Tenet, the next big budget movie from Hollywood director Christopher Nolan, has seen its release date pushed back multiple times as the Coronavirus continues to keep many cinemas shut around the globe – most notably in the lucrative US market where the pandemic continues to show little signs of slowing down.
Consequently, the Warner Bros movie had been tipped by some analysts to forego a cinema release and launch straight onto WarnerMedia-owned SVoD platform HBO Max – much like Artemis Fowl landing straight on Disney+ earlier this year.
Tenet has much to recoup, with a production budget alone in excess of $200 million, so solely hedging its bets on a streaming release would seem a risky business, but now John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, has thwarted the rumours.
“Is [a streaming premiere] going to happen with a movie like Tenet or something like Wonder Woman?” Stankey said. “I’d be very surprised if that would be the case. In fact, I can assure you with Tenet, that’s not going to be the case.”
Stankey continued: “[Tenet is] a movie, an experience, that should be seen in theatres. It was engineered to be that way. As a result of that, it needs to show up that way. Certainly, Christopher would like it to be that way. That’s how he wants that piece of work that he’s done to be seen by moviegoers and that’s why it’s going to be something that shows up in a theatre.”
Stankey did however say thought would continue to be given to HBO Max premieres for content not in the same ‘blockbuster realm’ as Tenet.
“The longer this [pandemic] goes on, there’s going to be some content on the margins that we’re going to look at and say it may be better served to be distributed in another construct or a different construct. I love that we have that option now. I love the reality that we’ve been able to build a platform where we can get leverage and capabilities out of any content we build, theatrical or otherwise.”
Latest reports are that European cinemas have been told to prepare for Tenet to be released at the end of August – fuelling rumours that the movie could have a staggered release around the globe.
A handful of Odeon and independent cinemas have already reopened in the UK, whilst all 99 Cineworld theatres are scheduled to resume business on July 31st.