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Christopher Nolan believes Hollywood learned the wrong lesson from Tenet’s box office flop

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Christopher Nolan believes Hollywood learned the wrong lesson from Tenet's box office flop 3

2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year for many of us, but for the film entertainment industry it was an unrelenting flame that almost burned the industry to the ground. It’s not just the obvious financial pain that movie studios are reeling from over delayed releases that are massively affecting their bottom line, but the industry that supports films like cinema chains are all struggling to survive through this time. It won’t be getting any better in the near future, as new waves of COVID-19 infections have hit Europe.

Following initial closures when the pandemic first broke, there was hope that the cinema industry would survive when several tentpole films were rescheduled into the second half of the year, but once Christopher Nolan’s Tenet released and failed to reignite the box office, every other big Hollywood blockbuster has tried to avoid a similar ticket sales mauling. Nolan feels that Hollywood is learning the wrong lessons from Tenet’s box office loss, as he revealed in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times:

Christopher Nolan believes Hollywood learned the wrong lesson from Tenet's box office flop 4

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.

Nolan went on to say how he is thrilled he was that Tenet managed to make $350 million worldwide, even though that means the film is still a loss when you factor in its production and advertising costs. The director believes that going to movies is an important part of life and he doesn’t want to see the culture of watching films in a cinema disappear.

Tenet is an amazing movie that I think many more people deserve to see it, but it’s just a pity that it landed in theatres at a time when people’s health was just not worth risking. I genuinely believe it is the type of movie that will blow your mind. I have to disagree a little with Nolan here, as I think the appetite for movies in general is still present and studios will return to a traditional cinematic release model when the threat of being infected with a potentially lethal virus is finally over. When Tenet does come out on streaming or on-demand services, I expect it will do very well though given just how good the movie is.

I do think he has a point about how studios are not supporting theatres at the moment and that a bigger partnership between them can work to help the entire industry survive. What that looks like though, in a way that keeps people safe, I am not sure. Cinemas that do survive will likely focus on blockbusters to survive, with smaller movies going the way of streaming services as has been the case recently.  It has been a difficult year for the movie industry, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to survive.

Last Updated: November 4, 2020

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