The Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi action film opened in U.S. theaters on September 3rd, making it the first major motion picture to screen in American cinemas since the Covid-19 outbreak forced the closure of movie theaters six months ago as well as the postponement of the entire summer movie schedule.
Over 2,800 multiplexes screened Tenet this weekend, Box Office Mojo reports. However, movie theaters in many states and cities — including Los Angeles and New York City — remain closed due to social distancing guidelines and phased reopening, resulting in the $20 million opening; overseas, where many countries have a better handling of the coronavirus and thus received an earlier opening for Tenet, the film has so far grossed over $150 million in international box office.
In a statement to Variety, the film’s studio Warner Bros. said they were “very pleased” with Tenet’s opening weekend. “There is literally no context in which to compare the results of a film opening during a pandemic with any other circumstance,” the studio said. “We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-COVID world would be inequitable and baseless.”
The $20 million total also doesn’t factor in potential Labor Day audiences. Tenet is also the only major release scheduled for the remainder of September, with Wonder Woman 1984 not arriving until October 2nd (as of now). Tenet’s box office will be “a marathon not a sprint,” Warner Bros. added.
Last week, the X-Men spinoff New Mutants led the box office with $7 million as multiplexes prepared for the arrival of Tenet.