‘Tenet’ Arriving on HBO Max on May 1, Months After Nolan Slammed the Platform

“Tenet” wasn’t one of the many Warner Bros. titles to get a day-and-date release both theatrically and on HBO Max. But Christopher Nolan’s time-bending action thriller is finally coming to the growing streaming platform, with a premiere date set for May 1. If you prefer your Nolan in theaters wherever they are currently open, it’s also still playing (and in glorious 70mm) in various parts of the country.

The path to the eventual release of “Tenet” was a winding one for Warner Bros. and Nolan, as the film was initially scheduled to open in July of 2020 but dates kept shifting due to the pandemic, and it ultimately didn’t release in the United States until September 3. Still, the movie starring John David Washington as a special agent bending the laws of time and nature to stop an impending world war, managed to grab more than $363 million at the global box office. That’s not chump change.

The film’s success was due in part to Nolan’s adamance about “Tenet” releasing exclusively in theaters, and not getting shuffled straight to streaming. (Other new Warner Bros. titles, like Best Picture nominee “Judas and the Black Messiah,” have already come and gone from HBO Max.) When Warner Bros. late last year announced that it would be shifting its 2021 slate entirely to day-and-date release, Nolan reacted unfavorably to the news.

“There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone,” Nolan said. “In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy.”

“Tenet” is currently up for two Academy Awards: Best Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Production Design.

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