Christopher Nolan's new movie Tenet has taken on an almost mythical significance in the last few months. With the cinema industry experiencing one of its worst years on record, expectations were that Nolan's film would redeem a flatlining summer of non-movies. That Tenet was itself repeatedly bounced around the schedule, eventually landing in the UK and Ireland on 26th August, only made people more apprehensive of the outcome.
With a (tentative) sigh of relief, reports are coming in that Tenet has exceeded its initial box office projections. Variety reports that Tenet has grossed $53.6 million globally (not including the USA) during its opening weekend, outstripping initial projections of $30 million. Reports from ScreenDaily say that £5.4 million of Tenet's takings came from the UK alone, a strong start given the challenging circumstances surrounding the film's release.
The film's budget stretched upwards of $200 million, and that isn't including marketing costs, so it's clearly got some way to go. Nevertheless, it's an encouraging sign, and another indication of the Nolan brand of brainy, challenging popcorn entertainment. Virtually all of Nolan's films have turned a healthy profit, even the lower-budget likes of Memento, which grossed $39.7 million against its $4 million cost.
The profitability of Nolan's films usually goes hand in hand with glowing critical plaudits, although many people have confessed bewilderment over Tenet's storyline. Will this confusion prompt repeat visits from viewers? It's the strategy that propelled the likes of Titanic to success, with its initial opening weekend of $28 million eventually giving way to $2 billion worldwide. That made it the highest-grossing movie ever at the time.
Of course, Tenet is being released in very different circumstances. Nevertheless, with his apparently deliberate bid to challenge and confound the viewing audience, Nolan may well draw people back again and again, further boosting the film's financial performance. And, of course, the film is yet to open in North America, one of the countries worst blighted by COVID-19, but a territory that is key to the overall performance of a big-budget blockbuster such as this. The film arrives there on 3rd September.
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