This is probably not the glorious return to movie theaters Christopher Nolan wanted.

According to numerous media reports, Nolan wanted his new film Tenet to be the movie to reopen theaters after their forced closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although a couple of smaller films have debuted prior to Tenet, Nolan basically got his wish, with the film opening wide in roughly 2,800 theaters around the country. In the end, the movie made an estimated $20 million domestically over the weekend — which is the smallest opening of Nolan’s career since 2006’s The Prestige. Even Nolan’s first Hollywood movie, Insomnia, fared better on opening weekend.

Here’s how Tenet stacks up with all of Nolan’s opening weekends, according to The Numbers:

  1. The Dark Knight Rises - $160.8 million
  2. The Dark Knight - $158.4 million
  3. Inception - $62.7 million
  4. Dunkirk - $50.5 million
  5. Batman Begins - $48.7 million
  6. Interstellar - $47.5 million
  7. Insomnia - $20.9 million
  8. Tenet - $20.0 million
  9. The Prestige - $14.8 million
  10. Memento - $235,488
  11. Following - $1,636

There are certainly some important caveats to these figures. In many parts of the country, theaters are still closed — and in those parts of the country, Warner Bros. wouldn’t even let drive-ins show the movie, diminishing Tenet’s potential audience significantly. Theaters that are open are limiting ticket sales to ensure social distancing. And there have been enough warnings from health experts who insist going to the theater is “not a good idea,” that even in areas where cinephiles could go to the movies, they may have decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

Of course, no one forced Nolan and Warner Bros. to release the movie this weekend, or to only make it available in theaters instead of on premium VOD. And there’s at least one sign that audiences that did come out didn’t particularly love it: Tenet earned a CinemaScore of B, which is generally pretty low by the company’s standards. That suggests that a lot of viewers were more frustrated and confused by Nolan’s trippy new thriller, instead of pleasantly puzzled.

Still, Tenet is already nearing $150 million worldwide in ticket sales. In most times, that would hardly qualify it as a blockbuster. But under the circumstances, it could be worse. If you’re curious about what it’s like to go to a theater during the pandemic, see our report right here.

Gallery — Every Christopher Nolan Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best:

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