However, Warner Bros. did gamble that there could be a renewed interest in going to movie theaters while wearing a mask and social distancing. Hence the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in European, Asian, and Australian cinemas at the end of August, and in select U.S. theaters at the beginning of September. But while that film has managed to gross a nine-figured $300 million worldwide, only a meager $42 million of that is from the U.S.
And when the last two Nolan movies before Tenet both grossed over $500 million worldwide, with his most recent science fiction film, Interstellar, grossing about $700 million, it is impossible to view Tenet’s muted reception as anything but a disappointment. Yet that is fairly rosy when compared to Disney dropping The New Mutants into the abyss of ignominy during the pandemic; the final Fox-produced superhero movie opened to just $7 million in the U.S., and has only grossed $41 million worldwide.
WB was clearly alarmed by the numbers, as it immediately moved Wonder Woman 1984 from Oct. 2 to a Christmas Day release, though it remains unclear how December will be any better a time for moviegoing than October given the current rising rates of COVID-19 infections. It also places Wonder Woman 1984 in direct competition with the only other major live-action blockbuster left on the 2020 calendar, WB’s own Dune. Many have thus speculated one or both release dates are tenuous at best.
Meanwhile the last major studio tentpole left in 2020 is Disney’s latest Pixar movie, Soul. Co-directed by Pete Docter of Up and Inside Out fame, it’s one of Pixar’s most intriguing projects in the last few years and has maintained its Thanksgiving-timed release date, even as Disney moved Black Widow and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake out of 2020. It has thus left many speculating the film will wind up on Disney+ as a PVOD offering, similar to Mulan.