Christopher Nolan's Tenet has topped US$280 million worldwide, dominating a mild US box office with US$3.4 million at 2,850 locations in its fourth weekend to go past US$41 million in four weeks.
The Warner Bros tentpole, which carries a hefty US$200 million price tag, took in a weekend total of US$19.2 million worldwide in 58 markets. The US posting the top number with a 26 per cent decline, followed by Japan with US$3 million in its second weekend and a 30 per cent decline.
Tenet is the first major studio release to launch during the pandemic, and its small-ish numbers underline the industry's challenge of attracting customers amid a health crisis. Disney's Mulan – which isn't getting a theatrical release in the US – grossed US$3.4 million in 20 markets to lift it to US$64 million world wide. Its fifth weekend of The New Mutants took in US$2.5 million worldwide, including US$1.1 million in the US.
The estimates were released three days after Disney postponed the release of a trio of fall blockbusters – Marvel's Black Widow, Steven Spielberg's West Side Story and Kenneth Branagh's Death On The Nile – by several months. Those delays were the latest in a long line of titles pushed out of the summer and fall due to coronavirus.
Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, said it's no surprise that the US moviegoing business is subdued amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This weekend is continuing what's now expected to become a trend of quieter weekends at the domestic box office in the early autumn weeks following numerous release delays since Tenet opened," he added. "It's another good news, bad news scenario as Tenet itself and other films are displaying stronger legs than typically seen in pre-pandemic times, but the volume of total business in the market is lacking due to modest consumer awareness, the absence of four-quad films, and no promotional engine usually driven by the Los Angeles and New York markets."
Currently, about 75 per cent of US markets are open but the key Los Angeles and New York markets remain closed along with most of the rest of California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Mexico, Seattle-Tacoma and Portland. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, estimated that only 58 per cent of theatres are currently open in North America.
"The marketplace is as expected sleepy and uncertain," he added. "However, there is at least some encouraging news in the fact that where people have the option, film fans are heading to the movie theatre while others are seeking out the big screen experience even in neighbouring cities if their local multiplex is unavailable."