“Tenet” announced Wednesday that it has passed government approvals for a theatrical release in China, an indication that an official release date is now on the horizon.
The film released a poster in Chinese, trading the English slogan “time runs out” for a bugle call back to theaters that roughly translates to “every second counts; invade theaters.
Chinese cinemas reopened in areas at low risk of COVID-19 on July 20, earning $ 12.6 million on their opening weekend. Currently, around 44% of its theaters are back in business, but have had to operate at just 30% of capacity to allow social distancing, as well as to reduce their total number of screenings to half of their usual number.
Aditionellement, reopening guidelines issued by the National Film Bureau call for theaters not to show films longer than two hours – which could pose problems for “Tenet,” which runs two hours and 31 minutes.
This directive was quickly contradicted, however, by the subsequent approval by Chinese authorities of many films over two hours long for theatrical release across the country. These include Nolan’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Interstellar” – currently scheduled for a theatrical rerun from August 2 – as well as local blockbusters already in play like “Operation Red Sea”.
Until the directive is more formally lifted, it appears that cinemas in different regions with different levels of COVID-19 threat have been given varying leeway, or at least have been variously willing to hang in there. and to program longer films.
The eight “Harry Potter” films are over two hours long, but they are all currently being screened as part of the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Yet at least two Beijing cinemas said in private discussions posted to social media on Wednesday that due to the confusion, they currently dare not schedule approved and available titles longer than 120 minutes – even the patriotic blockbuster. “Wolf Warrior 2”, which runs 123 minutes.
Elsewhere in China, however, the rerun of that film has already grossed $ 1.1 million since theaters reopened on Monday.
“Tenet” had to postpone its release several times due to COVID-19 before Warner Brothers decided this week of the unconventional plan to make its international debut before it hits North America.
It is now ready to open in around 70 countries abroad starting August 26, including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia. It will then premiere in select US cities over Labor Day weekend starting September 3.
China is by far the most important foreign market for films from director Christopher Nolan of “Tenet”.
The Chinese box office for almost every movie he has made as a director or executive producer has drastically reduced revenues from other territories. The only exceptions are “Dunkirk” and “The Dark Knight Rises”, for which China was the second largest market in the world behind the United Kingdom, and “Batman Begins”, which hit the Middle Kingdom in 2005, when its box -office was still relatively nascent.
Among the films directed by Nolan, “Dunkirk” grossed $ 51 million in China in 2017, while “Interstellar” grossed $ 122 million there in 2014. The “Dark Knight Rises” grossed $ 52.8 million in 2012 and “Inception” 68.4 million dollars in 2010.
The executive films produced by Nolan also enjoyed strong screenings in the country. They include “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with $ 96 million, “Justice League” with $ 106 million, “Transcendence” with $ 20 million and “Man of Steel” with $ 63 million.