‘Tenet’ to debut internationally a week before its U.S. premiere

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in "Tenet," which will be released in the U.S. beginning Sept. 3.
(Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros. Pictures.)

Warner Bros. now plans to begin the global rollout of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on Aug. 26. But U.S. audiences will have to wait at least a week longer.

Faced with the continued COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the AT&T Inc.-owned studio will release the potential blockbuster in countries including Britain, Canada, Denmark, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, South Korea and Sweden in late August.

The time-bending movie will be released in the U.S. “over Labor Day weekend in select cities,” the Burbank-based studio said in a statement. The U.S. release will begin Sept. 3.

The continuing coronavirus crisis forced Warner Bros. to rethink its release strategy for the film, which stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson.

Recent comments by Trump administration officials have drawn renewed attention to Hollywood’s moves to placate Chinese censors.

Big Hollywood movies usually open in as many theaters as possible at roughly the same time to maximize box office returns by making the debut a global event.

Warner Bros. originally wanted to release the movie July 17 in order to help revive the cinema business, which has been dormant since mid-March. Because of the spread of disease, particularly in the key market of Los Angeles, Warner Bros. delayed the release several times.


Last week, the studio postponed the rescheduled Aug. 12 debut indefinitely, signaling that it would come up with a staggered release plan to adapt to the unique circumstances. Walt Disney Co. also paused plans to launch its big budget “Mulan” remake.

International box office markets have become increasingly important to Hollywood studios, though the U.S. remains the biggest market for ticket sales. Two-thirds of the global take for “Tenet” is expected to come from foreign nations.

This will not be the first major studio production to debut overseas first. Warner Bros. in 2018 premiered the superhero adventure “Aquaman” in China two weeks ahead of its stateside premiere. The film was a massive hit in China, which is the second-largest box office market.

“Tenet” does not yet have a release date in China.