Christopher Nolan's forthcoming movie Tenet, which had been hoped would herald Hollywood's return to big theatrical releases, has yet again had its release date postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Warner Bros said that Tenet will not make its August 12 release date. Unlike previous delays, the studio this time didn't announce a new target for the release of Nolan's much-anticipated $200 million thriller.
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Tenet had already shifted from July 17, then July 31 and then August 12. Nolan, a staunch advocate for the big-screen experience, has strenuously hoped that Tenet could lead the resumption of nationwide and global moviegoing.
But the surge of the virus across much of the US has upended the industry's aims for even a late-August return. Last week, California ordered its cinemas closed.
Warner Bros Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich said the studio will soon share a new "2020 release date" for Tenet. It may be a much different rollout, with the film opening in a staggered international release.
"We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that," said Emmerich.
Emmerich said the pandemic's spread has forced the studio to reevaluate its plans. Warner Bros also shifted the horror sequel The Conjuring 3 from September 11 this year to June 4, 2021.
"Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theatre partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen," said Emmerich. "We're grateful for the support we've received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world."
Other films have planned their releases partially around the launch of Tenet. Walt Disney Co's Mulan remains scheduled for theatrical release on August 21.
Movie theatres remain in a precarious limbo. Without new releases, US indoor theatres and drive-ins that are open have played mostly older films and a smattering of smaller new releases.
Before the recent spike in the coronavirus crisis, theatre chains have sought to assure moviegoers with protocols like limiting theatres to 25-50 per cent capacity and cleaning seats in between showings.
But months of closed theatres and no new product has put enormous pressure on an already stressed business. AMC Theatres, the world's largest chain, recently reached a debt deal to help itself remain solvent.
AMC has been aiming to reopen most locations July 30. Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, had set July 31 for its reopening.