Time was New York City got every movie first. If you paid the astronomical rents in America’s largest city, one of many trade-offs was you got to see not only independent/art-house titles before everyone else, but occasionally even big blockbusters as well. That all changed about a year ago. There’s been a sometimes out-of-control pandemic since last March — which is still not over, mind you — and movie theaters have been shuttered across town ever since. Most (but not all) of them are re-opening this Friday, and that means New Yorkers are getting Tenet after just about everyone else.
When the latest headscratcher from Christopher Nolan opened in late August, it was supposed to be blockbuster multiplex movies’ big comeback. It wasn’t. The theaters that were open across the nation were operating at limited capacity. Even then they had trouble attracting moviegoers, who were afraid to contracting a highly contagious disease, and the movie — which, in another timeline, could have been another freak Nolan money-gobbler — limped to a mere $57.9 million. (It “only” managed $363.1 million globally, too, which isn’t great considering its pricetag is allegedly somewhere around $200 mil.)
Will Tenet’s belated New York City release save it? Who knows? Theaters in NYC are only operating at 25% capacity, and a good chunk of the town’s denizens are surely still wary of going into indoor public spaces, especially considering the poor roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine. They could also be worried about infecting not only other patrons but also theater employees, who were called back into work with under two weeks’ notice. But perhaps if Tenet is kept in theaters for months, if not a year or two, then maybe it’ll turn the kind of profit to which Christopher Nolan has grown accustomed.