Warner Bros. has announced that it’ll be delaying the release of Tenet — the studio’s mysterious time-manipulating summer blockbuster from director Christopher Nolan — by another two weeks, moving the planned release from July 31st to August 12th as COVID-19 cases continue to spike around the United States.
Warner Bros. is still adamant that that $200 million Tenet will debut in a movie theater, commenting in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that “Warner Bros. is committed to bringing Tenet to audiences in theaters, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it’s time.” It’s a commitment that comes at a time when studios — including Warner Bros. itself — are increasingly turning to video-on-demand and streaming releases for their films in light on the ongoing closure of movie theaters around the country.
Nolan in particular is known for specifically being an advocate of the theatrical experience, and has been one of the biggest advocates for reopening theaters as soon as possible — with Tenet as the film that will herald the return of cinema. As IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond noted back in April, “Chris really would like to be coming out with the film that opens theaters.”
Tenet had already been delayed earlier this summer, moving from its original July 17th release date to July 31st, a decision that The New York Times reports was a source of conflict between Warner Bros. — who favored postponing the film to a more profitable time — and Nolan, who was “more eager to press ahead.” The tug of war between the two factions (and Warner Bros. desire to keep Nolan, a lucrative partner, happy) may explain the repeated short delays for the film, instead of a more drastic release date shift, as we’ve seen for most of the other summer 2020 blockbusters.
The new Tenet release date is also in the middle of the week, with Warner Bros. noting that it’s “not treating this as a traditional movie release.” The company also said that it plans to “allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”
With the shift of Tenet to August, all eyes are on Disney’s Mulan, which is currently scheduled for a release of July 24th, which would make it the first summer blockbuster to hit theaters — unless Disney moves the release date again.