Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ Makes a Global Bet on the Film Industry

In Christopher Nolan’s new thriller, “Tenet,” the fate of humanity pivots on characters moving back and forth through time. It is an epic, brain-bending exploration of ideas the filmmaker has spent decades examining.

But now, as “Tenet” opens after multiple delays in cinemas around the world, it comes loaded with symbolism that its writer and director could never have foreseen. As the first big-budget theatrical release since Covid-19 struck, “Tenet” represents one of the biggest gambles in Hollywood history—from the studio wagering it can release the movie amid the pandemic, to long-dormant theater chains banking on it spurring a recovery for their business, to potential ticket buyers balancing safety concerns with their urge to get back to the big screen.

Mr. Nolan, though known as a champion of the theatrical experience, is somewhat uneasy with all the significance assigned to his sci-fi spy picture. “This is the most radical shift in my career, my lifetime, between the making of a film and the world it goes out into, and I’m still grappling with that,” he says.

Starting with an Aug. 26 opening in parts of Europe and elsewhere, the rollout of “Tenet” reaches the U.S. Sept. 3. It is the fourth domestic release date for the movie—which was delayed repeatedly as studio and theater executives dealt with shifting lockdown measures—yet it is still unclear when it will open in regions where indoor theaters remain closed. That includes two cities that are normally first to get new movies, New York City and Los Angeles.

When coronavirus lockdowns descended in March, Mr. Nolan says, his team’s first challenge was to use remote methods to put the final touches on “Tenet” and turn it in on time to AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio. Meanwhile, every big movie on deck for the season, starting with the James Bond installment “No Time To Die,” retreated on the calendar to fall or next year. By contrast, Warner Bros. pushed back the July 17 release of “Tenet” by only two weeks, and later pushed it again.

— to www.wsj.com

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