Tenet became the only major movie to release in theaters in the middle of lockdowns earlier this year. Despite being the latest offering from star director Christopher Nolan, with a cast of popular new actors, the film was unable to make much of a dent at the box office and directly led to Warner Bros. deciding to release the rest of their upcoming movies online on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters. In an interview with The Washington Post, Nolan revealed that he was not responsible for Tenet's theatrical release. Rather, it was the studio that made the call.
"The studio made the decision to release the film in the summer in parts of the world where it was safe to open the film because of the response to the pandemic in those individual countries. And I think they made a good decision. . . . A lot of people got to see the film. A lot of people went back to work and all the rest and were able to safely do that. This country is a different story. But Hollywood filmmaking is a global business. It's not an American-only business. And I think it's very important for people to look beyond where they are sitting in the world and look at what's going on in the rest of the world as well, and be mindful of that."
Despite having worked with Warner for most of his Hollywood career, Christopher Nolan was the first major filmmaker to publicly blast the studio for their new release strategy. Many are speculating whether Nolan's heated words means he will no longer work with Warner on new films. For his part, the filmmaker is firm in his stance that deciding to release the latest films online without holding a dialog with their creative partners first was the wrong move by WarnerMedia.
"The studio needed to collaborate with the filmmakers on what was going to happen. They didn't speak to the filmmakers, they didn't speak to the theater chains. They didn't speak to the production partners on the films. That was the reason I was speaking up. As far as the specific strategy of what you would be doing over the entirety of next year, I don't know why anyone would be making predictions through to December of 2021 on what they should or shouldn't be doing with the business. That seems a long way out in a fast-changing, dynamic situation."
Despite a growing chorus of dissent, Warner is currently holding fast to its decision to release its films simultaneously on HBO Max and in movie theaters. For his part, Nolan is glad his movie was able to avoid such a fate and have a proper theatrical release, even if doing so resulted in a highly-constrained box-office run and lower earnings.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel, Clémence Poésy, Denzil Smith, and Michael Caine. This news first appeared at washingtonpost.com.