Christopher Nolan's Tenet continues to make progress at the box office and is now nearing $300 million worldwide. Even though the box office has become dominated by sequels, reboots, and remakes, Nolan has proven to be one of the rare filmmakers who can make original movies that perform well. His original movies Inception, Interstellar, and Dunkirk each made over $500 million worldwide, and that gave Tenet similar box office expectations heading into 2020.
However, Tenet's theatrical release and subsequent box office performance have been dramatically altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. The movie was delayed a few times but still rolled out in theaters where possible around the world starting in late August. Tenet has performed well internationally given the circumstances, but the domestic box office has been underwhelming with major markets like New York and Los Angeles not having theaters open. Despite all of that, Tenet is closing in on another box office milestone.
Warner Bros. has released the latest box office figures for Tenet and showed how close the film is to crossing $300M worldwide after making $19.2M this past weekend globally. This brings the film's international box office total to $242M, while the domestic box office sits at just $41.2M. The combined totals bring Tenet's worldwide box office to $283.2M.
Even though this performance isn't what Nolan or WB envisioned from Tenet at the start of the year, it is a decent performance all things considered. The movie is still performing better overseas, as only $3.4M of this weekend's $19.2M gross came from the United States and Canada. It's possible the fortunes of Tenet could change domestically slightly as theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco begin to open. Interestingly, the top three performing locations domestically this last weekend were drive-ins in California, so WB's decision to change its policies on drive-ins showing Tenet has been beneficial so far.
Tenet crossing $300M worldwide would be a nice milestone to surpass, but it is still expected that the movie will end up losing money for WB. After initial claims that the movie needed to make $800M to turn a profit, it has been revealed that Tenet needs to earn $500M worldwide to break even. This would seem impossible given the current state of the box office, as it is difficult to imagine the movie nearly doubling what it has made in almost one month. Even if Tenet is the only major movie out in theaters for the foreseeable future (or as long as they can realistically stay open), making another $200M without any major markets left to open is a long shot.