Christopher Nolan's Tenet Continues to Struggle at U.S. Box Office as Many Theaters Remain Closed

Tenet is losing momentum at the box office stateside amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

After opening over Labor Day weekend earlier this month while movie theaters in areas throughout the country remain shut down, the action film reportedly garnered significantly diminished ticket sales over the weekend.

According to Variety, Tenet grossed $4.7 million in North America over the course of its third weekend. The Christopher Nolan–directed film's total domestic haul to $36.1 million, less than Nolan's war movie Dunkirk made in its opening weekend alone back in 2017. Many theaters across the country — including in New York and Los Angeles — remain closed, accounting for the film's low performance at the box office.

Variety also reports that Tenet — which is said to have an estimated $200 million budget — has surpassed $250 million at the worldwide box office, with international markets carrying most of the weight.

Originally scheduled for release on July 17, Warner Bros. delayed the film several times amid COVID-19.

Nolan himself attended a screening earlier this month. On Sept. 15, Regal Cinemas tweeted a photo of the filmmaker, 50, wearing a mask as he posed inside a movie theater in Irvine, California.

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Nolan — known for cinematic spectacles like 2010's Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy — previously said in a statement why Tenet deserves to be enjoyed on the big screen.

"I think of all the films that I’ve made, this is perhaps the one that is most designed for the audience experience, the big screen experience," he said, per Deadline. "This is a film whose image and sound really needs to be enjoyed in your theaters on the big screen, and we’re very very excited for you to see what it is we’ve done."

"We’ve made big films in the past, but this is a film whose global reach and level of action is beyond anything we’ve ever attempted before," continued Nolan. "I think we only would have been able to pull off this film with the level of experience we’ve had doing action films in the past.

Tenet stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in a mind-bending story that centers on The Protagonist (Washington), who must find a way to stop Kenneth Branagh's Sator from starting World War III through time-manipulation.

To be able to see the film, theaters have agreed to follow local guidelines regarding social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, which include requiring a face mask anywhere inside a theater with the exception of when moviegoers are enjoying concessions, according to Indiewire.

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