It has been a long time coming, but this week, one of the most hotly awaited films of the pandemic era is finally hitting cinemas after several Covid-induced date changes. MGM/Eon/Universal’s No Time to Die begins rollout at the international box office starting Wednesday (September 29) in Korea and adds such majors as the UK, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Spain through Friday, October 1. France and Russia join 007 over the weekend, in line with Canada and the U.S. China releases are dated for October 29. Given the state of closures in Australia, the typically robust Bond market won’t release until November 11.
There will be over 50 markets available overseas this session. Universal will handle offshore distribution for the first time. MGM still retains hubs like Scandinavia, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe.
It is difficult to predict the opening weekend for the 25th James Bond film, the last film to star Daniel Craig, as Bond films tend towards slightly older audiences and some markets remain in flux. Industry projections on No Time to Die are in the $90 million neighborhood this session — a number that we are likely to revise as more becomes clear over the coming days.
It would be a major win to have $90M. By way of comparison, and in like-for-like markets at today’s exchange rates, 2015’s Spectre did $123.5M; 2012’s Skyfall came in at $109.2M; and more recently, Universal’s latest Fast & Furious franchise entry F9 did $69.5M.
No Time to Die begins UK screenings at midnight on Wednesday night and anticipation in Bond’s home market is sky-high. Monday saw Odeon’s cinema chain report that over 175,000 tickets were pre-sold. The exhibitor claims that this will result in September 2021 attendance tracking 10% higher than in 2019. Bond is now in line to open its cinemas for the largest opening since summer of that year before the pandemic.
The reviews embargo on No Time to Die lifts a few hours after tonight’s world premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and while there is no doubt pent-up demand for the Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed movie that was originally due to release some 18 months ago, word of mouth and critical scores will play their part. The film is clocking in at just over 2 hours and 40 minutes, which could impact the number of screenings — though in London it is playing throughout the day. There are 20 shows listed at major Leicester Square venues for Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The UK is naturally Bond’s strongest performer, and set a series of records on Spectre which had a seven-day opening including previews; the No Time to Die rollout is different in that it begins on a Thursday. All play for the film was won by the UK, followed closely by France, Germany, France, Australia, and China. Several of those markets are going later on NTTD, however the next biggest for Spectre were Japan, Netherlands and Denmark — all of which release this week. The Netherlands, it should also be noted, has recently offered a health pass that allows you to enter cinemas.
In No Time to Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is cut short when Felix Leiter, his old CIA buddy (Jeffrey Wright), shows up to ask for assistance. Bond is forced to follow a villain with dangerously new technology as he attempts to rescue a scientist kidnapped.
Returning cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Wright, while newcomers to the series include Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.