We’ve been too busy debating whether it’s right to open up movie theaters that we never stopped to consider the runtime of the movies waiting to open in theaters. Turns out, China already has a possible answer, as the country’s plans to reopen cinemas on July 20 will be limited to movies that run at two hours or less.
This places yet another barrier on Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet,” currently slated for release on August 12, and reportedly clocking in at 150 minutes — a full half-hour over the limit.
As reported by Variety earlier this week, China is planning to reopen movie theaters in low-risk areas this next week, but with several caveats. For one, the country has already readily closed movie theaters and other public spaces when new cases have surged. Furthermore, the report states that each screening will be limited to two hours in length, and even banning concessions from movie theaters.
That being said, the Chinese Film Association hasn’t provided details as to how they will handle longer films. For one, “Tenet” does not have a release date in China, and it also hasn’t set an end date for this runtime rule.
When it comes to Nolan’s film, we don’t even have a confirmed runtime, with the reports of a 150-minute runtime being based off a Korean ratings board. So it’s entirely possible that the film ends up being shorter, though Nolan isn’t exactly the type of filmmaker that makes films under two hours, making it likely that the film is at least over 120 minutes. This would mean that the film either loses China (albeit for a while) as a market, and that’s proven to be a considerably important market for studio tentpoles nowadays, or Nolan has to trim the film — and that seems highly unlikely.
We don’t know how China’s two-hour runtime rule will impact the release of “Tenet,” if at all, but it does serve as yet another source for debate in the ongoing saga of Nolan and Warner Bros. wanting to release this movie in theaters this year despite many, many signs that they should absolutely not do that.