Tenet Won’t Launch on HBO Max Before It Hits Movie Theatres

That bullet hole is my hopes and dreams destroyed, and I am staring at it.  (Image: Warner Bros.)
That bullet hole is my hopes and dreams destroyed, and I am staring at it. (Image: Warner Bros.)

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet might exist outside of space and time, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to take an unconventional approach to its release. WarnerMedia’s parent company CEO has confirmed that Tenet, which has been indefinitely delayed, will not debut on HBO Max before hitting theatres.

In a conference call with analysts on Thursday (as reported by Deadline), AT&T CEO John Stankey was asked whether moves like Tenet could be released on HBO Max instead of getting a standard theatrical run. This comes after several months of delays for Christopher Nolan’s latest because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, to the point where it has now been pulled indefinitely. Other movies like Trolls World Tour, Artemis Fowl, and the upcoming Bill & Ted Face the Music have been moved to on demand, but it’s yet to happen with a major Hollywood blockbuster. According to Stankey, there are no plans to do so either.

“Is it going to happen with a movie like Tenet or something like Wonder Woman [1984]?” 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.”

Several of this year’s biggest films have seen delays, as movie theatres remain closed due to rising covid-19 cases across the country. Wonder Woman 1984 has been pushed back to October 2. Disney’s Mulan, which was set to open right as the pandemic started, is currently slotted for August 21. Both of these movies, along with several others, could easily see more delays in the U.S. if the pandemic situation doesn’t improve. In the meantime, some films are prepping for international release before they come out domestically, including Tenet. Because those countries have their shit together.

Stankey said he’s happy that streaming exists as a movie release option, especially for lower-budget films like Seth Rogan’s American Pickle, but emphasised that some movies are meant to be enjoyed on the big screen. This has been a huge push for Tenet — with Nolan himself telling Deadline last month that it’s a cinematic experience, and that watching it for the first time on a television in your living room won’t do it justice.

“There’s some content that is going to be more enjoyable and better to see in theatres than in the living room,” Stankey said, adding: “I don’t know when theatres are going to reopen, just as I can’t say exactly when schools are going to reopen.”

Tenet currently does not have a release date, although Warner Bros. is working on its plans for the film’s debut — internationally and domestically. The fact that it won’t come to streaming anytime soon means it may be a while before we get to enjoy it, crushing the hopes of those who don’t want to have to wait until the pandemic resides to see John David Washington travel backwards in a car.