COVID-19

“Tenet” took in $146m worldwide. So …. is that great? Or terrible?

Jasmine Garsd Sep 8, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A billboard for Christopher Nolan's film "Tenet" in West Hollywood, California, in August. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

“Tenet” took in $146m worldwide. So …. is that great? Or terrible?

Jasmine Garsd Sep 8, 2020
A billboard for Christopher Nolan's film "Tenet" in West Hollywood, California, in August. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The sci-fi thriller movie release, “Tenet” has so far taken in a decent $146 million at the box office worldwide. That’s including this weekend’s U.S. and Canada premier, which raked in $20.2 million. On any given day that’s chump change, but with a pandemic still raging, experts say “Tenet” did OK.

Some say, it might even be a sign that Hollywood is on the rebound.

Arun Sharma, professor of marketing at the University of Miami, said there are two lessons from the last couple of months in movie premieres. First: some movies are just better off premiering on streaming only. “If it’s a children’s movie, the data is very clear: launching it is a good idea,” Sharma said. Which is why Disney Plus just released it’s live-action “Mulan” on it’s platform for $30.

But Sharma said there’s not a lot of data on how movies for grownups do with a streaming premiere.

Which leads to lesson number two: if it’s not a kids film, push the release date back. Because while “Tenet” did fine, most movies aren’t going to be these star-studded, highly anticipated juggernauts, led by acclaimed directors. And plenty of films that are all that and then some, have still been pushed back, from “Wonder Woman 1984” to “Top Gun: Maverick.” (That’s right, Top Gun fans, you waited over 30 years for a sequel, you can wait one more, until 2021.)

Frank Patterson, president of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, where Marvel movies are filmed, is cautiously optimistic. Right now production is only resumed at around 30% capacity at his studios. But he says the industry constantly weathers challenges. Actors drop out. Deals die. “Our pivot skills are legendary in the movie business.”

There’s optimism out there. “Tenet” cost $200 million to make, and has so far grossed close to $150 million worldwide — almost breaking even.

And these days in Hollywood, that’s a good look for opening weekend.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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