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Christopher Nolan's Tenet heads to HBO Max on May 1

The time-twister is the latest blockbuster headed to HBO Max, despite its director's misgivings about the streaming service.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Christopher Nolan and John David Washington on the set of Tenet.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan may have called Max the "worst streaming service" last year, but that won't stop WarnerMedia from adding his latest film, Tenet, to its online service on May 1. 

HBO Max's Twitter account revealed the news on Saturday. 

Tenet was co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, which is part of HBO Max's parent company WarnerMedia. After the company announced last year that it would be releasing its entire 2021 Warner Bros. theatrical slate concurrently on HBO Max, Nolan criticized the decision.

"Some of our industry's biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service," the director said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in December. "Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker's work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don't even understand what they're losing."  

Long a proponent of the cinema experience, Nolan wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post last March about the need for movie theaters to return after the pandemic. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia-owner AT&T, told CNBC last summer that Nolan's preference for the theater played a role in the decision to initially release Tenet solely in cinemas.

"Certainly, Christopher would like it to be validated," he said. "That's how he wants that piece of work that he's done to be seen by moviegoers, and that's why it's going to be something that shows up in a theater."

Tenet went on to gross $363 million worldwide, less than half what previous Nolan movies such as Inception and Interstellar brought in. The director admitted in an interview with the LA Times that it hadn't "lived up to pre-COVID expectations" but argued that studios shouldn't use that as an excuse to "make exhibition take all the losses from the pandemic."

For WarnerMedia, the addition of Tenet will mark yet another big blockbuster for its growing streaming service. On March 18 the studio released Zack Snyder's Justice League, with upcoming titles for the platform including Godzilla vs. Kong on March 31 and Mortal Kombat on April 16.

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