We don’t know how Tenet has been fairing in North America since Sunday, when it ended its 11th day with $29.5 million for a $207 million global cume. The film has earned around $58 million as of Saturday in China, and we’ll know by tomorrow if it’ll end up closer to $240 million or $250 million worldwide as it nears the end of its first month in global play.
But in box office totals we actually have at the moment, Infidel topped The New Mutants on Friday, earning $530,000 in 1,724 theaters. Writer/director Cyrus Nowrasteh’s drama, about a State Department official (Claudia Karvan) who finds little help in official channels where her blogger husband (Jim Caviezel) is kidnapped and tried for espionage in Iran.
It’s the first narrative film produced by conservative documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s production company. It’s not literally a faith-based drama, but it’s playing to similar crowds with (under normal circumstances) similar grosses to the persecution-specific likes of God’s Not Dead 3, October Baby and Last Ounce of Courage.
As noted over the years, there is usually a large gulf in terms of commercial reception between the smaller and more confrontational faith-based dramas and the more mainstream Veggie Tales-style Christian dramas, released by Fox, Sony and Lionsgate, like Heaven is For Real, Breakthrough, I Can Only Imagine and The Shack. So, in that sense, the likely $1.5 million opening weekend for Infidel is entirely normal. It just looks bigger because there’s nothing else in the marketplace this week.
Meanwhile, The New Mutants earned another $470,000 (-23%) on its fourth Friday, bringing its 22-day domestic cume to $16.58 million. We can expect an over/under $1.41 million (-31%) Fri-Sun frame, pushing its 24-day domestic total to $17.52 million. The hold is solid, but the numbers are still quite low, meaning that Josh Boone’s oft-delayed X-Men spin-off is going to remain one of the lowest-grossing DC/Marvel superhero movies of all time.
It’ll be ahead of only Steel ($1.72 million in 1997), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ($5.62 million), Punisher: War Zone ($8.8 million in 2008), Jonah Hex ($10.55 million in 2010), Supergirl ($14.3 million in 1984) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace ($15.7 million in 1987) and Howard the Duck ($16.3 million in 1986). Yes, the circumstances of its release played a big part in that (it may well have opened with $20-$25 million had it debuted in any of the previous release dates), but them’s the breaks.
If Tenet drops another 29% from its $6.7 million second-weekend gross (a reasonable presumption considering New Mutants’ hold), it’ll earn around $4.8 million to top the weekend box office with an 18-day cume of around $35 million. At this point, the final grosses of The Prestige ($53 million in 2006) and Labor Day champ Halloween ($58 million in 2007 from a $30.5 million Fri-Mon debut) may not be within reach without California and New York theaters.
Those states will presumably reopen eventually, but to what extent will they want to with nothing “big” save for Tenet between now and (at best) Death on the Nile on October 23 and Black Widow on November 6? And that’s presuming Kenneth Branagh’s murder mystery and the MCU prequel don’t get delayed again. At least Tenet is the biggest Labor Day release ever in global grosses…