Long ago – or, in some ways, up to the quite recent past of fifteen or so years – the template for releasing movies used to be far from the ‘day and date’ format that sees a majority of productions hit global territories on the same day or as close to it as possible. Though the ‘word-of-mouth’ factor of the older rollout was affected, there were many advantages in the newer way and the method of synchronising releases was born out of a practicality to avoid the growing problem of pirate copies.
However in the age of COVID the gradual wave of release, rather than a quick surge, may once again be the order of the day. Different countries around the world are at different points in their battle with COVID and some territories are actively moving towards opening more of their cinema screens in the weeks to come, rather than months. This means that several key releases are eyeing a debut in the international arena ahead of the still-problematic United States.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, removed from the schedules in the last week or so, looks to be the most prominent title to be taking this with the new plan to open the film outside the US starting on 26th August and considering a limited Labor Day release on 3rd September domestically. It will begin in 70 overseas territories, which industry sites such as Variety listed as:
Wednesday, 26th August in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom; Thursday, 27th August in Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Middle East, New Zealand, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates; Friday, 28th August in East Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Vietnam; Wednesday, 3rd September in United States, Kuwait and Qatar; Thursday, 10th September in Azerbaijan, CIS Others, Kazakhstan, Russia; Thursday, 17th September in Cyprus and Friday, 18th September in Japan.
The American date in particular is still open to question, keeping a watchful eye on any further (or continued) spikes in the pandemic and the opinions of the cinema-chains.
It’s still a risky strategy… Tenet, though much-anticipated as a concept, is not a definitive ‘must-see’ film that will have people rushing to multiplexes by sheer force of brand. With very little known about the film beyond its time/reality-warping trailer, it’s been marketed with the Nolan name and the snatches of CGI released so far. A staggered release will likely have pirating issues, but it is an expensive film that will need to make its money back as quickly as possible as, right now, it would seem there are pros and cons for every decision all all will see some degree of hit to its ‘box-office’.