‘Tenet’ Might Open Overseas Before It Plays in the U.S.
Just last month, movie theaters confidently announced they would be back up and running by mid-July, with new safety measures designed to protect guests from exposure to Covid-19.
The coronavirus had other plans. Cases around the country have skyrocketed, and now all of the movies that were left on the summer release calendar — the ones that were inspiring exhibitors to try to open back up by mid-July — are postponed to a later date. AMC has already said they now won’t open their theaters until mid-August at the earliest. Even if they did, without Tenet, Mulan, and A Quiet Place: Part II there wouldn’t be much to show.
Other countries have done a far better job at containing the coronavirus, and in some areas, theaters can reopen, or have already. (Many Chinese movie theaters were expected to reopen today, with rules about social distancing and a ban on eating and drinking in the theater.) When they reopen, they need movies to show. The studios have movies sitting on the shelf just waiting to be released. Could they skip the American market for now, and release their movies internationally?
Variety says yes. In fact, their sources claim that Warner Bros. is considering a plan to release Tenet in Europe, where theaters are already open, in a month:
Exhibitors in the U.K., France and Spain have been told by the studio to plan for an Aug. 26-28 launch. The dates are not confirmed, though sources indicate that talks are positive. It’s understood the studio is also aiming to release the film early in Asia, with exhibitors in the region expecting to receive a new date in the next few days.
When Warner Bros. delayed Tenet’s American release, they said in a statement that they were not going to treat it “like a traditional global day-and-date release,” suggesting that the movie could open in certain international markets before others. The main reason not to try it, particularly with a movie like Tenet, is because as soon as the movie is playing in theaters, the internet will be swamped with spoilers (and possibly even pirated copies), which could severely hurt the film’s box office potential in places where it’s yet to open.
On the other hand, if you can’t release Tenet anywhere until you can release it everywhere at once, it might not be screened for a very long time. If only there was some kind of technology that allowed people to move forwards and backwards through time, these kinds of tough decisions would be easier to make.
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