Christopher Nolan's Tenet Has Finally Lost Its Top Spot At The Box Office

John David Washington and Dimple Kapadia in Tenet

The cinematic landscape in 2020 has been a strange one to say the least, with the COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupting the business. For a longer stretch than anyone can remember, no new releases arrived on the big screen – but then that drought was brought to an end by Christopher Nolan's Tenet. The high profile blockbuster arrived over the Labor Day weekend following an early international release, and it has worn the box office crown ever since.

Well, that is, until now. After five weeks at the top of the charts, the time-bending thriller had to settle for second place this past weekend, as the ticket sales for Tim Hill's The War With Grandpa outpaced it over the last three days.

In its sixth week of release, Christopher Nolan's latest pulled in an additional $2.1 million to add to its domestic total, but for the first time since it started playing on screens in North America it wasn't the most popular title on the big screen. It didn't exactly get crushed, but the Robert De Niro comedy pulled in $3.6 million in its opening a.k.a. enough to push it down in the rankings.

The additional $2.1 million brings Tenet's domestic box office numbers up to $48.3 million, according to Variety. That's enough for it to now surpass Walt Disney Animation's Frozen II on the chart of top grossing titles in 2020 – but given that the hit sequel was first released in 2019 that's a pretty grim victory. After month than a month of playing in theaters the film is still only the thirteenth title on that chart, which is topped by Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi Bad Boys For Life ($204.4 million), Sam Mendes' 1917 ($157.9 million), and Jeff Fowler's Sonic The Hedgehog ($146.1 million).

As we've noted in recent write-ups of box office news, the big picture for Tenet is a lot rosier when you take its foreign box office numbers into consideration. Globally the film has made a much more Nolan-esque $323.3 million, but that's still not quite up the the high standards that have been established for the director. As far as films Christopher Nolan has directed, the total grosses sit between Batman Begins ($374 million) and Insomnia ($114 million).

For The War With Grandpa, these numbers can probably be considered a win both because of the extreme circumstances under which its been released and the project's long history. If you watched the film and felt like Robert De Niro perhaps looked a bit younger than he did in, say, Todd Phillips' Joker, it's because the movie was filmed back in 2017. The movie was originally made by The Weinstein Company, but plans for its theatrical distribution were put on hold following the exposure of the crimes committed by company co-founder Harvey Weinstein. 101 Studios picked up both it and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's The Current War in the aftermath, and while the latter was released last October, the Home Alone-esque comedy was kept on the shelf until 2020.

Where things go from here at the box office is disturbingly unclear, as almost every major release has now fled the 2020 theatrical schedule, with the most recent news being about Pixar's Soul shifting to a Disney+ release on Christmas. As ever, we will continue to keep you apprised of all developments here on CinemaBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.