What a year for movie lovers. We had a lot we were looking forward to this year from Marvel, DC, and otherwise that we were expecting to see on the big screen. All that came to a crashing halt in March when the pandemic began, and gave birth to an uncertain time for the movie theater industry. While many studios opted to release films straight to homes, many held off in the hopes that we would return to normal sooner than later. But one studio and director took the risk of releasing a highly anticipated film, hoping to see some fans return to the theaters in a whole new way.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet opened in theaters in August, and with the few theaters that were open, at very low capacities, the movie has made almost $350 million so far. While this number comes nowhere near the over $2 billion of last year’s Avengers: Endgame, or even Nolan’s previous high-grossing films like Dunkirk, The Dark Knight Rises, or Inception, Nolan believes this is a fair number given the circumstances.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Nolan talked about the expectations for films right now, and the approach he believes should be taken moving forward:
Well, it’s a difficult question to speak to. If you’re talking about the acceleration of existing trends, that’s something I started reading right at the beginning of the pandemic. And it ignores the reality that 2019 was the biggest year for theatrical films in history. They’d made the most money. The admissions were huge. So to me, it’s much more about: What’s the new reality we’re living in?
Warner Bros. released “Tenet,” and I’m thrilled that it has made almost $350 million. But I am worried that the studios are drawing the wrong conclusions from our release — that rather than looking at where the film has worked well and how that can provide them with much needed revenue, they’re looking at where it hasn’t lived up to pre-COVID expectations and will start using that as an excuse to make exhibition take all the losses from the pandemic instead of getting in the game and adapting — or rebuilding our business, in other words.
It’s good to see that Nolan is more laid back about the revenue of the film than the studios. He realizes that we have to reset our expectations when things are out of the ordinary. He went on to add his take on the future of moviegoing:
Long term, moviegoing is a part of life, like restaurants and everything else. But right now, everybody has to adapt to a new reality.
I agree. I can’t imagine a world where we don’t have movie theaters anymore. There are just some movies that need to be seen on the big screen, and some people, like the GeekTyrant crew, who will always want to go see them.