Box office: As ‘Tenet’ breaks records internationally, ‘New Mutants’ makes modest debut

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in "Tenet."
(Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros. Pictures.)

As Hollywood aims to relaunch moviegoing worldwide, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated “Tenet” earned more than $53 million in its opening weekend across 41 international markets (including 32 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) on over 20,000 screens.

The result was the biggest opening for the director in nine countries including Holland, Ukraine and Hungary, the biggest industry opening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with $1.47 million and the second-biggest Hollywood film opening in Estonia, where the film was partially shot, with $340,000 grossed over the weekend.

Nolan’s film represents the first blockbuster hopeful to be released during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and its performance will be closely watched by the industry.


Despite the solid early returns, Warner Bros. was notably less transparent than usual in releasing specific data about its international performance, including cherry-picking which countries to highlight in information provided to the media and also distributed by measurement firm Comscore.

“Tenet” opened in Canada over the weekend, but domestic numbers were not immediately available, and it is unclear if they will be released or simply folded into next weekend’s report. The sci-fi mind-bender begins U.S. sneak preview screenings Monday night, in areas where indoor theaters are open, ahead of an official opening on Thursday for Labor Day weekend.

Before COVID-19, studios and theaters were locked into a rigid strategy for releasing films. Not anymore.

Aug. 27, 2020

After numerous release-date delays and savage reviews, 20th Century Studios’ “The New Mutants,” a spinoff of the long-running “X-Men” franchise, opened to $7 million in 2,412 locations this weekend, which was enough to top the domestic box office. It added $2.9 million in 10 international territories for a global debut of $9.9 million, according to estimates from Comscore. Disney inherited the film in its takeover of 20th Century Fox.

“New Mutants” earned a 32% “rotten” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, though Los Angeles Times staff writer Tracy Brown had a more positive take, noting, “There’s a sense that the film never quite figured out what it wanted to be as it juggled its teen horror and superhero elements, but it remains entertaining for what it is.”

More than 2,500 theaters were open this weekend in the U.S., and the number hits 3,000 with Canada included, per Comscore. That is nearly 50% of all locations open in the U.S. and Canada during the same period in 2019. “The New Mutants” screened at drive-ins in the Southland, including Disney’s own pop-up venue at the Rose Bowl.

Searchlight Pictures opened “The Personal History of David Copperfield” to $520,000 across 1,360 locations. The PG-rated comedy likely would have opened as a limited arthouse release when it was originally scheduled to hit theaters back in May. But with indoor theaters still closed in New York and California, the Disney specialty label decided to open it wide, across the country.


With a 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Copperfield” played locally at the Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair. The Armando Iannucci film, adapted from the Charles Dickens classic and starring Dev Patel in the title role, was the opening night selection of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

United Artists unveiled the threequel “Bill & Ted Face the Music” simultaneously to theaters and PVOD and earned an estimated $1,060,000 for the weekend from 1,007 locations. Because the film was made available for home viewing, it was not booked by the major U.S. exhibition chains including AMC. It played Southland-area drive-ins, including the Mission Tiki. Toplined by franchise stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, the time-travel comedy received a 79% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Solstice’s “Unhinged” added $3.6 million in its second week in the U.S., and its third week in Canada, across 2,331 locations for a cumulative total of $8.8 million. That’s down 35% from $4 million last weekend, when the Russell Crowe road rage thriller was in 1,823 locations. The domestic cume to date hit $8.8M.

LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions’ “Words on Bathroom Walls” added $453,360 in its second week, on 1,356 screens, for a per-screen average of $334 and a cumulative total of $1.1 million. That’s a modest increase of 5% from the $419,173 opening take last weekend, when the YA romance was in 924 locations. Domestic cume is now $1,083,605.

In addition to “Tenet,” new films set for release next weekend include Disney’s epic “Mulan,” which will play exclusively on the streaming service Disney+ in all territories where the service is available, and Charlie Kaufman’s cerebral thriller “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” which will bow on Netflix.