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Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has debuted overseas after multiple delays, and even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it performed unexpectedly well.

The film, which is the first big Hollywood blockbuster to be released since the COVID-19 pandemic began, took in $53 million over the weekend as it opened in 41 international markets, including the United Kingdom, France, and Korea, Variety reports.

This was a “surprisingly robust” opening, Variety wrote, while The Hollywood Reporter described the “better-than-expected” debut as a “major win for the moviegoing experience in the COVID-19 era,” and Deadline hailed it as a “triumph.” Granted, Forbes wrote that a $53 million overseas opening for Tenet would be considered “somewhat disappointing” under normal circumstances, but notes that in light of the pandemic, it’s a “very solid start.” Some estimates had previously suggested Tenet‘s overseas opening would come in closer to $25 million.

Warner Bros. Pictures Group chair Toby Emmerich said “we are off to a fantastic start internationally and couldn’t be more pleased,” though he went on to note that “we know we’re running a marathon, not a sprint,” per Variety. Tenet was previously intended to open in July, but it was repeatedly delayed until finally settling on opening overseas in late August.

But all eyes are now on the film’s debut in the United States, which it will be making this weekend without actually being able to play in some states like New York where theaters haven’t been permitted to reopen. The film’s performance will be the biggest indicator so far of whether audiences in America, where tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases continue to be reported every day, will feel safe going back to the movies. Brendan Morrow

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