Weekend Box Office Forecast: Tenet and Holdovers Aim to Continue Trend of Soft Declines

Photo Credits: Hoyte van Hoytema & Warner Bros. ("Tenet"), dir. Christopher Nolan

We’re still in the early weeks of what’s becoming obvious will be an extended recovery process for the domestic box office. Once again, all eyes will focus on how Christopher Nolan’s Tenet holds up in its third full domestic frame (fourth if counting Canada’s debut in late August).

The Warner Bros. tentpole eased just 29 percent last weekend with a $6.7 million domestic frame, coming off what’s projected to have been a $9.44 million three-day wide release as part of the Labor Day frame. That brought the North American total to $29.5 million through 17 days of play.

The combination of official studio reporting and reverse-engineering to determine the film’s true first wide weekend gross proved to be in line with (and on the higher end of) our projections detailed in last week’s forecast.

Tenet‘s domestic performance has become the target of divisive opinions regarding the progress of theatrical re-openings in the United States, exacerbated by the studio’s delay of Wonder Woman 1984 from October 2 to Christmas Day later this year.

By contrast to the muted domestic start, Nolan’s epic has earned $207.5 million globally through this past Sunday — meaning its $178 million from international earnings represents nearly 86 percent of the film’s total box office thus far.

Hopes on the domestic front were certainly for a higher result by this point, but the soft decline last weekend was the first verifiable evidence that expectations for a leggy run were beginning to come to fruition. Similar declines have been seen in other overseas markets throughout their second and third weekends.

The top three markets stateside — New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco — remain closed entering the coming weekend, which means the momentum of cinema restarts is leveling out for the time being.

NRG reported that, as of last weekend, only 41 percent of surveyed moviegoers were aware of theaters having re-opened, up only slightly from 33 percent the week before. The slow-burn of communication in suburban and urban areas is another contributing factor to the slow domestic restart thus far.

Nevertheless, an open market with no significant competition this weekend means Tenet should post another strong hold — especially in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and other premium screen formats where the film is performing best.

As of Wednesday, September 16, Warner Bros. is continuing to withhold daily box office updates on the film.

New Mutants and Unhinged Continue Soft Week-to-Week Drops

The New Mutants and Unhinged additionally showcased strong holds last weekend and are continuing that trend to start this week. The Marvel pic from 20th Century Studios declined just 18 percent from Tuesday to Tuesday. Unhinged is estimated to have posted a similarly modest decline (perhaps stronger), though Solstice Studios had not updated with Tuesday’s grosses at the time of this report’s writing.

Meanwhile, Sony / TriStar’s The Broken Hearts Gallery eased 55 percent from Sunday to Monday before increasing nearly 27 percent on Tuesday. Both figures are encouraging as far as preliminary daily earnings go, especially for a film that’s leaning heavily toward young women and whose target audience is back in school at this point.

The lone wide opener this weekend will be Infidel from Cloudburst Entertainment. As has been frequently noted, any pre-release tracking during this time is volatile at best, especially for non-major studio releases such as this one.

No studios have confirmed location counts as of Wednesday evening, though we’re expecting most titles to remain relatively flat with last weekend’s totals.

Estimated Domestic Location Counts (Updated After Initial Report)

  • Tenet (2,900+; unconfirmed)
  • The New Mutants (2,518)
  • The Broken Hearts Gallery (2,221)
  • Infidel (1,724)
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield (1,007)
  • Words on Bathroom Walls (797)
  • Bill & Ted Face the Music (607)
  • The Way I See It (124)
  • The Nest (301)
  • Rent-A-Pal (33)

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, September 20 % Change from Last Wknd
Tenet Warner Bros.

$4,800,000 –

$36,500,000 – $37,600,000

-28% to -12%

The New Mutants Disney / 20th Century Studios $1,500,000 $17,550,000 -28%
Unhinged Solstice Studios $1,150,000 $15,500,000 -24%
The Broken Hearts Gallery Sony / TriStar Pictures $730,000 $2,300,000 -35%
Infidel Cloudburst Entertainment

$100,000 – $400,000

$100,000 – $400,000

Words on Bathroom Walls Roadside Attractions $195,000 $2,220,000 -15%
Bill & Ted Face the Music United Artists Releasing $165,000 $3,000,000 -44%
The Personal History of David Copperfield Disney / Searchlight Pictures $130,000 $1,630,000 -33%

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend grosses.

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Photo Credits: Hoyte van Hoytema & Warner Bros. ("Tenet"), dir. Christopher Nolan