Tenet made more than £5 million at the UK and Ireland box office in its opening weekend, figures show.
Christopher Nolan’s espionage thriller starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson marks the first major film release since cinemas closed in March – and it is hoped that the British director, known for his time-bending dramas, will prove enough of a draw to encourage audiences to return.
While other films have already dipped their toes in the water, including Russell Crowe’s road-rage drama Unhinged, Tenet marked the first big blockbuster to debut post-lockdown.
The film – which also stars Sir Kenneth Branagh, Sir Michael Caine, Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Debicki – made £5,335,654 over the bank holiday weekend of August 28-30 across 611 cinemas, according to the BFI’s weekend box office report.
The total includes £2,044,248 from 590 previews.
Tenet’s closest official competitor over the weekend was Onward, which opened in cinemas before lockdown.
The Pixar animation featuring the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland made £185,028 last weekend, bringing its total since release to £6.7 million.
Cinemas, including Cineworld, Vue and Odeon, have introduced a raft of measures in a bid to keep people safe and make them feel comfortable returning to dark, enclosed spaces, including socially-distanced seating plans and enhanced cleaning, as well as changes to schedules to manage queues and avoid the build-up of crowds in lobbies.
The release of Nolan’s latest project has not been without complications, with its launch date pushed back several times.
However, the British director is a devotee of the big screen experience – Tenet is shot on 65mm and large-format Imax cameras – and he has described cinemas as “a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all”.
While other films intended for a big screen debut have instead moved to premium video on demand, such as Trolls: World Tour, the filmed version of Broadway musical Hamilton and Artemis Fowl, Tenet has held firm on its path to the multiplex.
Film fans will be hoping that Tenet’s shot in the arm for UK and Irish cinemas will pave the way for other studios to release long-awaited movies.
Other films currently slated for release this year include Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow and No Time To Die.