The overseas box office roared back into action with the highly-anticipated release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. The Warner Bros. title earned over $53 million from 20 thousand screens across 41 markets, setting the stage for next weekend’s scheduled expansion in the United States.
The United Kingdom leads all markets with a $7.1 million haul from 3,114 screens, followed by France ($6.7M, 1,070 screens), South Korea ($5.1M, 2,228 screens), and Germany ($4.2M, 1,955 screens). The film registered the biggest debut for a Nolan title in 9 countries (including Hungary, Netherlands, and Ukraine). Tenet also set an industry record for the biggest Hollywood launch in Saudi Arabia, where it earned $1.47 million from 131 screens.
“We are off to a fantastic start internationally and couldn’t be more pleased,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in a press release. “Christopher Nolan has once again delivered an event worthy motion picture that demands to be seen on the big screen, and we are thrilled that audiences across the globe are getting the opportunity to see Tenet. Thank you to our exhibition partners for their tireless efforts in reopening their cinemas in a safe and socially-distanced way. Given the unprecedented circumstances of this global release we know we’re running a marathon, not a sprint, and look forward to long playability for this film globally for many weeks to come.”
Meanwhile, in North America, the domestic box office continued to show optimistic progress as Disney’s long-delayed The New Mutants opened to $7 million from 2,412 screens.
The domestic result is 58 percent below Boxoffice PRO’s final pre-pandemic forecast for the title, which was expected to open at $17 million prior to Covid-19. The current context for theatrical distribution is markedly different, however, given that 62 percent of the domestic market (in terms of grossing potential) is currently available to distributors. Several states have yet to reopen in the U.S., including parts of Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina. Major metropolitan markets outside of the states––such as Miami, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle––are also awaiting permission to reopen. This led our publication to revise expectations for this weekend’s opening frame to $7.5 million.
“It’s an encouraging start and another step on the way to a return of moviegoing here in the U.S.,” says Cathleen Taff, Executive Vice President of theatrical distribution, franchise management and business & audience insights at Disney.
Demographic data provided by Disney shows New Mutants skewed 66 percent male in its domestic debut, with moviegoers ages 18-24 (27%) and 25-34 (34%) leading admissions.
Taff characterizes the opening result as positive given the current market conditions. “We need to recalibrate all of our expectations given the competitive landscape we find ourselves in,” she says. “With markets still down and consumers just starting to see moviegoing as an option, we’re hoping to see it play out in a longer run than we would normally see.”
The film simultaneously opened in 10 material territories overseas––including France, Spain, and previews in the U.K.––adding another $2.9 million to the global haul for a $9.9 million worldwide cume. It finished fourth in France after taking in $1.5 million since opening on Wednesday. Over 90 percent of the French market is currently open and operating at restricted admissions capacity. New Mutants also earned $500k in a third place finish in Spain, where it also opened on Wednesday. Disney cites an 80 percent market capacity in the country, which is also operating at a reduced admissions capacity.
Originally scheduled for theatrical release in April 2018 by 20th Century Fox, New Mutants was shelved after Disney’s acquisition of Fox––only to see a global pandemic push it even further down the schedule. The film will expand to 20 additional overseas territories next weekend, including Australia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Finishing second in the domestic box office, Unhinged brought in $2.6 million from its third frame in North America and second weekend in the United States. The thriller now holds a domestic cume of $8.8 million as it heads into a Labor Day weekend expansion that could potentially include select locations in California.
While New Mutants and Unhinged welcomed audiences back to the multiplex, The Personal History of David Copperfield led the return of specialty titles to the big screen with a $520 thousand launch from 1,360 screens.
Searchlight Pictures stands out as one of the few specialty distributors to not have shifted any titles to PVOD during the pandemic, a strategy that head of distribution Frank Rodriguez cites as being central to the company’s identity. “We are a theatrical company and happy to be back in theaters,” he tells Boxoffice PRO. “It’s so meaningful for us to help get theaters open.”
Rodriguez credits that patience for what resulted to be an increased screen count for David Copperfield, “Cinemark, AMC, Marcus, Regal…they all asked for a maybe a few more runs than they normally would because they want to help get their theaters open,” he says. “We saw some pretty good results: we did well in cities like Nashville, Knoxville, Orlando, and Dallas. It’s a small measure of success, let’s be honest, because you’re only allowed to have maybe 25 to 30 people in a lot of these auditoriums, but a $400 per-screen average shows there’s some light as we head into next week’s expansion.”
Searchlight Pictures is expecting to book The Personal History of David Copperfield at 75 to 100 additional locations for Labor Day weekend.