For a while, it seemed like every day brought news of a different release date for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, but Warner Bros. has finally appeared to settle on a premiere: Deadline reports that Warner Bros. is having early access screenings from August 31 through September 2 in “select cities” across the U.S.—that is, those where cinemas are actually open.
While these screenings are technically “early access,” they predate the actual U.S. premiere date by only three days. And as for locations where they could actually take place, there’s a huge variation across state, county, and even city lines. IndieWire has a pretty comprehensive summary of different social distancing, capacity, and face mask guidelines (dated August 6), but the two historically biggest cities for premieres (NYC and LA) are in states without a definite date for reopened theaters: Deadline reports that both California and New York remain in limbo as of August 18.
But even if theaters everywhere were to open, sitting in an enclosed, unventilated auditorium half-full of supposedly masked strangers during a pandemic doesn’t seem like such a hot idea, to put it mildly. Drive-in movie theaters are better, of course, but it’s unclear how many of the early access or premiere day screenings will take place in these venues. (As of July 27, a Warner Bros. source told IndieWire that drive-ins will be offered the chance to screen Tenet on a “case-by-case basis.”)
There is one easy solution for all of this, which is for Warner Bros. to take a page out of Disney’s playbook and release Tenet on VOD, although hopefully for a less astronomical sum than Mulan’s $30—$37 if you count the Disney+ subscription fee—ticket fee.
Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kenneth Branagh, Clémence Poésy, and Michael Caine. It’s optimistically slated for release on September 3.