Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated Tenet finally arrived in theaters in North America last weekend, which marked one of the first major blockbusters to get a wide release since the shutdown in March. It has been hard to know what to make of the box office numbers as the movie is facing unprecedented circumstances in the marketplace. While that may still be true, it turns out the opening weekend numbers were far less than previously thought, which could be bad news for Warner Bros. moving forward.

It had been widely reported that Tenet earned $20.2 million during its domestic box office opening. That is true, however, that does not mean that is what it made purely during its opening weekend. A new report reveals that the number includes Canada's initial Wednesday to Sunday gross, limited showings of the movie between August 30 and September 2, as well as the full day on Thursday. Plus, it was a holiday weekend with Labor Day on Mondy. With that, the pure, opening weekend number is said to be closer to $10 million, roughly half of the initially reported figure.

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This doesn't necessarily take anything away from Tenet it did earn just over $20 million in North America by the time those figures were reported. But many looked at the number and expected that was almost entirely from its opening weekend. It wasn't. Therein lies the issue. Christopher Nolan's high-concept, time-bending thriller comes with a production budget said to be in the $200 million range. Plus, Nolan has a unique deal with the studio worked out where he takes home a large chunk of the box office earnings. All told, counting what it made overseas, Tenet has earned over $152 million globally so far. While that is the most a movie has made in months, it still has a very long way to go before being able to turn a profit.

But few big movies are coming down the pipeline to offer direct competition. Not only that, but major markets such as New York and Los Angeles were absent from the opening weekend. Tenet could bring in a lot in those markets as they open. Warner Bros. expects the movie will have much longer legs, earning money for weeks to come, as opposed to dropping off the map in a few weeks, as is often the case with major blockbusters when things are operating normally. Whether or not that will be enough to clear the huge gap needed to make Tenet a hit remains to be seen.

Warner Bros., and other studios, have big decisions to make when it comes to whatever big movies remain on the calendar for 2020. As much as they need box office dollars, it doesn't help the studio if they ultimately lose money on a major blockbuster that was expected to be a big earner. That could play into Warner Bros.' decision to possibly delay Wonder Woman 1984 again, which is expected to happen. Disney might also opt to move Black Widow out of November. This news comes to us via IndieWire.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott