Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Will ‘Tenet’ bring back movie audiences?

“...In some respects opening this movie in July seems like a very smart move because the landscape is so wide open.... [b]ut anyone who says they know what is going to happen is lying.”
Okay, it’s been a few months.

I’ve done my best to maintain my spirits. Not easy, as I’m sure you’re aware. Virginia and I talk every night—needless to say I miss her terribly—she about all the online music groups she’s joined; me about the new novel I’m writing. It’s a rewrite of a SF script that was gonna be a graphic novel years ago. It’s going well. Baseball no longer seems relevant for fiction and I’m not sure I have the will to return to my previous manuscript anyway.

I’ve kept this blog active with talk about old movies, and it’s been helpful for me. My little world tour made me aware of films I never knew about before and others I would like to blog about at a later date. This month I’m gonna tackle westerns. I hope it’s been entertaining for you so far... but now it’s time to talk about the future.

We all want new movies again, among many other things—and yes, we accept as a given that they’re not a priority compared to essentials like health and safety—but we need movies too. Hollywood employs a whole lot of people for one thing, to say nothing of local theaters and their employees, and for another, the economy could use the financial boost. It appears to be a foregone conclusion that sooner or later, they will return, and somebody’s gotta be first.

Enter Christopher Nolan and Tenet.

The impression I get based on what I’ve read is that theaters may re-open in July. Here is a tentative list of movies currently expected to open this summer. As you can see, June is full of VOD and streaming releases, such as Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (Netflix), Kenneth Branagh’s Artemis Fowl (Disney+) and Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island (VOD), but July will be the big test. Right now Hollywood is looking to Nolan to be the one to bring people back to theaters, even if it means observing the new social distancing protocols, with his new SF thriller, in a similar vein to his mega-hit Inception.

Will the world be closer to eradicating the Virus by July? If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here blogging about it. Will the world be at least safe enough to return to theaters by then? That’s the billion dollar question, isn’t it? Like Nolan, I believe in seeing movies in theaters, with an appreciative audience. I would see Tenet with my mask on if I had to (though eating popcorn will be tricky). As for other movies, I might have to make some hard choices. Wonder Woman 1984? Probably. Mulan? Maybe. Looks mighty good for a Disney film. Bill and Ted Face the Music? I don’t know.

See, I make these commitments now, but they’re all contingent on so many things: will I feel safe at the theater? Will the social distancing protocols be worth the trouble? Will I just say the hell with it all and not even bother? This is all-new territory, and as much as I want to continue supporting my local theaters—the Kew Gardens, Cinemart, the Squire Great Neck, not to mention revival venues like MOMI, Film Forum, the Loews Jersey—a lot is gonna depend on how comfortable I feel with the new status quo.

Last year I finally took baby steps towards watching new releases online instead of in theaters, and I’ll continue that trend for awhile longer, even if it means missing out on certain movies... but there are way too many streaming services that all look interchangeable. Here’s an early review of one of the newest, HBO Max, and it’s not exactly promising. Netflix is no longer unique, and the competition is heating up, but it’s enough for me.

So what does that leave me? Fewer new releases? I hope not—but like I said: all-new territory. For an insider’s deep dive on the possible future of Hollywood post-Virus, you MUST read this piece. (Thanks to Alicia for the link,)

How are you coping?


  1. When we come out on the other side of this mess the movie experience will be familiar and strange. The big decision will be to mask or to popcorn, and we all know that the odor of the corn is too enticing to deny.

    The baseball novel did its part by making you write and showing yourself what you can do. You are occupying your time well with the new project while I have reacquainted myself with the intricacies of the broom.

  2. I’ve done my share of spring cleaning too. I finally bid farewell to my old VCR, which I was keeping around for purely sentimental reasons. It served me long and well.

    A how-to writing blog I follow talks about “practice novels,” novels which you’d never release but serve a purpose by teaching you about long-form writing. I think I have to finally admit that my baseball novel, as much as I struggled and agonized for years over it, was that for me. I have higher hopes for this new one.

    And yeah, what will movie theaters be without popcorn?


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