Its happened: Warner Bros. has delayed Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. For a while now, the upcoming blockbuster was poised to be the $225 million litmus test for whether or not cinemas will be getting back to business properly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it wasn’t going to be the first film released after cinemas proposed to reopen (that’s actually the Russell Crowe-led indie thriller Unhinged which is now dropping on 10 July) it would be the biggest and most expensive by far. A report going around was that WB needed 90% of cinemas in the major cinema markets to open for Tenet to stick to its original 17 July release date. Well, it’s not sticking… but it’s not going too far either.
In a flurry of announcements in the early hours of Saturday morning, WB confirmed that Tenet was being delayed, but just by two weeks to 31 July. I’m not sure how much of a difference an extra fortnight will make to the US cinema landscape, but the studio clearly feels it will. And to make it up to the Chris Nolan fans for this delay, WB will instead be re-releasing the filmmaker’s masterful Inception into theatres to mark that film’s 10 year anniversary. Yes, it’s been 10 years since Inception released. You are officially old.
Meanwhile, with Tenet being delayed, that means that all the pressure of being the proverbial canary in the coalmine has now shifted to Disney’s Mulan. The live-action remake is now set to open a week before Tenet on 24 July. With the pressures of COVID-19 combined with the proximity to Tenet, I expect we’ll be getting a delay announcement from the House of Mouse any day now.
Even if there isn’t one, Tenet’s new release date becomes the first domino to fall in a cascade of calendar shuffles as WB tries to prevent their own movies competing against each other. As such Wonder Woman 1984 is now being given some breathing room as it moves from its original 14 August slot to 2 October 2020. Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Witches now vacates its 9 October 2020 spot for a new still-to-be-announced 2021 release date, while the Tom & Jerry origin story feature film adaptation gets bumped from 23 December 2020 to 5 March 2021.
Meanwhile, Adam Wingard’s hotly-anticipated Godzilla vs Kong monster mash – a co-production between WB and Legendary – is stomping out of its original 20 November 2020 slot to 21 May 2021. Lionsgate’s Chris Rock-led Saw spinoff Spiral is opening on the exact same day, so there will be some counter-programming on offer for those folks not interested in a kaiju smackdown.
What also has to be pointed out is that 21 May 2021 was supposed to be the release date of the still-untitled The Matrix 4, but now WB is unplugging the sci-fi sequel from the 2020 release calendar entirely. Instead, the upcoming film – which sees original trilogy stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss returning as Neo and Trinity – will be jacking into a new release on 1 April 2022. A delay was probably going to happen whether Tenet started this ball rolling or not, as The Matrix 4 production has been shut down since March.
And finally, for those people who keep track of these things, that is just a week after the release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness which means we’re getting a sorcery vs science-fiction battle in early 2022.
Last Updated: June 15, 2020