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Christopher Nolan remained quiet as Warner Bros. made the controversial decision to release his film Tenet to theaters in the midst of a global pandemic. Now that the box office numbers are in, however, Nolan is going on the record to talk about what Tenet’s performance means for the movies going forward.
In a chat with the Los Angeles Times to promote an upcoming book on the director, Nolan said that prognosticators and critics were taking all the wrong lessons away from Tenet’s global box office of nearly $350 million, focusing on a small take at the U.S. box office.
“Warner Bros. released Tenet, and I’m thrilled that it has made almost $350 million,” Nolan shared. “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.”
Surprisingly for a director whose film was released during a pandemic, Nolan chastised studios for not accepting the new reality of movie-going and seeking to adapt to the times. He argued that movies and theaters were essential, in the old, pre-pandemic sense of the word, and would return at the close of the crisis so long as the principal players could weather the storm.
“Long term, movie-going is a part of life, like restaurants and everything else," he said. “But right now, everybody has to adapt to a new reality."