‘Tenet’ Will Definitely Hit Theaters Before HBO Max, AMC Sets August Reopen Plan

The fate of movie theaters continue to be linked directly to the future of Tenet, and exhibitors were dealt a mighty blow when Warner Bros. pulled the film from release indefinitely. While it appears a staggered release plan is what they’re going for, theater owners can rest assured that Christopher Nolan’s anticipated thriller won’t be going directly to HBO Max.

During a conference call (via Deadline), John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, shot down any idea that Tenet would stream on HBO Max or anywhere before it’s seen in theaters. He also included Wonder Woman 1984, although he’s less concrete when it comes to the superhero sequel…

“Is it going to happen with a movie like Tenet or something like Wonder Woman?” Stankey said. “I’d be very surprised if that would be the case. In fact, I can assure you with Tenet, that’s not going to be the case.”

He continued in a CNBC interview…

“It needs to release nationwide. So if you have a major metropolitan area — say, Los Angeles — that’s totally out of check and you have other parts of the country that are totally in control, it doesn’t necessarily give you an option to open it in half the country. It just doesn’t work very well that way.”

So it sounds as if Stankey is shooting down the notion of a staggered release that would see Tenet release in some U.S. markets, and some foreign territories, before others. My contention with that is the epic amount of piracy that would take place, a factor I’m sure WB execs have considered.

Stankey continued…

“It’s a movie, an experience, that should be seen in theaters. It was engineered to be that way. As a result of that, it needs to show up that way. Certainly, Christopher would like it to be that way. That’s how he wants that piece of work that he’s done to be seen by moviegoers and that’s why it’s going to be something that shows up in a theater.”

As for other movies that maybe aren’t as big as Tenet or WW84, Stankey says those films will have to be evaluated based on market conditions…

“The longer this goes on, there’s going to be some content on the margins that we’re going to look at and say it may be better served to be distributed in another construct or a different construct. There’s some content that is going to be more enjoyable and better to see in theaters than in the living room. I don’t know when theaters are going to reopen.”

Meanwhile, AMC Theatres are moving ahead with a new reopening plan, and this time they aren’t connecting it directly to the release of Tenet. So say goodbye to the July 30th date most-recently established the last time WB and Disney moved their summer blockbusters. Instead, AMC will reopen its 450 multiplexes in mid-to-late August. Safety regulations to help protect customers from COVID-19 are being put in place, and were laid out in detail some weeks ago.

“The new timing reflects currently expected release dates for much-anticipated blockbusters like Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan as well as release dates for several other new movies coming to AMC’s big screens,”, a statement from AMC reads.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.