Will “Tenet” “reopen the box office,” just in time for Labor Day?

Christopher Nolan’s expected summer blockbuster has been delayed, repeatedly, all summer long thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

Even opening it Labor Day seems like a huge gamble, considering its $225 million budget. With 2800 screens showing it, all of them at 25-50% maximum allowed capacity, and much of the country understandably reluctant to sit for two and a half hours in a mask full of other customers who might not be as healthy or careful as they are, well…

In Florida, where I live, the Banana Republicans running the state have been actively suppressing virus testing and reporting, pretty much from the beginning. As over 1,000 Americans are dying every day from this, the risk-benefits debate going on with filmgoers presents quite the quandary.

Reviews have been good. It opened pretty big overseas, over $50 million.

But it’s not Christopher Nolan’s best film, John David Washington is still more “Denzel’s kid” than name-brand movie star, and Robert Pattinson, “The Batman” who has tested positive for COVID himself, aren’t the draw here.

Nolan is.

The Labor Day weekend record is $30 million or so, which 2007’s “Halloween” reboot earned.

I figure $20 million over three days might be the ceiling, based on the one or two arms this picture has tied behind its back. Theater hours are shorter, fewer shows per day, and the movie’s 2.5 hours long and they can’t sell all the tickets.

But Nolan’s devotees could give that record a run for its money. A $10,000 per screen average for three days would get it close to the record. We’ll know Sunday.

Will “Mulan” draw more subscribers to Disney+, where that potential summer blockbuster landed? I don’t know about that, either. It doesn’t have the same “not regular Disney customers” noise that “Hamilton” did. But it could goose the Mouse’s bottom line. Considering its $200 million budget, a lot of subscriptions, and many a $29.99 “stream it first” bonus payment will have to be made for it to go into the black.

 

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