Christopher Nolan's film makes history as the first blockbuster to be released during a pandemic.
"Tenet" will raise $ 20.2 million per Warner Bros. by Labor Day. This number isn't just for the weekend. It reflects all of the engagement, including 13 days in Canada (where multiple sources tell IndieWire that it may grossed $ 2.6 million over the first weekend, which the studio hasn't confirmed) and eight days in the US.
In a press release, the studio demands that the reaction be shown in this light:
While our domestic results show positive comparable theater indicators compared to previous films like "Dunkirk," there is literally no context in which the results of a film opening during a pandemic can be compared to other circumstances. We are in an unprecedented territory, so comparing it to the pre-COVID world would be unfair and unfounded.
Operation Christopher Nolan to the rescue achieved its primary goal. It played in 2,810 theaters in the United States and Canada. Without specific daily or weekly numbers, and without adding Labor Day, we have to speculate on what this means.
Warners also revealed new international numbers, with China and Russia being the top store openings this week. The global grand total as of Sunday is $ 126 million (double the first weekend, three major territories have been added since then), with an estimate of $ 146 million by Monday.
China led the way with a decent $ 30 million; It's the best opening of a Nolan movie. (Although Interstellar's first weekend isn't available, the first full week was $ 42 million). While that number isn't massive for the country, it is probably the most encouraging number seen for the film to date.
Given all the obstacles, $ 146 million is also positive. The film would never achieve anything close to its potential under COVID-19 conditions. It's still early, and with debris piling up in the weeks ahead, we can better see where it's going to land.
Our initial, very broad range of total estimates ranged from $ 250 million to $ 600 million worldwide. These numbers suggest that $ 300 million should be exceeded. That would be a win in itself, but to make a profit ($ 205 million in production cost, easily at least half the cost of marketing) the film would take a huge after-theater life to make a profit.
In holdovers, three countries reported declines on the second weekend from Friday to Sunday. However, these opened earlier in the week so they are not a true tell. In any case, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom had sales between $ 2.8 and $ 2.9 million, down 24, 53, and 35 percent, respectively. Serious, but it doesn't reflect a resurgence.
This, too, is far less the central point than getting the theater back on its feet. It is appropriate that Warner Bros. celebrate this, as well as the requirement that the analysis not need to be judged too quickly. However, this also means avoiding assuming the best possible point of view. There are ways to estimate the three-day number without taking the earnings before Friday and Labor Day. The challenge is to describe fairly what that means.
We know this: sources suggested last week that $ 20 million would be a good opening weekend. In this respect it fell short.
The short-term onslaught of theater openings in New Jersey, Maryland, and San Diego Counties (even more populous than 17 states) was likely triggered in part by a perceived major release. Regardless of the gross response, Warners 'leadership in taking this risk (further emphasized by Disney making “Mulan” a very high quality VoD at the same time) was critical to the theaters' rebound potential. Around 70 percent of Canada and the United States are open. In the US alone, 65 percent of theaters are open, and several areas (including most of California and New York) are still closed.
Otherwise, Labor Day weekend is the holiday doormat for the cinema release. Usually it's the last hurray for vacations and outdoor activities. Football is in front and in the center; Additionally, schools start in earnest, and it is often the lowest income month of the year. No time to release top movies.
However, Friday-Sunday last year delivered a gross domestic product of $ 91 million. This year, including Tenet, the amount is expected to be between $ 18 million and $ 22 million. A head-to-head comparison that is misleading at best, but still poses a problem.
Theaters have costs: landlords have to be paid, the employees have a salary and a large part of the ticket sales goes to studios ("Tenet" sees over 60 percent). You can operate at a loss for a short period of time, but this is likely as good as it will be for at least a month. It's scary
While Warner Bros. holds numbers that are essential to gross earnings analysis, credit them with transparency with the Cinemascore. It's a B and mediocre in its simple rating scheme. Of the 10 highest-grossing films released earlier this year, four were A or A-, and two more were B +. B is the score of "Dolittle" and "Like a Boss" ("Fantasy Island" at C – made the list of highest earning nearby by default at just $ 22 million).
To be fair, idiosyncratic directors with a distinctive style often rate less (“Once upon a time in Hollywood” got a B). But it's the lowest rating a Nolan movie has received since it broke into blockbuster circles. It's also surprising as circumstances mean that those who go to the theater have a higher level of interest.
On a weekend when “Tenet” competes on Disney + on Premium VOD against “Mulan”, the latter opened in theaters in several international areas. These aren't the big ones. China and Russia debut this Friday. The company had sales of $ 5.9 million, ranking first in the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. All of them opened “Tenet” last weekend. Without certain numbers, we cannot compare directly. Disney reports that “Mulan” in Singapore and Thailand had its biggest opening this year. That would include Nolan's film.
Here, too, we lack a quorum of initial publications to present a normal top 10. These are estimates for the three day weekend and, as usual, Labor Day, which is likely much higher than a normal Monday.
The gap between tenet and holdovers is steep. This is not surprising. The disappointing news is that even with a big new title, the numbers don't suggest any theaters are returning. Or just as likely, the titles themselves aren't strong enough to draw audiences back in.
Disney's "The New Mutants" is # 2 at the weekend at $ 2.9 million, down 59 percent in week two for $ 11.6 million in 10 days. Expect this to fall below $ 20 million domestically, even with longer than usual game play.
"Unhinged", in third place, continues. On its third weekend in the US (an extra week in Canada), it used a little less than $ 1.7 million, a 35 percent decrease from $ 11.3 million. With its early release and decent handles, this has a respectable stance on it, but it seems to miss the stated $ 30 million domestic target.
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Bill & Ted Face the Music (United Artists), which has high PVOD sales, no longer reports. The best guess is that # 4 grossed around $ 600,000 in 953 cinemas (about a third as many as "Mutants"). It has hit theaters around $ 2.2 million so far, on top of the much larger (but unreported) total house-goers.
"The Personal Story of David Copperfield" (Searchlight) took fifth place, albeit for only $ 361,000 in 1,550 theaters. That's an average per theater of $ 233, a little over $ 1.1 million in 10 days.
Only in Canada has "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" (Paramount) increased by 345,000 US dollars in the last three weeks. That's about $ 3.7 million in total. There will be streaming in the US next year.
Words On Bathroom Walls rounded out the seven new releases (six in the US) and added $ 282,000 over the third weekend. That brings it to $ 1,541,000 so far.
More theaters are opening this Friday, including the entire state of North Carolina, the Philadelphia area, and more in New Jersey that wouldn't make it by this weekend.
What is critical now is to see if the pre-announced top films under the direction of Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.) stay in place (there is no evidence from the studio that they will not is) and how "Tenet" works ahead. These revenues mean neither victory nor darkness for the industry. Like everything else in the COVID-19 world, we are in completely unknown territory.
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