‘Tenet’ Stays Atop Box-Office With No Big Movies Challenging

The movie industry’s path to recovery from Covid-19 is grinding to a halt, with the Warner Bros. feature “Tenet” ruling the box office for a fourth week because it has no major competition.

The sci-fi thriller sold an estimate $3.4 million in tickets in North America this weekend, industry tracker Comscore Inc. said Sunday. The film from director Christopher Nolan has generated $41.2 million in total domestic revenue so far, which under normal circumstances would be a poor showing for a move that cost $200 million to produce.

The weekend figures, reflecting the continued closings of theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, along with social-distancing limits everywhere else, have caused other studios to delay their October and November releases, including Walt Disney Co.’s “Black Widow.” Against that backdrop, 2020 will be even tougher than cinema operators and studios initially thought. So far, box office receipts are down about 80% from a year ago, according to data from BoxOffice Media LLC.

Some new movies did open this weekend. The Sundance Film Festival favorite “Kajillionaire,” a heist comedy distributed by Comcast Corp.’s Focus Features, generated $215,000 in domestic ticket sales, Comscore said, while the Sony Pictures comedy-drama “The Last Shift” sold $235,000 worth of tickets.

International markets have fared better than the U.S., where virus deaths top 200,000. “Tenet” has now made $242 million overseas, bringing its global total to $283.2 million, an amount it splits with cinemas. Only 58% of the theaters in the U.S. and Canada are open, Comscore said.

The outlook for cinema abroad is also in doubt. France and the U.K. last week both reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic. And audiences in China have been slow to embrace new Hollywood films. Disney’s “Mulan,” featuring an all-Asian cast in a story about a Chinese woman who becomes a warrior, has generated $40 million in ticket sales in China since opening in that country.

Studios won’t be releasing new big-budget movies again until the holidays. The next major film is expected to be Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s James Bond installment “No Time to Die,” currently scheduled to premiere in the U.S on Nov. 20. AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. has two major films set for December, the sci-fi story “Dune” and DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman 1984.”

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