‘Tenet,’ Expected to Signal Hollywood’s Return, Is Pushed Back

‘Tenet,’ Expected to Signal Hollywood’s Return, Is Pushed Back

‘Tenet,’ Expected to Signal Hollywood’s Return, Is Pushed Back

‘Tenet,’ Expected to Signal Hollywood’s Return, Is Pushed Back

LOS ANGELES — It’s now on you, “Mulan.”

Warner Bros. on Friday pushed back the release of “Tenet,” a $200 million-plus mind bender from Christopher Nolan that was supposed to arrive in theaters on July 17 and jump-start the pandemic-stricken movie business. Instead, “Tenet” will be released on July 31.

The move means that Disney’s extravagant “Mulan,” directed by Niki Caro, will now mark the return of megawatt Hollywood releases when it comes out on July 24 — unless Disney also decides that the timing isn’t quite right. A Disney spokesman had no immediate comment.

To make up for the absence of “Tenet” on July 17, Warner will rerelease Mr. Nolan’s cerebral thriller “Inception” on that date (almost 10 years to the day from its initial debut). Toby Emmerich, Warner’s movie chairman, said in a statement that the “Inception” screenings will include exclusive footage from “Tenet” as a “count down” to its opening day. He called “Tenet” a global movie of “jaw-dropping size, scope and scale.”

In another schedule change on Friday, Warner moved Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman 1984” out of the summer. The lasso-wielding superheroine will now arrive on Oct. 2 instead of Aug. 14.

After being closed for months by the pandemic, movie theaters around the world are starting to reopen, albeit with limited attendance and heightened safety requirements. But theaters in important markets like New York and Los Angeles may not be open by July 17. Further complicating matters, no one knows how skittish audiences will be about returning to theaters, making big-budget releases all the more important.

The big studios are eager to begin releasing movies again, but none are particularly thrilled by the idea of going first. In recent weeks, Warner, concerned about its “Tenet” investment, was leaning in favor of postponement, while Mr. Nolan, a fervent advocate for preserving the moviegoing experience, was more eager to press ahead. The discussions amounted to a fraught moment for Warner: Mr. Nolan is a proven moneymaker, and the studio wants to keep him happy.

Mr. Nolan’s films for Warner include the “Dark Knight” trilogy and most recently “Dunkirk,” which collected $527 million worldwide in 2017. In March, he wrote in The Washington Post that movie theaters were “the most affordable and democratic of our community gathering places” and urged Congress to include them in the federal bailout. “When this crisis passes, the need for collective human engagement, the need to live and love and laugh and cry together, will be more powerful than ever,” Mr. Nolan wrote.

The plot for “Tenet” has been kept secret, in accordance with Mr. Nolan’s wishes. The film stars John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman,” HBO’s “Ballers”) and Robert Pattinson, best known for the “Twilight” saga.

When the pandemic spread to the United States in March, studios pushed back all of their major releases. “Black Widow” from Disney-Marvel, for instance, moved to Nov. 6 from May 1. Some studios — notably Universal — have started to make some of their stockpile available on premium video-on-demand services. Universal declared that P.V.O.D. results for “Trolls World Tour” were strong enough to prove a new business model, increasing the pressure on theaters.

AMC Theaters, the world’s largest cineplex operator, announced on Tuesday that “almost all” of its locations in the United States and Britain would reopen next month. Over all, theaters in 90 percent of overseas markets will be running again by mid-July, according to the National Association of Theater Owners, a trade organization for movie exhibitors in 98 countries. “Over these last months we have been keeping Warner Bros. closely informed of our work toward reopening our theaters in accordance with governmental health and safety requirements,” the trade organization said in a statement on Friday.

A modestly budgeted thriller, “Unhinged,” starring Russell Crowe, will test the waters when it is released on July 10 by the upstart Solstice Studios.

  • Updated June 12, 2020

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


It is unclear whether people — even while watching movies in well-sanitized theaters with limited capacity — will feel safe from the coronavirus, the spread of which rose to a worldwide high on Sunday, as measured by new cases. As the United States has started to reopen its economy, new hot spots have emerged; Texas, Florida and California all recently reported their highest daily tallies of new virus cases. Mass protests against police brutality have raised the specter of a coronavirus surge in the coming weeks.

“Mulan” could have an easier time turning out crowds, some box office analysts say. Parents are desperate to have something to do with their children, the Disney brand offers an aura of safety and the story is well known. “Tenet,” with its mysterious premise, could be a harder sell.

Restrictions for reopening theaters vary by state. According to California’s state guidance, as of June 12, theaters are urged to limit attendance to 25 percent of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Theater owners are also being encouraged to designate arrival times for patrons, establish specific entryways and exits to theaters and reconfigure seats to ensure six feet of physical distance between attendees. Masks are required for employees who must be within six feet of customers and encouraged for patrons when entering the theaters and at the concession stand. Disposable seat covers are also suggested.

Los Angeles and the Bay Area are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 movie markets. New York City and its immediate suburbs are No. 2.


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