Warner Bros. has again pushed back the release date for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” It’s the second delay for the highly anticipated tentpole, which has been primed to reignite moviegoing after lengthy cinema closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The movie, which cost $200 million, was initially slated to arrive in theaters on July 17, but was later postponed until July 31. Now, it will be released on Aug. 12.
“Warner Bros. is committed to bringing ‘Tenet’ to audiences in theaters, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it’s time,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement. “In this moment what we need to be is flexible, and we are not treating this as a traditional movie release. We are choosing to open the movie mid-week to allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”
The studio has also delayed the rerelease of Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster “Inception,” in honor of its 10th anniversary, to July 31.
The latest shift for “Tenet” comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that movie theaters in his state would not be included in Phase 4 of reopening. Without cinemas in New York City and Los Angeles back in business, the big-budget action epic will be deprived of two of the country’s biggest moviegoing markets. As parts of the nation have started to reopen, some states have seen massive spikes in infection rates. That could further derail the industry’s plans to go back to the movies.
Even if multiplexes across the country are able to open to a significant degree in July, it’s still unclear if audiences will feel safe going back to theaters while the disease is still spreading. Exhibitors, in an effort to quell those fears, have detailed new safety procedures that will help keep their theaters clean. Those efforts include increased physical-distancing measures, enhanced cleaning protocols and capping attendance at 50% or less of capacity. Additionally, cinema chains including AMC, Regal and Alamo Drafthouse will require patrons to wear masks.
For now, Disney’s “Mulan” remake is expected to be the first potential blockbuster to open since theaters closed in March. The $200 million-budgeted live-action adaptation is scheduled to debut on July 24. But many industry experts speculate that date could be moved back again. On Wednesday, Disney amended plans to reopen Disneyland, which was set for July 17, as COVID-19 cases continue to escalate in California. Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland Park recently reopened, and Walt Disney World in Florida is still on track to resume business on July 11.
In the meantime, Russell Crowe’s thriller “Unhinged” and Sony’s rom-com “The Broken Hearts Gallery” will test audiences’ appetite for new movies on the big screen when they launch on July 10 and July 17, respectively.
“Tenet” — which stars Robert Pattison and John David Washington — follows an operative tasked with preventing the next world war. Like most of Nolan’s movies, the espionage thriller is shrouded in secrecy. Nolan’s film credits include “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Dunkirk” and “Interstellar.”