The summer blockbuster season is increasingly looking like a non-event and theater owners are more worried than ever. The debate around the reopening of venues has intensified this week, as coronavirus cases hit record levels across the country.
What’s happened? Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which was supposed to herald the return of cinemas when it opened in August, has been taken off the release calendar. Warner Bros. will “imminently” announce a new date later in the year, and has implied that it will release the film at different times in different markets, breaking with convention for this kind of major tentpole feature.
What does that mean for U.S. theaters? Bad news. Disney’s Mulan, now the only major tentpole due to come out this summer, is still down for an August 21 release. If that changes, theaters will be left with an empty August, and no way to entice audiences for the foreseeable future. A caveat: Warner Bros. could stagger their release within the U.S., as well as across the world, letting the film play first in cities where the situation is relatively safe.