Last Monday, when we looked at the weekend’s box office numbers, we noted that Warner Bros.’ long-term plan for Tenet—to keep it in theaters for as long as possible and make a little bit of money for a long time rather than a lot of money at once, like normal movies did in the before-times—was starting to show some cracks. Tenet was still making more money than the competition, but the rate at which it was making money had started to decline due to the fact that theaters in major cities in the U.S. still haven’t reopened. Without expanding its rollout, which it can’t do because the coronavirus pandemic still isn’t getting any better, Tenet is basically just playing to the same people in the same places. That means, unless things in this country quickly start to magically improve (or people decide to start unnecessarily risking their lives by going to the theater multiple times), Tenet—and the rest of the movies trying a theatrical run—can only make so much money.
The box office is a hard thing to predict, though. Some sure-fire hits land with the painful wet slap of a bellyflop, and sometimes Sonic The Hedgehog makes $300 million worldwide. Then again, sometimes it’s not so hard, and if you’ve been keeping up with the box office reports since we started doing this feature again, you probably won’t be surprised at all when we say that this was one of those predictable weeks. Tenet is still wearing the crown, but as with last week, its throne has continued to crumble. It made $3.4 million, down from nearly $5 million last week, but the real rough part (for Warner Bros.) is that it played at 80 fewer theaters. Tenet has only made $41 million domestically over four weeks, which is still less than Dunkirk made in its opening weekend, so things aren’t looking especially great. Why, it’s almost like the plan to stubbornly release Tenet in theaters in the middle of a global pandemic that the U.S. doesn’t especially give a shit about containing was a bad idea!
Next up is—everybody now!—The New Mutants, which made $1.1 million, bringing it to a total of $19 million over five weeks, followed by Unhinged at $1 million on the dot (for a total of $17 million, suggesting that a lower-budget thriller could pull off the Tenet plan even if Tenet itself can’t). In fourth place, the box office went all the way back to 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back, which added another $900,000 to the $550 million or so it made 40 years ago (try to ignore the icy claw of Death as she taps on your shoulder and offers a haunting reminder that you’re old). After Star Wars is Infidel, the right-wing action movie produced by Dinesh D’Souza, which made only $745,000 despite expanding to 161 additional theaters.
Elsewhere on the list, newcomers Shortcut, The Last Shift, and Kajillionaire made $305,000, $235,000, and $215,000 (respectively), while rereleases of Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic On The Basis Of Sex and documentary RBG made $55,000 and $34,000 (respectively) from people who, apparently, wanted to honor the life of an iconic, groundbreaking woman but didn’t care so much about contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus. RBG is on Hulu and On The Basis Of Sex is on Showtime. You don’t need to leave the house to see either one.
For more extensive analysis of this weekend’s box office numbers, head over to Box Office Mojo.