Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s upcoming time-twisting film, was expected to be one of this summer’s marquee blockbusters before the very act of moviegoing was preempted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, after already pushing back its premiere twice, Warner Bros. has pulled the movie from its schedule entirely. When (or how) the film will make its way to screens in the U.S. is unclear.
The film, starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, was originally marked to arrive on July 17. Twice it was pushed back, and each time by two weeks; its most scheduled recent release date was August 12. And each each time, that seemed, generously speaking, overly ambitious. But that spoke to how important the movie was for both Warner Bros. and theaters in the U.S.
Many in the film industry had hoped it would anchor a successful reopening of cinemas. The studio is promising to have answers soon about its indefinite delay. However, the film could be getting a very different kind of release than expected.
In a statement, Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, explained the studio’s reasons for the delay and how they plan to move forward.
“Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen. We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world. Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to proliferate, causing us to reevaluate our release dates. Amidst all this continued uncertainty, we have decided to vacate the current dates for our next two releases. We will share a new 2020 release date imminently for Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s wholly original and mind-blowing feature. We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that. Additionally, we will be moving the next installment from our most-successful horror franchise, The Conjuring 3, to June 4, 2021.”
According to Variety, Warner Bros. executives say they’ll need to be “flexible” with the film’s release. That might be the only way to walk a delicate tightrope with partners around the world. Theaters outside the U.S. have already begun opening or will in the near future. Thus, Tenet could premiere internationally first; it might even open up in select cities domestically per the ruling of local governments.
What still seems unlikely at this point is that Warner Bros. will release the film on demand in the U.S. But COVID is still surging in the United States, and there’s no way to know how soon a theatrical release will even be possible here. Would Warner Bros. relay delay its U.S. release, even via VOD, indefinitely if the movie has opened overseas? What happens when pirated copies begin making their way to the web? There are obviously no easy answer at this time. But at least we can all stop pretending like we’re just two weeks away from getting them.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.