The pandemic has severely impacted the new film’s sales.
Since the release of WarnerMedia’s Tenet into theaters last month, the film has made about $333.9 million in global profit. While this is a decent profit that made the studio’s money back and then some, WarnerMedia is not impressed with the numbers.
“I can’t tell you that we walked away from the ‘Tenet’ experience saying it was a home run,” AT&T chief John Stankey said, though he clarified that he was still “happy we did it.”
In a typical cinema release scenario, such a high-profile film, especially one starring Christopher Nolan, would gross at least $50 million in its domestic opening weekend alone. However, with many theaters still closed and moviegoers unwilling to visit due to the pandemic, it simply wasn’t possible for Tenet to make the kind of money it would in normal times.
WarnerMedia is viewing this underwhelming performance as a bad sign for the theater industry overall. “We’re not optimistic,” Stankey said. “We’re not…expecting a huge recovery in theatrical moving into the early part of next year. We’re expecting it to continue to be choppy.”
If the theater industry does not recover entirely and promptly, movie production companies may need to consider alternative means of selling their product. “As we get through the next month or two and we look at what’s occurring, we’ll call the cards on the A plan and the B plan and the C plan and kind of come back to you,” Stankey said. “So that’s kind of the best I can give you on where we are in restarting that.”
As WarnerMedia owns the rights to HBO, there is a valid possibility theatrical releases could begin premiering on services like HBO Max first. This would be a critical blow to theater owners across the United States, many of whom are barely treading water even as they attempt to adjust their policies and reopen.