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'Tenet' loses No. 1 box office spot to Robert De Niro's 'War with Grandpa' as U.S. theaters continue to struggle

Tyler McCarthy
·2 mins read

After underperforming at the box office amid the coronavirus pandemic, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” was finally unseated from the top spot over the weekend.

Robert De Niro’s “The War with Grandpa” debuted on Oct. 9 and quickly topped Nolan’s science-fiction thriller in the U.S. with a box office gross of $3.6 million, marking one of the first new releases since March to usher in a crowd, albeit small, to the movie theaters.

According to Entertainment Weekly, “Tenet” was bumped to second place, earning $2.1 million in its sixth weekend in theaters across the country. The re-release of “Hocus Pocus” took third followed by “The New Mutants” and “Unhinged.”

The family-friendly comedy stars De Niro as Ed, a grandfather who moves in with his daughter and quickly finds himself in a struggle for patriarchal power with his young grandson, played by Oakes Fegley.

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As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the film was originally supposed to release in 2018 but was put on hold as it was a relic of the Weinstein Company. Its distribution was pretty much put on hold indefinitely amid the scandal that ultimately saw the disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein convicted of rape in New York City.

While “Tenet” is slipping on the charts in the United States, it’s not all bad news for the film. The outlet reports that it’s still grossing money overseas, giving it a grand global total of $323.3 million. However, it was previously expected to be a major summer tentpole before the pandemic scared studios away from releasing new movies.

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The dearth of new projects coming to the theaters forced Cineworld to close almost all of its Regal Cinemas locations in the United States as films like “Black Widow,” “No Time to Die” and “The Batman” were all moved to 2021.

The situation for theaters remains dire even weeks after dozens of filmmakers sent a letter to key members of Congress asking for financial support for the theater business. Although about three-quarters of the country’s theaters are open, even amid the pandemic, key markets in New York and California remain closed. To make matters worse, it seems that U.S. customers are simply too weary of risking an outing to the theater.

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This is compounded by the fact that movies like “Mulan” continue to find distribution alternatives such as video on demand.

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