Will WB gamble, keep ‘Tenet’ for July 17 release?

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in Tenet / Warner Bros.

It’s been about seven weeks since our movie theaters were shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just last week some theaters in states like Georgia and Texas were cleared to open back up, but few are doing so. That’s not a lot of new films for exhibitors to show.

We are 10 weeks away from the tentative release date for the first movie that’s expected to be a blockbuster, director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on July 17.

Warner Bros. has kept “Tenet” stuck there because Nolan (“Inception,” “Memento,” “The Dark Night”) wants his film, which stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh, to be the movie that brings fans back to the theaters.

Nolan has kept information about “Tenet” close to the vest. It’s been described as an action epic involving the world of international espionage.

While the trailer is compelling, I couldn’t tell you what the movie is truly about from the action shown, other than to repeat that the characters must stop a fate that’s described as worse than a nuclear holocaust.

If the film is to stay on that release July 17 date, WB has to start ramping up its marketing campaign soon. That’s a real risk to take when most theaters remain closed down in the early days of re-opening the economy which was all but halted because of the highly infectious nature and debilitating effects of the virus.

Marketing a movie like “Tenet” is a multi-million dollar investment. Studios routinely spend three-fourths of a film’s production budget to market a movie.

“Tenet” reportedly cost $205 million to make, which would put the marketing campaign at around $115 million. That is a chunk of change to drop when a studio is not sure how many theaters will be open on July 17.

Ten weeks is a long time. We really have no clue what our societal landscape is going to be like on July 17. We could be pulling out of this mess or stuck further in the hole.

Even if theaters are up and running across the nation, how many people will be ready to rush into crowded room to sit next to strangers at that point?

It was awkward enough to negotiate the armrest situation before. What’s it going to be like in our brave new world?

It’s likely that theaters will be working under reduced occupancy at that time to maintain a level of personal distancing. So maybe the armrest thing won’t be a big deal. However, is it wise to release a movie that cost $205 million to make during a time when theaters can’t be full by a governor’s order?

Not doubt WB and Nolan would love for “Tenet” to be the film that revives the movie-going experience, but the big question is will it even be in position to do so if it does open July 17.

Word from the major trades is that WB will make the call as soon as today whether to stick with the original opening for the movie or to push it back.

If WB does push the release date back, would it be for a few weeks, a few months, or maybe until next year?

Disney has its live-action remake of “Mulan” set to open a week later on July 24. Disney has to be asking the same questions about this film which was originally set to open March 27. WB also has “Wonder Woman 1984” in the pipeline for an Aug. 12 release. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

HBO Max undercuts Netflix’s price point

HBO Max is the forthcoming streaming service from Warner Bros. that goes live May 27. It basically takes the HBO Now streaming service and loads it up with a ton of content from the vast Warner Bros. production library as well as offering a bevy of new original programing under the HBO brand.

To me the streaming service looks like a winner, particularly because of WB’s huge library of classic films. But the problem is the proliferation of “must-have” streaming services.

Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, CBS All Access, and others, can my wallet afford another service? What can I live without to add HBO Max?

The good thing is that if you are an HBO Now subscriber your subscription will automatically be upgraded to HBO Max. Unfortunately, that’s not the case if you receive HBO as part of you cable package. Of course, you could drop it from your cable package and sign up for HBO Now.

That’s a hassle, but there is actually is some monetary value to doing it soon.

HBO Max is regularly priced at $14.99 a month, the same as HBO Now. However, if you sign up for HBO Max now, you get the first year for $11.99 a month and get instant access to HBO Now before it converts to HBO Max on March 27.

It’s a limited-time offer, but it doesn’t say when the deal expires. That price actually undercuts Netflix’s most popular pricing option by a dollar.

Now, there may be other special deals later or there might not be. Who knows? But I jumped on board last weekend since I had already decided to add HBO Max.

Now I have to decide if I’m going to hang on to Amazon Prime or Netflix or drop them. For what I like HBO Max and Disney Plus is the best streaming combination for me.

How about you?