The first big blockbuster of the COVID era, Tenet, made $71 million ($US53 million) in its official opening weekend around the world.
Australian box office totals were not yet available at the time of publication.
Australians were among the first audiences to see director Christopher Nolan’s anticipated blockbuster.
With the exception of Victoria, cinemas were open and operating across the country, anxious executives looking to Tenet as the spark for a return to theatres after mandated shutdowns during the pandemic.
Given the pandemic, there is no yardstick against which to adequately measure Tenet’s opening performance, Nolan’s most recent film, Dunkirk, opened at $US100 million in 2017.
With social distancing measures in place including capped capacity and heightened expectations placed on the film, cinemas were running few non-Tenet sessions, instead putting the blockbuster on multiple screens at the same time. George St cinemas in Sydney had 38 sessions in the first day of previews.
The physics-defying movie stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh.
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Australia and New Zealand were among the very few markets to have had preview sessions ahead of a global rollout which started on August 26 in 41 markets. Tenet will be released in the world’s two biggest box office markets, the US on September 3 and China on September 4.
In many cities around the world, including lucrative markets such as Los Angeles, cinemas are still closed.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, studios pulled their titles from the schedule as it became clear that public activities such as moviegoing would be impossible during a global public health crisis.
The next James Bond movie, No Time To Die, was the first to move, from April to November. Everything else followed soon after including the likes of Black Widow, A Quiet Place 2, Fast & Furious 9 and Top Gun: Maverick.
Other movies including The Lovebirds, Greyhound and now Mulan were punted to digital and streaming platforms, skipping a cinematic release all together. Amy Adams’ The Woman in the Window is rumoured to be heading to Netflix.
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For months, Tenet remained the outlier, staying in its then-July release berth.
Its reticence to change bestowed on it a “saviour” status, as if Tenet and its famously pro-theatrical director Nolan will rescue the big screen experience from obsolescence in the face of overwhelming challenges from both coronavirus and deep-pocketed streaming companies.
Since cinemas reopened in Australia in late-June, there have been few notable new movies as studios held back titles.
The King of Staten Island, The Personal History of David Copperfield and Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged have topped box office charts in recent weeks. Unhinged had the most robust opening weekend until now with $800,000 in Australia.
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