'Tenet' tests American appetite for coronavirus movie-going

LOS ANGELES, Sept 3- Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” finally arrives in U.S. movie theaters this weekend, hoping to revive movie going after a pandemic-induced closure of indoor theaters and a dearth of new content. Hollywood breathed a sigh of relief last weekend when “Tenet” brought in a solid $53.6 million in Europe and other markets, suggesting that…

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Christopher Nolan’s thriller”Tenet” finally arrives in U.S. movie theaters this weekend,hoping to revive movie going after a pandemic-induced closure ofindoor theaters and a dearth of new content.

Hollywood breathed a sigh of relief last weekend when”Tenet” brought in a solid $53.6 million in Europe and othermarkets, suggesting that audiences are hungry for new contentand prepared to put up with social distancing and masks to seethem on big indoor screens.

Now the industry is waiting to see if Americans are equallyas keen. The Warner Bros. movie, starring John DavidWashington and costing a reported $200 million to make, will bethe first big budget release from a Hollywood studio since thecoronavirus shuttered theaters in March.

The long wait “has elevated this film to the status of beingvery important symbolically, culturally and financially. Itrepresents a turning point for the theatrical business which hasbeen sidelined for five months,” said Paul Dergarabedian, seniormedia analyst at Comscore.

Although movie theaters in New York City and Los Angeles -the country’s biggest markets – remain closed, more than half ofthe nation’s indoor theaters are expected to be open althoughcapacity will be limited to 50%.

AMC Entertainment, America’s biggest movie chain,said it was opening another 140 locations this weekend to put atotal of 70% of its theaters back in operation.

China, which is challenging the United States as the world’sbiggest movie market, is also rolling out “Tenet” this weekend.It’s the Asian nation’s first release for a major new Hollywoodtitle since January.

Dergarabedian said U.S. opening weekend box-officeexpectations for “Tenet” were fluctuating wildly between $15million and $30 million. But the film won’t be judged on itsfirst few days.

“We know we’re running a marathon, not a sprint, and lookforward to long playability for this film,” Toby Emmerich,Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman, said in a statementwelcoming last weekend’s results.

“Tenet” has little competition. The 2013 baseball film “42”is getting a limited re-release as a tribute to its starChadwick Boseman, who died last week, but Russell Crowe thriller”Unhinged,” young adult movie “The New Mutants” and comedy “Bill& Ted Face the Music” were released in late August.

It won’t be until October that audiences get a new superheromovie, with “Wonder Woman 1984.”(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Richard Pullin)

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