‘Tenet’ Continues to Score Abroad, But Stalls at Home in its Third Weekend; ‘Infidel’ Debuts at No. 3 and ‘Mulan’ Loses Steam in China
Now three weeks into Tenet’s highly anticipated North American campaign, Warner Bros.’ wannabe blockbuster continues to tell two wildly divergent tales at the box office. While the Christopher Nolan thriller starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, and Elizabeth Debicki continues to underperform at home, adding just $4.7 million in its third frame and bringing its domestic total to $36.1 million, it just keeps barreling along overseas, where it’s now racked up $203 million and counting.

As many other studios continue to postpone the releases of their splashiest 2020 titles, including most recently Universal’s horror film Candyman and STX Entertainment’s Gerard Butler-starrer Greenland, Warner Bros. instead chose to move forward with Nolan’s latest. Over the past three weekends, Tenet has been seen as a test case, gauging whether American moviegoers are ready to return to theaters despite the ongoing COVID pandemic. But so far that test has been a disappointment as Nolan’s film dipped another -29.9% from the previous weekend, managing only a $1,604 per-screen average in 2,930 theaters in North America.

However, Tenet continues to draw international ticket buyers, who have made up over 80% of the movie’s audience. Now playing in 52 markets globally, the PG-13 film saw its strongest turn-out in China, where it made $5.6 million in its third frame there. It also racked up $4.3 million in Japan, where it bowed this weekend. Still, all hope is not lost on the homefront. With no new big-studio releases on the horizon until 20th Century Studios' Death on the Nile on October 23, Tenet still has plenty of breathing room to add to its domestic numbers, especially as more cities re-open for business.

Finishing in the runner-up slot once again was Disney’sThe New Mutants. In its fourth week, the PG-13-rated X-Men spin-off brought in an additional $1.6 million in the US, dropping -23.4% from the previous week. The New Mutants is playing in 2,518 theaters and had a $635 per-theater average. Its domestic total now stands at $17.7 million. To date, the film has added $17.3 million overseas, bringing its worldwide total to $35 million.

In third place was Cloudburst Entertainment’s Infidel, which earned $1.5 million in its opening weekend. The R-rated espionage thriller starring Jim Caviezel was the inaugural film from the new distribution and production company founded by former executives from Pure Flix Entertainment, known for low-budget, religious-themed films. Produced by Dinesh D’Souza, Infidel had a $870 per-screen average in 1,724 theaters. It has not yet opened internationally.

In fourth place was Solstice Studios’ Unhinged with $1.3 million. In its sixth week of release, the R-rated road-rage thriller starring Russell Crowe played in 2,324 theaters and had a $870 per-screen average. The film has been one of the season’s biggest surprises at the box office, grossing an impressive $15.7 million domestically and $12 million overseas, bringing its global cumulative box office to $27.7 million.

In fifth was Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run with $210,000. The animated kids’ film, which climbed from the seventh-place slot last weekend, had an $804 per-screen average in 261 theaters. It has not yet opened internationally.

Elsewhere, the big box-office stories were the lackluster sophomore showing of Disney’s live-action Mulan in China, where it dropped off 72% in its second weekend, and the debut of Bleecker Street Media’s indie revenge-thriller The Secrets We Keep, which snuck into the Top 10 at number 8, with $89,955 in 471 theaters.