Is ‘Tenet’ the last blockbuster film you’ll be able to see in theaters?
Nearly every industry is feeling the pain from COVID-19. Combining mandatory shutdowns, limited capacities, and stay-at-home orders, movie theaters are really bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. However, with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, moviegoers could finally see the glimmering light at the end of the tunnel.
Except things didn’t play out as we hoped it would. Tenet didn’t bring moviegoers flocking back to the theater. Rather than bolstering cinema profits, Tenet barely made a dent, leaving hopeful cinephiles at a loss. So what went wrong? Let’s take a look.
The failure of Tenet
A few months into pandemic-induced quarantine, moviegoers couldn’t stop talking about how much they missed going to the theater. But with the rise in COVID-19 cases and no cure in sight, the likelihood of theater doors opening looked bleak at best.
Enter Christopher Nolan with his time-bending blockbuster hopeful, Tenet. A lot of people were rooting for Tenet, a highly-anticipated spectacle and espionage & sci-fi hybrid, to save movie theatres from sinking. BBC even portrayed Nolan as the “patron saint” of cinemas.
From the script to the director, Tenet had every tool in its arsenal to fulfill its mission. Nolan’s unwavering force even had the support of film critics which is hard to come by. Unfortunately, even Nolan’s brilliant film couldn’t save movie theatres from their impending doom – especially after the blow delivered by WarnerMedia.
Nolan’s decision to give Tenet the theatrical release it deserves in the middle of a global pandemic resulted in his career’s lowest-grossing film. Worse, it could be the last blockbuster we’ll see in theatres.
Hollywood bigwigs switching it up
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our life, filmmakers are scrambling to either delay the release of their work or release it onto streaming platforms.
Last month, Warner Bros. announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will be available for HBO Max subscribers on the same day it would debut in movie theaters – a move that stoked up the conflict between cinemas & streaming services.
Within a week of the announcement, WarnerMedia declared that its entire slate of films due to be released in 2021 will be made available on HBO Max at the same time they hit theater screens.
The news WarnerMedia greenlit the release of their theater-bound movies on streaming platforms is a big deal for the film industry. Considering this decision was made by such an influential banner, chances are that many other major players will also follow its lead.
In fact, a report by Deadline alleged Disney is considering releasing a chunk of their tentpole movies on their streaming platform Disney + instead of in theaters. That said, is this really the end of movie theatres? When major players start pivoting to digital platforms, it sure does become a daunting challenge for theater owners and, by extension, moviegoers, to keep cinemas open, let alone existing.
Death of movie theatres
After WarnerMedia’s announcement, movie theater stocks took a nosedive. Until now, the possibility of a vaccine could mean a chance of revival for movie theaters but when the same blockbusters can be streamed from the comfort of your home, even the launch of vaccines might not be able to save theaters.
Throughout most of this year, people turned to streaming platforms for their daily dose of entertainment. With the announcement that big-budget blockbusters will now be available on streaming, no one may want to go to a movie theater again.
For cinema houses, it becomes much harder to sell tickets when viewers can stream the same content from their couches. According to a recent survey published by Variety, “a whopping 70% (of responders) say they are more likely to watch from their couch, while just 13% say they are more likely to watch at a local cinema (with 17% not sure).”
There are people who cherish the whole experience of a movie theater but they are heavily outnumbered by those who choose a digital alternative to watch films like Tenet.
With big-budget flicks switching to digital platforms and coronavirus raging on, Hollywood has its work cut out for them. But whether this is really Armageddon for cinemas or an overblown exaggeration remains to be seen. Do you think Tenet heralded the end of movie theaters? Let us know in the comments!