Movies | July 21, 2020 8:30 am

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” Release Date Delayed Again

August 12 is now out as a release date

"Tenet" still
A scene from "Tenet."
Warner Bros.

If you’d hoped from the deepest fabric of your being that you’d be sitting down in your local movie theater to see Christopher Nolan’s new film Tenet on August 12, we have some bad news for you. Warner Bros. has announced that, for the third time, Tenet‘s release date is being pushed back. So far, no new release date has been announced. That’s because, based on Pamela McClintock’s report at The Hollywood Reporter, the future of Tenet might not involve one global release date but would instead vary depending on the safety level of various countries and regions.

The entire situation resembles the old theoretical question about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object — except that here, there’s a third factor also in the mix. The first factor is Warner Bros.’s desire to have a global release date for the film. This is also a practical matter: inevitably, a staggered global release date would also involve pirated versions of Tenet circulating online.

Factor number two is the coronavirus, which makes large gatherings in enclosed spaces — like, say, a movie theater — unsafe. And the coronavirus has had an impact on moviegoing in countries whose theaters have opened back up. Recently, questions emerged about whether or not Tenet would be too long to play in Chinese theaters.

Other high-profile films released since the pandemic began — including The King of Staten IslandEurovision Song Contest and Greyhound — have bypassed theaters and headed directly to either VOD or a streaming service. Given Christopher Nolan’s professed love of movie theaters — his previous film Dunkirk was released in numerous theatrical formats, and he wrote an op-ed early on in the pandemic about the importance of keeping theaters alive — this seems unlikely.

That said, it also seems less unlikely than it did a month ago. In an article published last week on IndieWire, Tom Brueggemann makes the case for why a hybrid theatrical and VOD release (or even debuting the film on HBO Max) would make the most sense for both the film and Warner Bros. And at The Verge, Chaim Gartenberg argues that a home release of Tenet is, ultimately, both the safest and most potentially transformative option:

In an immediate sense, a streaming release could make nearly everyone happy. Fans could see Tenet immediately and from the safety of their own homes. Warner Bros. would see a quicker return on its investment. I would argue that even Nolan would get what he wants — a chance to change the face of cinema — in a way that doesn’t put people at risk.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. will announce its revised release plan for Tenet in the next few days. With it will come the inevitable question: is this the one that will stick?

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.