‘Tenet’ U.S. Press Screenings Unlikely for Some Major Cities

As Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated feature readies for a worldwide release, Warner Bros. is pursuing a different kind of screening plan: safe, socially distanced, and not for everyone.

As Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated “Tenet” prepares for its upcoming worldwide release, Warner Bros. is pursuing a different kind of screening plan for members of the press. When the secretive project is finally shown, screenings will be safe, socially distanced — and not for everyone.

Two sources close to Warner Bros. confirmed that press screenings will take place for the film, but it will not screen in markets in which theaters are not currently open. For the moment, that means that “Tenet” won’t be shown to press in major markets like New York City or Los Angeles, where both theaters and smaller screening rooms remain closed.

The studio will adhere to the current safety regulations in place from respective local and state authorities for each screening. Safety is said to be paramount to the studio, given the current state of the world and the ongoing pandemic. Representatives are planning to reach out to individual members of the press to gauge their comfort level with various options before setting official screening dates, times, and locations.

That means “Tenet” could screen for press in a variety of ways, from an IMAX theater screening with a handful of members of the press at a time to smaller screening rooms potentially hosting one person at a time. The traditional all-media screening — where hundreds of journalists gather to see a film in a massive theater — is not an option, and Warner Bros. has taken it off the table indefinitely.

While most IMAX theaters are currently closed, as they are predominantly owned by national chains that are not open at this time, there is a possibility the film will screen for press in markets with IMAX theaters, but don’t count on Nolan’s IMAX preference to win the day.

For the moment, more than 80 percent of U.S. markets can screen “Tenet” on opening day, so the studio is putting its resources into evaluating those options. Only Arizona, California, New Jersey, and New York are currently off the table; that leaves major markets such as Boston, Chicago, and Miami as viable for now.

Sources close to both WB and Nolan say the filmmaker is leaving the screening plan up to the studio, though he is known to micromanage the theatrical experience in such meticulous fashion that it’s safe to assume there won’t digital links available to domestic press.

Given the current release schedule for the film, members of the press in Europe are likely to see it before American journalists. “Tenet” will open in over 70 countries worldwide starting on August 26. Major territories will include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The film will open in the United States over Labor Day weekend in select cities.

The studio had originally dated the film for global release on July 17. Two release delays were announced amid the coronavirus pandemic: The first pushed “Tenet” to July 31, and the second moved it to August 12.

The newest release plan, announced late last month, expanded on a statement Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich issued July 20 when it temporarily removed the film from its release calendar, saying the studio would not be giving the Nolan tentpole a “traditional global day-and-date release.”

As with so many elements of the “Tenet” release, this is all subject to change, but the intent remains the same: “Tenet” will be seen in theaters.

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