Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has taken more than $50m at the box office on its opening weekend as movie fans shrugged off the coronavirus pandemic, donned face masks and headed back to big screens.
British movie fans led the way with a $7.1m (£5.4m) UK box office take for Tenet, the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in cinemas since the lockdown in March. It is the biggest box office take for a film in the UK in seven months, since Sam Mendes’s 1917 in January.
Tenet has been viewed as a litmus test of whether fans are ready to return to movie theatres en masse, as the UK cinema industry aims to salvage something from a year destined to be the worst at the box office in three decades. An enthusiastic, mask-wearing Tom Cruise was among the fans to catch a screening of Tenet in London.
“We are off to a fantastic start internationally and couldn’t be more pleased,” said Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Warner Bros. “Given the unprecedented circumstances of this global release, we know we are running a marathon, not a sprint, and look forward to long playability for this film globally for many weeks to come.”
After pushing back the global release of Tenet multiple times because the pandemic was continuing to run rampant in the US – the world’s biggest movie market by some distance – Warner Bros took the unprecedented step of launching internationally first.
Given the reception the film has received, taking $53m internationally and beating analysts’ expectations, hopes are high that it will replicate that performance when it launches in major markets including the US and China at the weekend.
“If this weekend’s stellar box office performance by Tenet offers any indication, the power of one film to jumpstart the industry has been made manifest,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst at Comscore.
With a schedule devoid of fresh Hollywood blockbusters, cinema owners have had to fall back on low-grossing classics and old hits, with the original Jurassic Park making a return to the top 10 during lockdown.
The box office surge, which follows paltry weekly takes of less than £1m across all films shown in the UK and Ireland since cinemas reopened in July, bodes well for upcoming releases including James Bond: No Time To Die.