Warner Bros. delays Tenet, which was set to be the 1st big movie back in theaters

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Hollywood is still hoping there can be an abbreviated summer movie season this year, but its unofficial start date has just been kicked slightly down the road.

Warner Bros. announced on Friday that Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which was set to be the first big blockbuster movie released in theaters after they widely reopen following coronavirus closures, is being delayed, though not by too long: the film is moving from July 17 to two weeks later on July 31.

Tenet had always been scheduled to open in July, and the studio didn't push it from that date even as other big summer films abandoned their releases when theaters closed. It thus became the blockbuster that would welcome audiences back to theaters should theaters actually be able to widely reopen by mid-July after closing due to the pandemic, though in recent weeks, questions swirled about whether that timeline was feasible and whether Warner Bros would be forced to abandon the date.

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The studio now has done so, although it still evidently believes a July opening is possible, despite coronavirus hospitalizations rising in numerous states.

Deadline previously reported that Warner Bros. needed at least 80 percent of movie theaters globally to be reopened by Tenet in order to maintain the July 17 date, with this including theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where about 25 percent of a film's opening weekend is typically grossed. AMC Theaters, the nation's largest movie chain, announced earlier this week it expected "almost all" of its U.S. theaters to be reopen in July, although whether New York City can be included in that is an open question.

Shortly after delaying Tenet, Warner Bros. also pushed Wonder Woman 1984 from August to October.

Now, all eyes are on whether Disney will delay Mulan's release date, because if not, that would now become the summer's first big blockbuster; it's currently set for July 24.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.