LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” willed itself past the $300 million mark globally this weekend even as the overall domestic box office appeared to be on the verge of collapse.
Disney’s “Hocus Pocus,” a Bette Middler comedy that flopped when it was initially released in 1993, but became a cult hit on cable and streaming, almost matched “Tenet’s” grosses in North America and beat those of “The New Mutants.” Re-released just in time for Halloween,” “Hocus Pocus” picked up $1.9 million from 2,570 theaters. “Tenet” earned $2.7 million from 2,722 venues, pushing its domestic haul to a paltry $45.1 million. “The New Mutants” eked out $1 million from 2,154 locations, bringing its domestic total to $20.9 million.
“Tenet’ has struggled to attract stateside audiences with the kind of fervor that typically greets Nolan films such as “Inception” and “Dunkirk.” Audiences seem hesitant to return to cinemas when coronavirus infection rates remain stubbornly high in the U.S., but the weak results are also attributable to the fact that major markets such as Los Angeles and New York haven’t allowed theaters to reopen due to the pandemic.
“Tenet” has fared much better overseas, grossing $14.2 million globally this weekend from 59 markets. That pushed the international total to $262 million and the worldwide haul to $307 million. Normally, that figure would signal disaster for a $200 million film with an elaborate marketing campaign. In pandemic times, the results have to be weighed more charitably, even if they suggest “Tenet” will lose millions during its theatrical run. Warner Bros., the studio behind “Tenet,” believes the film will make more money by launching in theaters than it would have if it had debuted on video-on-demand or on HBO Max. That strategy would have been a tough, likely impossible sell for Nolan, who