Christopher Nolan's Tenet Is Making A Big Box Office Comeback, Despite Disappointing Original Release

Tenet was supposed to be the movie that heralded the grand return of cinema during a hellish year that saw the traditional summer blockbuster season pretty much cancelled. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, as the Christopher Nolan-directed mindbender pulled in disappointing box office returns. However, the reopening of theaters in New York and Los Angeles has led to Tenet making some big money on IMAX screens in recent weeks, leading to a newly extended run.

In an announcement made by IMAX, Tenet has officially extended its large format run in those still-limited metropolitan markets, with new showings added up until March 30th. Thanks to “more than 30 sold out shows” in those recently opened markets, the would-be blockbuster is playing quite well months after its original theatrical release ended. Considering Tenet is widely available on home video, rental platforms, and even Game Boy Advance cartridges at this very moment, it’s even more of an indication that fans are flocking to the theatrical experience where available. Just as Christopher Nolan had hoped.

Part of the novelty in heading to see Tenet in IMAX is, of course, the fact that both New York and Los Angeles are showing the film in exclusive 70mm format showings. Movie fans that love the feel of the warm and crisp celluloid picture that Nolan films deliver in such a format are obviously indulging in that option. But even those who are merely able to see the film in digital IMAX are still in for a treat, thanks to Christopher Nolan formatting his time inverted adventure for that very theatrical option.

It’ll take a lot more than IMAX auditoriums in New York and Los Angeles opening to put Tenet into the same rarified air as previous Christopher Nolan hits like Interstellar, or even Dunkirk. And that March 30th deadline isn’t a coincidence either, as Warner Bros is rolling out their next potential hit, Godzilla vs. Kong, into as many formats as possible. But at the very least, Tenet’s current IMAX exhibition will allow for the film to grab as much cash as it can between now and next week.

Perhaps this twist of fate related to Tenet’s complicated theatrical history will be something that helps mellow out tensions between Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. When the huge decision was made to drop the studio’s entire 2021 slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously, Nolan was one of the filmmakers that felt rather insulted by the decision. This has led to a lot of people wondering if the studio that’s given him such creative freedom will ever work with him again.

Tenet will probably see itself sinking back into the background after this new theatrical release finishes its course. But even though it took John David Washington and Robert Pattinson’s spy-fi antics a longer than usual time to hit New York and Los Angeles’ screens, it looks like that effort was worth every penny. So if you’re keen on getting to see Tenet the way that Christopher Nolan intended, you’d better keep an eye on your local theater’s listings. Reduced capacity is, unquestionably, helping sell out auditoriums, and you’re not going to want to miss out!

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.