Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: A flaw emerges in Warner Bros.' long-term Tenet plan

Tenet
Tenet
Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon, Warner Bros.

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to find another way to say that people are still going to movie theaters to see Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (and other things) even though we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and you really shouldn’t be risking your life and the lives of others just to see—at least according to A.V. Club Film Editor A.A. Dowd—what sounds like an unnecessarily confusing and noisy entry in the Nolan canon. Of course, even if Tenet were the second coming of The Dark Knight or Inception, it still wouldn’t be a good idea for most people in this stupid country to go to a movie theater right now, but that apparently doesn’t matter because people are still buying tickets to see The New Mutants and Unhinged and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run (none of which get the automatic prestige that even a lesser Nolan film gets, which is not a pun on The Prestige because that movie is rad).

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Anywayyyy, there actually is something interesting to talk about with this weekend’s box office numbers, so let’s get those out of the way: Tenet is still on top, obviously, with $4.7 million (for a total of $36.1). The New Mutants is still in second, obviously, with $1.6 million (total of $17.7). After that we have a rare newcomer: The Jim Caviezel-starring right-wing action thriller Infidel, produced by documentary(?) filmmaker(?) and Triple-F recipient Dinesh D’Souza. With a description like that, it’s gotta be good, right? Well, it made $1.5 million, which is more than zero. After that is Unhinged at $1.3 million (a respectable total of $15.7) and The SpongeBob Movie with $210,000 (a less respectable total of $4 million). Everything after that made under $200,000, which is good, but we’re going to start repeating ourselves if we have to explain why that’s good.

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So, as for the interesting thing, this is Tenet’s third week on the charts and third week at the top of the charts, which—as we’ve noted a few times now—is essentially Warner Bros.’ plan for the movie. It might not make a huge box office numbers all at once, but it will gradually and consistently make money as more theaters around the country reopen (especially since every other studio is justifiably wary of launching big new movies right now). However, this week seems to point toward a problem with that plan: Tenet’s numbers are down quite a bit, and it has only expanded to an additional 120 theaters, so its expansion isn’t making up for the natural decrease in ticket sales. It seems reasonable to assume that anyone who braves the outdoors to see Tenet one time probably isn’t going to do it twice, especially if they get… you know… so more theaters have to reopen or else the market for Tenet is just going to dry up. Why, it’s almost like pushing for things like movie theaters to reopen wasn’t the best idea and movie studios are right to be very cautious about embracing the return to normalcy.

For a more detailed analysis of this weekend’s box office numbers, head over to Box Office Mojo.

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