Tenet” marks Christopher Nolan’s lowest graded movie since the time of “The Prestige.”It arrived on September the 3rd, returning some sort of normality to US cinemas. Still, the audience approval rating tells us that the film is not on the “Inception-level” contrary to pre-release popular belief.
The general opinion from cinephiles is out on the newly released Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending espionage film “Tenet.” A rating from CinemaScore has arrived for Tenet, which is based on the audience’s opinion of the film, which they had to express in the grades ranging from F to A+. Tenet has been given a very average “B” rating, which may not be an indication of “a bad film,” but it is well below the expectation that has been set by Nolan’s previous films. Considering the budget with which it was made ( roughly 225 million), it should not be considered a satisfactory performance from Christopher Nolan side as the audience approval via CinemaScore mathematically lies at the same level which he had received for the magic-thriller The Prestige; a film that was made on a very modest budget.
“B” stamp is a very rare rating that CinemaScore usually gives, indicating that the opinion regarding Tenet is heavily divided. A recently released film “Words on Bathroom Walls,” starring Charlie Plummer and Andy Garcia, got an A rating from CinemaScore.
A point to be kept in mind is that CinemaScore doesn’t rate movies that have been released in less than 1500 theaters, and Tenet reportedly has been released in 2800 theaters.
While some have lauded the tenacity of film producers to release the film as soon as the theaters have reopened and raved Warner Bros.’ efforts to get the theaters back on track, others have rejected the film because of its overly complicated plot and soundtrack (which hinders the comprehension of exposition during the dialogues).
Some of the high-profile critics have not been kind to Nolan this time and severely criticized Nolan’s choice of sound-mixing. The criticism is not new and has been around every time Nolan releases a film, Nolan himself addressed this issue in an interview at the time of Dunkirk release. He added that he doesn’t believe in making films to adjust with below-par technologies that theaters possess. He expects theaters to be up to date with all the soundtrack equipment they have. He also defended the accusation thrown at him that his soundtrack hinders the exposition of a plot through dialogues. He said that he does not “agree” with the general belief that dialogues are the only way to explain a plot; as a filmmaker, he has a lot of other techniques at his disposal which he uses to relay the story in “layers.”
However, fans of Tenet scattered all around the world, which is helping the film garner close to $100 million (at the time of writing this) in global markets, which excludes big metropolises like New York and Los Angeles. In China as well, Tenet has already crossed the $20 million landmark.
It is imperative to understand that suspension of markets in parts of Washington, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania has hurt Tenet’s numbers, which could have been much more under normal circumstances. However, Warner Bros. is hopeful that films like Tenet have the capacity to fix the spine of theaters around the world should and when they decide to open.
Most Nolan films have performed brilliantly at CinemaScore over the last two decades. All the film of the Batman trilogy managed to get a whopping A grade while Dunkirk blew everyone’s minds with A-, Nolan’s best works Inception and Interstellar got B+ while The Prestige and Insomnia (B) had been his least performing film up until the release of Tenet. To be fair with Nolan, and as you see in the above-mentioned film’s ratings, some of his best films like Inception and Interstellar have scored less than some of his other works like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises. It is also worth pointing out that in recent decades we have seen some mind-bending films like Fight Club, Donnie Darko, or even The Prestige who hadn’t performed well at the box office but they have created a fanbase that considers those films as “cult classic,” a sort of benchmark to evaluate other films. Some films take time to make space in the audience’s mind, but when they do, they usually dictate the creative standard in the industry.