tent·pole | \ˈtent-ˌpōl \

Definition of tentpole 

: a big-budget movie whose earnings are expected to compensate the studio for its less profitable movies

Examples of tentpole in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The weekend's two new films were a pair of smaller titles hoping to serve as counterprogramming to tentpole fare, Sicario: Day of the Soldado and Uncle Drew. Pamela Mcclintock, Billboard, "Weekend Box Office: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Dunks 'Uncle Drew,' 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' With $60M," 1 July 2018 Skyscraper will open between two major Chinese tentpoles: Jiang Wen’s Hidden Man (July 13), which Warners is co-producing, and Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (July 27). Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson’s 'Skyscraper' Scores Rare China Release Date During Summer Blackout," 27 June 2018 These albums were meant to exist in the multiple, registering as events and as cultural tentpoles: constantly played and constantly argued over. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Beyoncé and Jay-Z's Everything Is Love Marks a New Step in the Album's Evolution," 19 June 2018 Generally speaking, males make up 60 percent or more of those buying tickets to see a tentpole such as Ready Player One, which was released in April, Solo or this summer's Avengers: Infinity War on opening weekend. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ocean's 8': How the Female-Fronted Film Stole the Box-Office Crown," 11 June 2018 The new Joker project's budget is in the $55 million range, says The Hollywood Reporter, significantly lower than the typical tentpole superhero movie. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Joaquin Phoenix's Joker origin story is officially on and fans are irked," 10 July 2018 First off, the big news: The Sandwich Invitational, a tentpole event that debuted with the first Feast in 2012, is no more. Michael Russell, OregonLive.com, "Feast Portland announces 2018 lineup of events, chefs -- tickets go on sale June 8th," 31 May 2018 Wonderland is the latest splashy title for the streamer, which has steadily been attracting more blockbuster talent since debuting it's first tentpole title with the Will Smith-starrer, Bright. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg Reteam for 'Wonderland' at Netflix," 26 June 2018 Ocean's 8, a mid-size movie that cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow $70 million to produce before marketing, is a reminder that fanboys aren't the only demo that studios should obssess over when plotting tentpole-laden, summer slates. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ocean's 8': How the Female-Fronted Film Stole the Box-Office Crown," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tentpole.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of tentpole

1987, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tentpole

Statistics for tentpole

Last Updated

27 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tentpole

The first known use of tentpole was in 1987

See more words from the same year

Comments on tentpole

What made you want to look up tentpole? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!