Why Studios Are Still Unsure About Putting Big Movies in Theaters After ‘Tenet’ Opening Weekend

“A single weekend isn’t going to be enough when the number of theaters open fluctuates ever week,” analyst Paul Dergarabedian says

Usually, a film’s opening weekend at the box office provides a pretty clear picture of how profitable its theatrical run will be. But in a COVID-19 world, no one in Hollywood’s C-suites wants to make that call about Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” — the $200 million Warner Bros. tentpole that earned $20 million over Labor Day weekend in 2,810 reduced-capacity theaters.

That box office performance is way below Nolan’s recent hits — “Dunkirk” debuted with $50.5 million in  2017 before a $190 million domestic gross — but it was also consistent with what analysts and theater owners told TheWrap they expected. Those estimates were based on the number of theaters open, the limited capacity and the debut weekends of “Unhinged” and “The New Mutants,” two studio films that had opened in late August just as North American theaters began reopening.

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Jeremy Fuster

Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com