Christopher Nolan’s blockchain doesn’t need New York or Los Angeles to open.
There’s no shortage of social media broadcasting, but Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has plenty of reasons to hold its domestic opening on September 3. Awarded: If Warner Bros. had to wait for New York and Los Angeles to open, that date would be highly unlikely. Those regions are traditionally so important that many films are initially opened in these two cities only, but with “Tenet” we can reasonably expect the reverse: It will open almost anywhere except in those major metropolitan areas.
As Warner Bros. announced, “Tenet” will show in “selected” cities. Not all. They know they won’t initially play anywhere, including the top two markets in the country. When COVID-19 is given, all of this is subject to change – but today the asterisk should follow any long-term planning. Nolan’s film is scheduled to open in 50 territories between 26 and 28 August, including Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Korea and Australia; Other big countries like Russia and Japan follow shortly after. China also approved the film for release, albeit without a date.
Theaters already operate in many of these countries; in the United States today, 45 states allow indoor theaters to operate (with safety precautions) in all or most venues. Due to a lack of a new product, many still have to do so. To preclude the opening of September 3, governments will have to close them – and this is much harder to do than delaying permission to open.
We have spoken to sources of exhibition in some more risky regions who doubt whether they will make the date, but it is clear that most of the nation’s cinemas will open as allowed. They are not irresponsible people, but the survival of their companies depends on it. And they will play “Tenet.”
Most of the U.S. population now has indoor theaters where you see “Tenet” on Sept. 3, and most of those have drive-in theaters as backup. Even in COVID-19 hotspots such as Atlanta and Houston, indoor theaters are open; areas that prohibit theater openings today may change.
Of the top three domestic circuits, Cinemark has already opened some venues. Regal’s website delivers its target Aug. 21, and AMC said it expects it to open by the end of August for many theaters, if not sooner. Wide releases are set to begin Aug. 21 with “Unhinged” (Solstiz), “Antebellum” (Lionsgate), “Words on the Bathroom Walls” (Street Attractions), and a reissue of ‘”Start” (Warner Bros.). All are expected to play with major market support and wide release – business as usual. Expect other movies to be available.
That’s three weeks from now. Making this date would be the first step in releasing “Tenet” 13 days later, in September 3. More theaters can expect, using that film to reopen September 3. Regions with restrictions they will push hard for permission, and we should expect reports of first practices to influence decisions. The hope is that the two weeks leading up to “Tenet” will create momentum going forward (well: one of the reasons overseas territories get the first film).
We have compiled an exhaustive list of the rules for opening the theater now in force; our sources include extensive research conducted by the National Association of Theater Owners in addition to an external audit. In addition, the amounts reported by theaters opened last weekend showed domestic theaters operating in more than 40 states.
Based on these data, Arizona, California, New Jersey and New York only face indoor theater closure of the state. Arizona has a reopening date of August 9; the others have no data. Some urban areas such as Seattle and Detroit also do not have approval.
Many states have capacity limitations. Some range from 25 percent to 66 percent, per audience; others have a specific maximum, regardless of the size of the auditorium. Various rules of social breakdown are almost everywhere.
Tell them all, even if all of California and New York can’t be opened and a few other areas in addition, more than 80 percent of the population still has the potential to see “Tenet” in an indoor theater. Not that all filmegers in these numbers will attend; some undetermined part of the audience – most likely substantial – will not return even if it is hailed as the greatest film ever made.
Again: This is all as things stand now. That’s the scrub. The last six months show that the solid forecast is in vain. But so you’re sure it won’t happen.
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