Christopher Nolan’s Tenet held onto to its original release date longer than any other 2020 summer blockbuster. For months, Warner Bros. insisted the movie would open on July 17. Then, starting in mid-June, came a flurry of moves; first to July 31, then to August 20, then last week the movie was taken off the release schedule entirely.

At that time, Warner Bros. insisted they would “share a new 2020 release date imminently” for Tenet, while hinting that they were “not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release.” Today they made good on both of those statements, with the announcement of the latest (final?) release plan — with the movie opening internationally by the end of August, but not in the United States until Labor Day weekend.

Here’s the latest announcement from Warner Bros.: Now Tenet “will open in over 70 countries worldwide starting on August 26. Major territories will include: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Spain, and the UK. The film will open in the United States over Labor Day weekend in select cities.”

The fact that Warner Bros. is trying to release Tenet overseas — where many countries have brought their coronavirus cases way down in comparison to the United States — before they release it here is not shocking. The surprising part is that after all that drama last week about pulling the film completely off the schedule, they put it back on the schedule essentially two weeks later (or less, internationally). Why not just announce this plan last week? And do we really think things will be that much better in the United States in early September compared to late August?

They probably will not be, which is why Warner Bros. now wants to release Tenet in “select cities” on Labor Day — i.e. the few places where the virus is contained enough to allow theaters to open. This sort of staggered rollout is likely the only kind that’s remotely possible right now. Whether or not it will prove financially successful — or safe! — remains to be seen.

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