Warner Bros. now plans to debut Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller “Tenet” in theaters on August 26 internationally and on September 3 domestically (for Labor Day weekend). This is the third time a release date has been set. I’d pencil it in.

Are people going to sit in theaters during the pandemic? WB obviously thinks so.

There must be a very good reason why WB doesn’t want to release this directly to streaming media. I just can’t think of one. They could use it to market HBO Max (which needs some serious marketing help) or — if they need to recoup the $200 million they spent making the movie — they could put a price on it (say $19.99) and do PPV/VOD. Most people have completely used up the internet and are craving new and exciting content.

Would enough people be willing to pay $19.99 for a DTC movie on opening day? If not, what’s the right price? Can a name-brand, $200 million piece of content distributed through streaming channels deliver a respectable ROI?

There may be another reason: ego. This is a “big screen” movie, and WB is not in the entertainment business; they’re in the “movie business.” Anyone want to share the railroad story with them?


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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.


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