STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
All summer long, Warner Brothers has been trying to release Christopher Nolan's new film "Tenet." It finally opens in theaters this week, starting overseas. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: It's all about timing with "Tenet." The action thriller stars John David Washington as a secret agent who inverts time to try to save the world.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TENET")
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: (As The Protagonist) Why does it feel so strange?
CLEMENCE POESY: (As Laura) You're not shooting the bullet; you're catching it.
WASHINGTON: (As The Protagonist) Whoa.
DEL BARCO: To open in theaters, "Tenet" had to bend time, too. It was originally slated to open in July but was repeatedly delayed as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered cinemas around the globe. Now that theaters have reopened, Warner Brothers is releasing the film in Canada, South Korea and much of Europe. Next week, it opens in select American cities, though not LA or New York.
PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: They wanted enough available theaters to make it worth their while that, over the long term, they can make their money back. This was not an inexpensive movie.
DEL BARCO: Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore, says the $200 million-plus movie is not the first big film to open overseas before domestically - think "The Avengers" or "The Fast And Furious" franchise. But he says "Tenet" is seen as the big American studio film that might lure people back to theaters around the world.
DERGARABEDIAN: This is an industry that's been blindsided by the pandemic. A lot of people are saying it's over; people are going to just stream movies now at home. That's not true. People are going back to the movie theater. And they want to feel safe and secure doing that. And "Tenet" is the big ticket, the big item that's the movie that everyone has been waiting for, and it's here.
DEL BARCO: Christopher Nolan, who shot "Tenet" on 70 millimeter and IMAX, made a direct TV pitch to China, where the film is set to open on September 4.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: As a huge fan of epic event cinema my whole life, I like nothing more than escaping to another world through the power of movies, and "Tenet" is our attempt to make as big a film as possible.
DEL BARCO: As for U.S. audiences, there are sneak previews August 30, and it opens wider September 3. So if you want to go back to the movies, set your timers.
Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.