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‘Tenet,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Push Back Theatrical Releases

Tenet Movie Warner Bros
Courtesy of Warner Bros./Melinda Sue Gordon

Tenet,” Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated espionage thriller, has pushed back its theatrical debut by two weeks, ending months of speculation about whether or not the $200 million tentpole would hold onto its mid-July release date.

The Warner Bros. film, which stars Robert Pattinson and John David Washington, was initially slated for July 17 and will now debut in cinemas on July 31. On the date that “Tenet” was expected to open, theaters will re-release one of Nolan’s biggest hits, “Inception,” in honor of its 10th anniversary.

Warner Bros. also postponed “Wonder Woman 1984” nearly two months, from Aug. 14 to Oct. 2. This marks the second shift for the superhero sequel, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot. The film was originally set to kick off summer on June 5, but was delayed until August once theaters began to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re especially thrilled, in this complex and rapidly changing environment, to be bringing Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet,’ a global tentpole of jaw-dropping size, scope and scale, to theaters around the world on July 31,” said Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “It’s been longer than any of us could’ve imagined since we’ve seen a movie on the big screen, and to acknowledge Chris’ fans as we count down to ‘Tenet’’s” opening day, we are also excited to offer his masterpiece ‘Inception’ in theaters for its 10th anniversary on July 17.”

Nolan, one of the most ardent supporters of the big-screen experience, was hoping “Tenet” would usher audiences back into theaters, which have been mostly closed across the country since the middle of March to help curb the global health crisis. Though some states have started to reopen cinemas, major movie theater chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark don’t have plans to resume business until later in the summer. When they are able to restart shop, it’s unclear how willing audiences will be to return to the movies. Though “Tenet” was only slightly shifted back, Warner Bros. believes more theaters will be open by the end of July.

While every other major Hollywood studio has shifted, delayed or amended plans to premiere its movies, Warner Bros. long held firm that “Tenet” would maintain its release date. However, the studio reignited doubts that “Tenet” would debut as planned when it launched a new trailer last month that conspicuously lacked an opening date.

“We are excited that our partners at Warner Bros. will offer a new generation of film fans the opportunity to enjoy Inception the way it was originally intended to be seen — on the big screen,” the National Association of Theatre Owners, the exhibition industry’s trade organization, said in a statement. “Over these last months we have been keeping Warner Bros. closely informed of our work towards reopening our theatres in accordance with governmental health and safety requirements, and we are looking forward to audiences enjoying Tenet in our theatres all around the world on July 31st.”

Now, Disney’s remake of “Mulan” will be the first major film to reignite moviegoing when it debuts on July 24. Before that, two smaller movies — Russell Crowe’s thriller “Unhinged” from Solstice Studios and Sony’s romance drama “The Broken Hearts Gallery” — are slated to launch in theaters on July 10. Since those films are both modestly budgeted, they give theater owners the opportunity to show fresh content on the big screen with less of a risk for their financial backers.

Over the past few months, Warner Bros. overhauled much of its upcoming slate, shifting around titles like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights” (June 18, 2021) and Robert Pattinson’s “The Batman” (June 25, 2021). “Scoob,” an animated film based on “Scooby-Doo” characters, skipped its planned release in theaters and instead debuted on digital rental services.

Nolan, whose credits also include “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Interstellar,” wrote and directed “Tenet,” about a secret agent tasked with preventing another world war. Like most of the director’s movies, plot details have intentionally been kept under wraps. Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh round out the cast.

“Wonder Woman 1984,” a follow-up to the 2017 critical and commercial hit “Wonder Woman,” follows Diana Prince in the 1980s as the Amazonian warrior goes toe to toe with two formidable foes — Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) — while reuniting with her past love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The cast also includes Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen.

This article has been updated to reflect the delay of “Wonder Woman: 1984.”