Usually, trailers end with the theatrical release date of the movie, but the Tenet release date is conspicuously absent from the new trailer. Warner Bros. confirms to IGN that Tenet’s release date is still July 17, 2020. But will that change?
While the studio declined to address the matter, the reality is that it’s entirely possible Tenet’s release could be delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Ending the new trailer with simply “coming to theaters” certainly casts some doubt — or at least offers Warner Bros. some wiggle room — to postpone the film’s release if needed.
Tenet director Christopher Nolan has made no secret of his advocacy for the theatrical experience — particularly IMAX and 70mm, both of which formats Tenet will be presented in — so a pivot to a digital debut for the movie was never really in the cards. The question is, how soon can Warner Bros. open Tenet when consumers and theaters agree it’s safe to do so — and will it be commercially viable for the studio?
As Deadline recently reasoned, “Warner Bros needs at least 80% of the world’s theaters to be open, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (which rep 25% of a pic’s opening weekend), in order to keep Tenet on its original release date. If such signs don’t appear positive in the next three weeks or sooner, Tenet moves. In order to make bank on a $200M production, Warners needs the globe’s exhibition infrastructure intact.”
That gives Warner Bros. basically until early-to-mid June to make the final call on whether Tenet sticks to July 17 or moves to a later date. After all, any later and it will be difficult for them to stage the sort of marketing campaign such a big theatrical release would need. As Deadline notes in their report, if Tenet moves, then everything else on Warners’ upcoming release slate — from Wonder Woman 1984 in August to conceivably even Dune in December — shifts to later dates as well.
So as of right now Tenet is still slated to open in theaters on July 17, 2020. We should know within the next three weeks if that date is truly possible or not.