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‘Tenet’ may offer a grim view of the future of movie theaters, AT&T CEO says

John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, said the future of movie theaters remains uncertain.

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JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON and ROBERT PATTINSON and in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action epic “TENET,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

John David Washington, left, and Robert Pattinson in “Tenet,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Melinda Sue Gordon, Warner Bros.

The future of movie theaters remains up in the air after the release of“Tenet,” with no consideration about whether people are ready to return to the big screen,John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent company AT&T, recently said.

What’s going on?

Stankey recently said during an earning reports that 130 new movies are under production right now during the coronavirus pandemic, Deadline reports.

But it’s unclear what the future of the movie theater industry looks like, especially after the release of “Tenet.”

  • “That’s still one of the things we don’t have great visibility on,” Stankey said “I can’t tell you that we walked away from the ‘Tenet’ experience saying it was a home run.”

Stankey said Los Angeles and New York not reopening all of their movie theaters remains a massive roadblock in releasing new films. It’s another road block on an already bumpy path to get people to return to cinema.

Still, Stankey said there were no regrets about “Tenet.”

  • Stankey said the upcoming holiday season will be the “next big checkpoint to see if we can move some content back into theatrical distribution.”

Bigger picture:

It’s been a weird year for movies. “Tenet”and “The New Mutants” are two of the few movies to be released during the 2020 box office since the pandemic began, and neither of them reached the top 10 for domestic releases. In fact, the 2020 box office hit list is mostly made up of 2019 films since people have been rewatching them in theaters.

Right now, the overseas box office remains an important piece of keeping the industry alive, according to Kendall Phillips, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University.

“So, at the moment, the overseas box office is really crucial, and we are seeing foreign companies — Chinese and, to some extent, Japanese — filling in where Hollywood would have been,” he told me.