Photo: Warner Bros.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Grossing nearly $58 million in North America, and over $363 million worldwide, Nolan’s latest Warner Bros. feature centers on the Protagonist (John David Washington), a secret agent who learns to manipulate time, in order to prevent an attack from the future that would destroy his present world.

Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Martin Donovan, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh also star.

At the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25, Tenet will contend for two Oscars, including Best Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Production Design.

Tenet on HBO Max: Launch Date

Photo: Warner Bros.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Tenet will launch “on HBO via HBO Max” on May 1, the streamers announced today.

The news reflects yet another chapter for the sci-fi thriller, which was originally scheduled for theatrical release in July of 2020, prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing its release date shift repeatedly, after theaters across the world shuttered, Tenet eventually debuted in 70 countries, including Canada, France, Japan and the U.K., in August. The Christopher Nolan blockbuster would first open in select U.S. cities on September 3.

Tenet (2020) Movie

Tenet is a 2020 science fiction action-thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who produced it with Emma Thomas. A co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, it stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. The film follows a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future that threatens to annihilate the present world.

Nolan took more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet's central ideas for over a decade. Pre-production began in late 2018, casting took place in March 2019, and principal photography lasted six months, from May to November, in Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot on 70 mm and IMAX. Scenes of time manipulation were filmed both backwards and forwards. Over one hundred vessels and thousands of extras were used.

Delayed three times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenet was released in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2020, and United States on September 3, 2020, in IMAX, 35 mm, and 70 mm. It was the first Hollywood tent-pole to open in theaters after the pandemic shutdown, and grossed $363 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2020. However, it failed to break even due to the limited theatrical play during the COVID-19 pandemic when accounting for its high production and marketing budget. The film received generally favorable reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes saying it had "all the cerebral spectacle audiences expect from a Christopher Nolan production". The film received nominations for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Christopher Nolan called HBO Max the ‘worst streaming service’

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

On Dec. 3, 2020, Warner Bros. Pictures announced a hybrid-release model for its slate of 2021 films. With the future of cinemas up in the airs because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Warner Bros. movies will release on HBO Max the same day they come out in theaters. Titles including The Matrix 4, Dune, In the Heights, and Tom & Jerry fall under this new deal.

It was an unprecedented move that shocked many in the film industry. Director Christopher Nolan, who has worked closely with Warner Bros. for nearly 20 years, spoke out against the company's decision.

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” said Nolan in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Dec. 7. “Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t even understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

While Nolan is the most outspoken critic, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that other directors and actors with films under Warner Media were not pleased with this decision.

Tenet's Christopher Nolan was a box office success

The science fiction-thriller has grossed $347 million around the globe since its release in September, much less than that earned by most of Nolan's films, including Inception ($826 million), Interstellar ($677 million), and the second two entries in his Dark Knight trilogy, both of which grossed in excess of a billion dollars. Tenet made just $53 million in the U.S., which, under normal circumstances, would be regarded as a catastrophic return on Warner Bros.' unconfirmed but presumably hefty investment. On the other hand, Nolan's repeatedly delayed film was released during the pandemic at a time when many Americans did not want to take the risk of visiting a cinema and several major markets, including Los Angeles and New York, were not open for business at all.

Nolan himself has now weighed in on the subject, describing himself as "thrilled" by the film's box office performance in an interview with the Los Angeles Times to promote author Tom Shone's book The Nolan Variations: The Movies, Marvels, and Mysteries of Christopher Nolan.

"Warner Bros. released Tenet, and I’m thrilled that it has made almost $350 million," says the director. "But I am worried that the studios are drawing the wrong conclusions from our release — that rather than looking at where the film has worked well and how that can provide them with much needed revenue, they’re looking at where it hasn’t lived up to pre-COVID expectations and will start using that as an excuse to make exhibition take all the losses from the pandemic instead of getting in the game and adapting — or rebuilding our business, in other words."

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