When reports came in that “Tenet” had made $20 million at the domestic box office, the conversation obviously focused on how difficult it is to analyze the performance of a $200 million-budgeted blockbuster in the middle of a pandemic. But soon it came clear that the numbers weren’t what they seem. It seems like Warner Bros. is refusing to share any more box office details than the film’s first opening weekend gross, and it even included the previous that started out nearly a week before opening night.
As Variety reports, box office analysts noted a “surprising lack of transparency” surrounding the box office for Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet,” especially a complete lack of daily numbers, with the studio first reporting opening weekend numbers on Sunday, September 6 instead of the usual early estimates on Friday. As Deadline estimates, the actual 4-day opening weekend domestic gross for “Tenet” is around $12 million, barely above half of what was originally reported.
As the Deadline report indicates, last week’s opening weekend box office report for “Tenet” will only bring more trouble this weekend. If “Tenet” makes $7.5 million this weekend, then that would mean a massive 62% second weekend drop if we continue to go by the incorrect $20 million opening weekend gross rather than a 33% drop from the estimated $12 million.
The Variety report adds that, where usually research companies report daily numbers and get access to a film’s grosses by the hour, Warner Bros. agreed only to give out daily numbers for the first weekend of Nolan’s latest “as a courtesy.”
Given how many eyes are on “Tenet” and especially its box office results, it’s possible that the lack of transparency could become a trend as more big movies open in theaters during the pandemic. Since it’s safe to assume no movie will earn as much as they would have pre-pandemic, studios may be more than happy to avoid having to include a disclaimer next to every box office report and simply stop reporting their grosses.
Netflix has never really reported specific numbers, and reporters have been forced to simply take the streaming giant’s word for it whenever a new Adam Sandler movie becomes their biggest hit ever, maybe studios will be next.