Every movie used to be released first in New York City. One of the many benefits of paying astronomical rents in America’s largest city was that you got to see not only independent/art-house films first, but also major blockbusters on occasion.
Much of that started to change about a year ago. Since last March, there’s been an out-of-control pandemic — which is still going on, mind you — and movie theaters all over town have been shuttered. Most (but not all) of them are reopening this Friday, which means New Yorkers can get Tenet ahead of the rest of the country.
It was expected to be blockbuster multiplex movies’ big return when Christopher Nolan’s new head-scratcher premiered in late August. That wasn’t the case. The theaters that were open throughout the country were only able to handle a small number of people. Even then, they had difficulty attracting moviegoers who were afraid of contracting a highly infectious disease, and the film limped to a meager $57.9 million, despite the fact that it might have been another freak Nolan money-gobbler in another timeline. (It also only made $363.1 million worldwide, which isn’t ideal given its rumored price tag of about $200 million.)
Will Tenet’s late release in New York City be enough to save it? What are the chances? Theaters in New York City are still half-full, and a sizable portion of the city’s population is undoubtedly still wary of entering indoor public spaces, particularly in light of the COVID-19 vaccine’s weak rollout.
They might also be concerned about infecting not only other patrons but also theater workers, who were called back on short notice. But if Tenet is held in theaters for a few months, if not a year or two, it may be able to make the kind of money that Christopher Nolan has become accustomed to.