Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Tenet’ and ‘New Mutants’ Race to ‘Save’ Cinemas

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It finally happened. After months of moving the goalposts, Warner Brothers decided to give up on hoping the United States would get it’s act together. The studio announced that they plan to forgo a domestic release and release Christopher Nolan’s Tenet next week, August 26, internationally; with a select few US cities the week after. But if history is any kind of judge that release date will most likely change.  

Oh, somewhere in those favored lands overseas, where the sun is shining bright, Tenet will play

The marquees will all shine brightly as theatergoers happily pay

Somewhere audiences are clapping and cheering as Tenet sells out every showing

But there is no joy in America – the mighty Christopher Nolan has left the building

That feeling you feel of how it’s not fair that the rest of the world gets to see one of the most talked-about and anticipated movies of the year is the same feeling the rest of the world has had when almost any movie comes out. We’ll be fine. 

But amidst all of this hoopla Warner Brothers studios announced another tweak in how things are done. The studio announced that it will be taking 63% of the ticket sales for the entire run. Usually, ticket sales are divided up, if not 50/50, at least something close to it. Even if the split isn’t 50/50 the thing that is always true is that the longer a movie is out the less the studio takes from the box office and the more the theater gets. It’s a sort of sliding scale of profit sharing. 

However, Warner Brothers stated in an email to theaters that in order to play Tenet they must agree to the studios getting 63% of the ticket sales for the entire run. I can’t wait to see how AMC adjusts their fifteen-cent ticket price to account for that. Goodbye buying tickets with quarters and hello having to take out a second loan just to get popcorn. 

I’ve talked about this before, both how ticket prices work and the changes theaters will have to make in the new reality post-COVID-19. In a cold, calculated way, what Warner Brothers is doing makes perfect sense. After all, in order to account for social distancing, which the studio says must be a requirement in order to play Tenet, theaters will have to cut down auditorium capacities and try to recoup profits by playing less movies in more houses. 

Christopher Nolan traveled the press circuit like a carnival barker, telling anyone who would listen how he was trying to save the cinemas. He claimed that it was the poor theaters that he was interested in saving, that’s why he was pushing for Tenet to open. Nolan was merely looking out for the little guy. He even set up a relief fund for arthouse theater employees during these tough times so as to help them make ends meet. Granted he was also sure in a hurry to get the employees in the megaplexes back to work so he could help kill off some of his most ardent fans. 

While Tenet will be postponed in the U.S. until September 6, there is one other movie that is scheduled to be released before then on, of all dates, August 26. At the same time Nolan will be forgoing America, the little movie that could, The New Mutants will be, once again, headed for theaters. Oh, imagine the sweet delicious irony if The New Mutants is the film that actually “saves cinema.”  

Josh Boone’s film has suffered as much as any movie could before the pandemic. By the time Governor Newsom called for a lockdown, Boone and his cast could hardly do little more than laugh. By that point, one the film’s stars, Maisie Williams, said in an interview “Who knows when the f*ck that’s gonna come out?” 

That interview was way back in March of 2019. Heck, that was so long ago we hadn’t even begun serious proceedings to impeach the sitting so-called president, yet. We were still just starting to naively embroil ourselves into the Mueller report. Heck, Disney had just finally come around to banning smoking at their theme parks. 

But for the cast and crew of The New Mutants it was merely a Tuesday. 

If any movie ever deserved a break from the cruel Machiavellian twists and turns of Murphy the Bastard’s Laws, it surely must be Boone’s poor, misbegotten film. If there’s anything America loves to pretend to love is an underdog. We don’t though, not really. Secretly we despise underdogs because they are, like us, unlucky and shunned by people we look up to. 

Who knows? We could find a cure to COVID-19 in the next week, then implement a surefire way to administer the new vaccine to every American. Maybe wages will increase by almost double what they were before the epidemic? America could become the shining city on a hill as we overcome centuries of previously ignored social problems! We could do all of that but then we would discover a new mite that feeds on the rare earth minerals that are used to produce hard drives with the mites having been found in every drive containing The New Mutants. The movie is just a plaything for the gods.  

But all of this, ALL of this, could change tomorrow. Because all it takes is some a-hole from Hermosa Beach not wearing a mask to sneeze into a salad bar to send us all back to the drawing board. In other words, as per usual, no one has learned a damn thing. 

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