Audience word-of-mouth is in on Christopher Nolan's time-bending return to screens "Tenet." According to CinemaScore, which polls audiences to grade films on a scale from F to A+, "Tenet" has received a B rating. That's not a death knell, but it's likely below expectations for audience-beloved Nolan and "Tenet" distributor Warner Bros., already fielding mixed reviews for the movie starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson (including from IndieWire). It's Nolan's lowest since "The Prestige," one of the filmmaker's more modest-grossing, and also more modestly budgeted, efforts.
To be fair, the "B" stamp is also the first CinemaScore we've seen in some time, though "Words on Bathroom Walls"(2020) did score an A. (CinemaScore also reportedly doesn't list movies on less than 1,500 screens on its website. "Tenet" is right now on about 2,800 screens in the United States.)
Reviews, meanwhile, have been scattered between accusing the film of being overly complicated in its conceit combining espionage and science-fiction, and hailing "Tenet" as a messianic return to theaters. Audiences are reportedly also being challenged by the movie's sound mixing. "Tenet" also packs in a lot of exposition to explain its plot.
Per IndieWire's review, "What kind of picture is it? Big, certainly: IMAX-scaled, and a hefty 150 minutes even after a visibly ruthless edit. As second comings go, 'Tenet' is like witnessing a Sermon on the Mount preached by a savior who speaks exclusively in dour, drawn-out riddles. Any awe is flattened by follow-up questions."
Even without New York or Los Angeles markets, "Tenet" is still faring well at the box office stateside and abroad. "Tenet" is projected to gross more than $100 million internationally over the Labor Day weekend, and is also currently ruling the box office in China, with more than $20 million so far.