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"Tenet" is in search of a foothold within the US this weekend, whereas "Mulan" is controversial in China

Liu Yifei plays in Disney's "Mulan".

Disney

For months, "Tenet" and "Mulan" have been the focus of Hollywood's attention.

The Warner Bros. and Disney films were meant to be a return to normal. However, none of the films fully embodied this hope.

In the future, every weekend at the box office will be an important weekend. However, the stakes for this weekend seem to be particularly high.

"Tenet" got off to a solid international start, grossing $ 53 million on its debut in August. In the US, the opening of the film was more subdued at around $ 20 million. While this was the biggest domestic train for a new movie release since the pandemic theaters, it was hardly an overwhelming sign that the box office was back up.

There have been questions about whether these numbers actually cover the four-day Labor Day weekend or whether they include three days of preview in Canada ahead of the US debut. Unofficially, it is estimated that these screenings ranged from $ 3 million to $ 4 million in Canada, according to a report released Thursday by BoxOffice.com's Shawn Robbins.

Warner Bros. didn't release daily ticket sales, so it's unclear whether these previews are included in the $ 20 million total reported last weekend, which likely included both Thursday night shows and Monday sightseeing.

Robbins estimates "Tenet" could have made between $ 8.5 million and $ 10 million before Friday, September 4th. This means that the Christopher Nolan movie may only have made between $ 10 million and $ 12 million over the four-day vacation weekend, not between $ 20 million.

Warner Bros. officials confirmed to CNBC that analysts on Sunday included a preview of August 31 and the days leading up to the film's official US debut.

This math riddle once again highlights how difficult comparisons are during this pandemic. In pre-Covid times, a 40% to 60% drop in ticket sales from the opening weekend to the second weekend wouldn't be uncommon. However, during the pandemic, the percentage drops were much smaller, with some films like "Unhinged" only showing an 8% to 12% drop.

It should be noted that last weekend only around 65% of the theaters were open and the open cinemas had an audience of between 30% and 50%.

If Tenet sees that smaller percentage drop between weekends, it could be a sign that consumer confidence in cinemas is strong. However, if Robbins is correct and the $ 20 million is not representative of actual performance over the last weekend, then the comparisons made that weekend will be incorrect.

"This is a complicated and transitional period where consumer awareness and convenience are geographically just as important as the perception of big cities and their contribution to the box office shares," wrote Robbins.

Additionally, Tenet's muted opening could affect other films on Warner Bros. & # 39; Calendar. Earlier this week, the media began to speculate that Wonder Woman 1984 might be pushed back from its October release due to poor theater attendance.

On Friday, Warner Bros. announced that the film would be postponed until Christmas. "Wonder Woman" is expected to be the next big blockbuster mast on the calendar. Now there will be a two-month hiatus until "Black Widow" arrives in early November.

& # 39; Mulan & # 39; arrives in china

As for "Mulan", a detour from theaters in the US – and any other country with access to Disney + – meant that only customers in China and a handful of other Asian countries had the opportunity to see the movie on the big screen to see. The rest would have to pay $ 30 or wait until the end of the year to watch it for free on Disney's streaming platform.

"Mulan" was followed by lackluster reviews and political controversy. Based on a Chinese folk tale and a remake of a popular Disney animated film, the film had raised less than $ 7 million by 8 p.m. Local time in China according to the Maoyan online ticketing platform.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities had told major media outlets not to cover the film's release after Disney came under fire for exposing government agencies in Xinjiang, province, where Muslims were violated during the film's credits had thanked.

"Mulan was filmed almost entirely in New Zealand," said CFO Christine McCarthy Thursday during Bank of America's Virtual 2020 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. "In order to accurately portray some of the unique landscapes and geography of the country of China for this historical and historical drama, we shot scenes in 20 different locations in China."

"Now it is common knowledge that in order to film in China you have to get a permit, and that permit comes from the central governments, I think it's called the Publicity Department or something," she continued. "And it's well known in the film industry as well that it's a practice used around the world to recognize in the credits of a film where – in the credits of the film, you recognize the national and local governments that recognize it Allow them to film there. And so in Those were our credits – it recognized both China and locations in New Zealand. And I would just leave it at that, but that gave us a lot of problems. "

The film's lead actress, Liu Yifei, recently expressed support for the Hong Kong police force and launched boycott talks on social media.

Bad ticket sales seem to be largely the result of bad reviews that focus on historical inaccuracies and poor character development rather than politics, as well as easily available pirated copies of the film.

"Mulan's $ 200 million production budget wanted to go to China to complement the film's digital sales on Disney +. McCarthy had announced that the company plans to stop the streaming performance of" Mulan "in November to be discussed in its quarterly earnings report.

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