John David Washington in Tenet

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Warner Bros

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John David Washington plays the unnamed ‘Protagonist’ in Nolan’s film

Sci-fi blockbuster Tenet has given a welcome shot in the arm to the UK and Ireland’s cinemas, taking £5.33 million in its first week on release.

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi spy thriller is the first major studio release since cinemas began reopening in July.

Tenet opened in more than 600 UK and Irish cinemas last week having had its launch delayed several times.

It also performed well internationally, taking $53.6m (£40m) from sites in the Middle East, Europe and South Korea.

The film, a time-bending action drama set in numerous countries, will open in the US, Russia and China later this week.

Warner Bros chairman Toby Emmerich said the studio “couldn’t be more pleased” by the film’s “fantastic start”.

He said British film-maker Nolan had “once again delivered an event-worthy motion picture that demands to be seen on the big screen”.

Face masks are currently mandatory in UK and Irish cinemas, which are operating at a reduced capacity due to social distancing guidelines.

Takings have been modest since they began reopening in July, with only one other title making more than £1 million over that period.

That film was the Russell Crowe road rage thriller Unhinged, whose takings now stand at £1.2m after five weeks on release.

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Skip Bolen

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Unhinged sees Russell Crowe play a driver with anger management issues

Tenet’s closest official competitor was Onward, which opened in cinemas before the coronavirus lockdown in March.

The fantastical Pixar animation made £185,028 last weekend, bringing its overall takings since release to £6.65 million.

Technically, though, it was outperformed by The New Mutants, which had a weekend of previews ahead of its release on Friday.

The X-Men spin-off made £222,000 from those preview screenings, according to figures posted by the Box Office Mojo website.

Tenet’s box office performance will be keenly scrutinised by rival studios as they prepare to unveil their own Covid-affected product.

That includes James Bond film No Time to Die, which is due to open in November having had its earlier release date in April put back.

A new trailer for the film, which will see Daniel Craig make his final appearance as secret agent 007, will be released on Thursday.

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