Releasing 'Tenet' is Now a $200 Million Gamble

Tenet
Warner Brother is making Howard Ratner proud with this insane wager. 

The coronavirus pandemic has us all on edge. As restrictions ease and people try to go back to normal life, movie theaters are working to figure out what they can show and how they can show it

The biggest movie with chances of returning for people to watch is Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending original film Tenet

As of right now, Warner Brothers is planning on releasing the film in theaters in July, making it the first film since the COVID-19 pandemic to debut worldwide. 

While Nolan's track record speaks for itself, it's not just the draw of the audience but also the insane worry that comes with going to the theater that any release has to manage. 

Do people really want to be cooped up for a reportedly 3-hour and 15-minute movie? 

Even if it's spectacular, I can't imagine sitting near a stranger for that long. 

And when someone inevitably coughs...game over, man

But who knows what the world will look like in mid-July? 

The budget for Tenet is reported $200 million. And with prints, ads, and marketing materials you're looking at an expense of around $300-$400 million. I'm sure Warner Brothers is sweating. They could punt the movie to later in the year like James Bond did with its new film, but if there's a chance that theaters can open and be safe, it pays to be the only big release available. 

It could be programmed on every screen. 

But factor this in with the complicated genrescience fictionand you get a big gamble. 

This is not big IP like an Avengers: Endgame

I mean, look at Tenet's logline

"Armed with only one wordTenetand fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time."

While that makes me excited for the movie, it's not exactly welcoming to mass audiences.  

Right now, Tenet is slated to hit theaters on July 17th. 

Only time will tell if it happens and if the gamble pays off. 

Would you release Tenet in July if you were Warner Brothers? Do you plan on seeing it if it does hit theaters as planned? Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

18 Comments

Love the trailer ...ok I'm in!!! Even if 3 hours is LONG and Nolan can be hit or miss for me... (Dunkirk was really bad) ... Let's get back to the movies ...most of us are not scared!

May 26, 2020 at 12:12PM

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Dunkirk is my favourite of his (and Tarantino's favourite too). Different strokes...

May 27, 2020 at 3:03AM

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Stu Mannion
writer/dir/dp
957

In my opinion, Dunkirk was one of the best movies of the last decade. With that being said, Inception, Dark Knight, and most of Nolan's movies are fantastic, so I'm sure this will be great.

May 31, 2020 at 9:47AM

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Sheldon
Director, DP
74

Promote it and do a Youtube rental premiere.

May 26, 2020 at 4:06PM

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Dantly Wyatt
Writer, Director, Content Creator.
996

They could have played a smart game about it if they wanted to make their money back. They could put together the tech for online watch parties (in conjunction to FB or YT). Most of the people go to see blockbusters as a team. If doing it in flesh is not feasible, then they could have hyped virtual team watches. For $20 (rent price), if they hyped it up enough, and doing that type of streaming for 1 month (before allowing the movie to go to regular streaming), they could make their money back. Twitter would be abuzz about it!

May 26, 2020 at 6:47PM

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Eugenia Loli
Filmmaker, illustrator, collage artist
410

I'm afraid you completely missed the point of what Nolan is trying to do with this movie. The idea is to get people back in front of the big screen, to keep cinemas from dying, not watch it at home, cause no matter what anyone says it's not the same kind of experience. Go see it in theaters or wait for months to see it at home!

May 27, 2020 at 1:35AM

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I didn't miss the point, I know that Nolan is a film cinema diehard. The thing is though, I don't agree with him. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago in another thread here, I don't go to theaters anymore. And after the virus, a lot more people won't either. Tenet or not tenet.

May 27, 2020 at 5:21PM

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Eugenia Loli
Filmmaker, illustrator, collage artist
410

wow ... so you call yourself a Filmmaker yet you don't go to theaters anymore ... how sad

May 29, 2020 at 9:22PM

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I mean, they did premiere the trailer for the film inside of Fortnite, and showed an entire film as well. They're not shy about online content to reach the masses. Of course, all of us film fanatics are more concerned about the quality rather than the content. I'm concerned about it too, but we're living in different times and the mass majority of consumers don't give quality a second thought. There are ways to recoup the money, like you suggest. But I'm not sure we've seen anyone do it with this kind of scope. I'm curious to see what transpires, tbh.

May 29, 2020 at 7:57PM

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Kyle Culver
Video/VFX Editor
89

You know, for a website that supports movies and filmmaking, I think you should be doing your best to actually get people interested in seeing it, not saying dumb things like: 'duuuh it's 3 hours long i don't wanna sit next to a stranger for that long'. That's fucking retarded, what are you 8? Does every single movie need to be ~2 hours? I for one can't wait to sit in that theater for over 3 hours after not being able to do so for so long, and you should too. There's more on the line with this movie than 'being cooped up next to a stranger'.

May 27, 2020 at 1:45AM

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“That’s fucking retarded”. Using the ‘R’ word? Really? What are you, 8? Do you understand how offensive that word is?

May 27, 2020 at 5:45AM

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Geoff Murrin
Retired
104

I can’t imagine the next time I’ll feel comfortable going to a movie theater.

May 27, 2020 at 4:24AM

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I will watch it even if it is 12 hours long. Christopher Nolan makes great movies. I like to watch his films. Sound track of his films are superb.

May 27, 2020 at 4:54AM, Edited May 27, 4:54AM

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If all the pussies want to stay home, I'll have the theater to myself.

May 27, 2020 at 8:19AM

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Dan Earl
115

I live 10 minutes from a huge multiplex in Spain, Kinepolis.They have the largest screens in Europe. I love to see openings of certain films. The rest watch them streaming at my home projector. This one is the one I'd like to see there. I saw Dunkirk and was blown away. And the latest 1917. True cinematic experiences in large screens. However, right now with the summer heat going to the largest screen and air conditioning seems an easy way to get infected with this fucking virus.And I'm very sorry for that. Unless we have a vaccine, going to the movies is very risky. Besides this complex has a lot of restaurants, a gym, bowling, etc. Weekends was packed. I'm so sorry for the many employees who make a living there.This is a tragedy!

May 27, 2020 at 9:24AM

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Javier Diez
Director/Writer
327

I have seen every Nolan film in a theater since Batman Begins and it's very important for me to watch Tenet on the big screen. I think we will be surprised how quickly everything gets back to normal once things open back up. I don't blame anyone for choosing not to go, but I personally will not give up doing the things I love because of fear.

May 27, 2020 at 8:28PM

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They (WB) can and will push the release date depending on the state of the world at the end of July. They won't risk losing a billion dollar payday to make a point. They want to be the first blockbuster back in theaters that people actually watch.

May 29, 2020 at 6:08AM

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I'm not gonna lie, I would totally go see it! But... I'm not gonna risk my health (compromised immune system here...) if I have to sit anywhere near someone else. I would have to buy out all the seats around me to feel comfortable enough to go. Because I know COVID-19 is not gonna ease up anytime soon. If theaters do open before the release, I imagine they will only allow a third of the theater to be sold out in order to have people sat at least 6 feet from one another.

I would love it if they released it for VOD online, or even to purchase so I could still view it in my house with my home theater setup. I don't know what that would look like for WB, but that's what I would like to see in order to fully enjoy the release. And yes, I'll watch all 3 hours and be excited about it, because Nolan wrote and directed, which means every second matters. I bet it won't even feel like 3 hours. There's a good joke in there somewhere...

May 29, 2020 at 7:46PM

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Kyle Culver
Video/VFX Editor
89