Asking people to stay home didn’t work, reminding them that simply wearing a mask can significantly reduce the spread of the virus didn’t work, and the looming threat of a second full-on lockdown doesn’t seem to be working, but maybe letting everyone know that we’ll never ever get to see Christopher Nolan’s Tenet if we don’t curb the goddamn coronavirus will get people to actually give a damn about protecting their lives and the lives of others? More than anything, Tenet has become a good metric for how the United States is handling the coronavirus, sort of like the doomsday clock but we all get to see what should be a fun movie once it reaches midnight, with the still-mysterious movie getting bumped multiple times as it became clear that theaters were not going to be ready to reopen by the time Nolan and Warner Bros. wanted to get the movie out there.
Just last week, we heard that it wasn’t looking good for Tenet to meet its August 12 release date due to the complete lack of anyone doing anything about the coronavirus, and now—much to nobody’s surprise—it has now been delayed indefinitely. Actually, that’s a little surprising, since every other delay involved a specific and extremely optimistic number of weeks, but after doing that multiple times, the studio has evidently realized that things might not actually be any better any time soon. In a statement given to Variety, Warner Bros. notes that it is still planning to release Tenet in 2020 at some point, but it also hints that the release might happen earlier outside of the United States. Warner Bros. chairman basically said as much by explaining that Tenet is not being treated “like a traditional global day-and-date release” and that its “upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that.”
The implication there is that it should at least not be taken as a given that Tenet will be released at the same time here as it is everywhere else, with Variety pointing out that Nolan movies tend to make more than half of their box office money at overseas theaters, so it might be in Warner Bros. best interest to get some Tenet money in the bank while it waits for America to get its act together. There’s another catch with that, though, as Variety says Chinese exhibitors are barred from screening films that over two hours long, which Tenet naturally is, so that would limit the amount of overseas money it can make anyway (assuming it doesn’t get an exception).