James Bond becomes cinemas’ newest hope for box office jerk

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(Bloomberg) – As consumers shun theaters over Covid-19, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. has attempted to find a new outlet for one of its crown jewels. The studio has spoken to streaming services, including Apple Inc. and Netflix Inc., about a cash offer for the latest unreleased James Bond film “No Time to Die.”

Luckily for movie fans and theater chains, the studio reverted to their original plan of bringing the image to the big screen. “No Time to Die” opened internationally this week with great reviews and impressive ticket sales, given the pandemic. This is the last Bond film starring Daniel Craig, who is stepping down from the role.


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“No Time to Die” grossed $ 22 million internationally as of Thursday. That includes $ 6.6 million Thursday in Ireland and the UK, where it is shown in a record 772 theaters. On October 8, theaters in the US will receive the must-have franchise film to entice customers in their place.

“Of all the movies that have been postponed due to Covid, this one has the most chance of being a big hit,” said Erik Davis, editor of the movie ticket buying site Fandango.com . “It is one of the largest global properties that currently exist in the theatrical space.”

“No Time to Die” is emblematic of the heartbreaking twists and turns the film industry has faced since the start of the pandemic. Studios have delayed their biggest movies for fear that no one will come and see them. Some have gone on streaming services. AT&T Inc.’s Warner Media, for example, releases all of its 2021 movies on the HBO Max service on the same day they hit theaters.

Now, however, the tide might turn. After the success of his Marvel superhero film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, which generated record sales for Labor Day, Walt Disney Co. decided to put the last six films in its lineup 2021 in theaters exclusively.

“No Time to Die,” which is distributed internationally by Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, has begun rolling out in some of Bond’s traditionally strongest markets in an effort to create a buzz. It all started with a premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the presence of Prince Charles, Prince William and their wives. It’s part of an international marketing blitz that includes advertisements on Zurich trams and giant digital billboards in Seoul.


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It is the first Bond film shot with Imax’s giant screen cameras and the first in 3D, which allows cinemas to charge higher prices. The producers created additional content to promote the film, including a podcast and a documentary on Apple TV + in which Craig talks about his Bond career.

Read more: Netflix star is punters’ choice for first Black 007

British bookmaker William Hill is offering a 100 to 1 odds of Craig winning the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Market forecaster Boxoffice Pro predicts an opening weekend in the United States and Canada of up to $ 85 million, which would mark the best start of the pandemic.

While theaters will get their share of “No Time to Die,” streamers have won in a way as well. Amazon.com Inc. agreed to buy MGM in May, leaving the super-spy’s long-term future in the hands of one of the world’s largest tech companies.

None of this was expected for Craig’s final run as Bond, a golden period for the franchise that delivered its first billion dollar box office hit with “Skyfall”. In the new movie, the villain is a terrorist boss named Lyutsifer Safin, played by Rami Malek.

The film was also designed to set the 60-year-old franchise, one of Hollywood’s biggest and most successful, for a new era. At one point in “No Time to Die,” a spy briefly takes the title 007, the first time a woman does. And rumors have been circulating for years that Bond is being played by a black actor, a victory for those clamoring for more diverse title characters in big movies.


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Offscreen drama has so far overshadowed these goals. “No Time to Die” was due at one point for release in April 2020. At the heart of the pandemic, it was delayed until November 2020.

Faced with the challenges that all independent studios face with streaming on the rise, MGM began to shop the picture, talking to the main services. Tech giants have said the price is too high and the film has been delayed again. The pandemic put such stress on movie chains that the world’s second-largest chain, Cineworld Group Plc, shut down for six months.

Next, the owners of MGM began to seek a buyer for the entire studio, ultimately settling Amazon’s $ 8.5 billion offer. The merger is subject to regulatory approval.

Bond probably still has a bright future. While Amazon’s Jeff Bezos may be tempted to develop the character, the family that made him a lasting force in Hollywood, led by Barbara Broccoli, still retain creative control. So far, they’ve largely shunned the idea of ​​over-marketing it, eschewing spinoff series and mostly sticking to the big screen spectacle, where car chases and gadgets shine the most.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP




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