date to July 31, as the studio continues to reorganize its release calendar in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The studio on Friday also moved a pack of other dates, including releases for “Wonder Woman 1984” and the upcoming “Matrix” sequel.
While Universal Pictures made headlines this year for putting new releases on VOD platforms (see “Trolls World Tour” and “The King of Staten Island”), Nolan would not allow such a move for “Tenet.” Nolan is one of the biggest advocates for the big screen experience.
In its place, Warner Bros. will re-release Nolan’s “Inception” on July 17 in theaters, timed for the film’s 10th anniversary.
“Tenet” is an espionage action epic starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson as detectives who somehow can manipulate time to solve cases and carry out top secret missions. Like all Nolan films, not much else about the “Tenet” storyline is known. The supporting cast includes Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Clemence Poesy, and Kenneth Branagh.
As IndieWire previously reported, Nolan had “Tenet” finished for release on July 17 and was simply waiting to hear if theaters would be re-opened by then and allow him to play the film. IndieWire’s box-office editor Tom Brueggemann wrote the film would have an advantage by sticking to its July 17 date by being able to play “on virtually every screen in the country” as the only new title in release. While California has given the go-ahead for movie theaters to reopen, it’s left up to Los Angeles venues to decide when they’re ready to welcome audiences, and at limited capacity given health guidelines.
Nolan has already gone on record calling “Tenet” the biggest film of his career. The filmmaker told Entertainment Weekly last December, “We’re jumping off from the point of view of an espionage film, but we’re going to a number of different places. We’re crossing a few different genres in a hopefully exciting and fresh way. [Producer] Emma [Thomas] and I have put together a lot of large-scale productions, but this is certainly the biggest in terms of international reach. We shot in seven countries, all over the place, with a massive cast and huge set pieces. There’s no question, it’s the most ambitious film we’ve made.”
Warner Bros. has good reason to push “Tenet” for theatrical release, as the director is one of its most profitable filmmakers. Nolan has been working with Warner Bros. since the 2002 release of “Insomnia” and has never made a Hollywood movie outside of the studio. Nolan’s career at the studio includes his billion dollar grossing “Dark Knight” trilogy and such acclaimed tentpoles as “Inception” and “Dunkirk.” The “Tenet” delay follows Warner Bros. similar postponement of Patty Jenkins’ superhero movie “Wonder Woman 1984” earlier the year. “Tenet” is one of the summer movie season’s biggest original entries.