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After much fanfare, a change in director, a rewrite, several well-documented release delays and a major global pandemic, the world premiere for the 25th James Bond film kicked off at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall, just shy of six years since the last 007 installment, Spectre, was given the same treatment.
Joining Craig on the red carpet were co-stars Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, director Cary Joji Fukunaga and musician Billie Eilish, whose title song, “No Time to Die,” has already won a Grammy.
“I’m very proud of it,” Craig said of the film. “We don’t make it for ourselves, we make it for people to see in the cinema, and we’re going to watch it on a huge screen this evening, which is exactly where Bond movies should be.”
Adding a decent splash of royalty to the A-list mix were Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, who arrived last and were introduced to the cast just prior to the screening by Bond gatekeepers and Eon Production heads Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. They were then welcomed into the royal box by a 12-piece marching band onstage. The top brass from both MGM and Universal were also in attendance.
Tuesday’s world premiere — the biggest film premiere in the U.K. in several years and, definitely, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — required all guests to show negative COVID-19 tests before entering the venue, and guests were “strongly encouraged” to wear masks throughout, per the official invite.
When asked about her Bond experience, Lynch said when she auditioned for her character, Nomi, she initially didn’t know it was for a Bond role. “When I learned that she was a 00 agent and that she had agency in her voice and what we want to see onscreen as Black women, I thought, ‘I am so glad I get to read this script,'” she recalled. “I am so glad this is me and I get to have these conversations with people who will carry the franchise into a new era.”
Watch the red carpet coverage from 007’s official Facebook page, below.
The attention paid to No Time to Die‘s world premiere was unlike any in recent memory, not simply because of the popularity of the famous film franchise, but also due to the unprecedented level of turbulence the film has faced — including no less than five delays and a release date that many thought might never arrive.
As one Twitter fan noted, “I have a fear that halfway through No Time to Die, someone’s going to walk into the cinema screen, turn it off and announce it’s been delayed again,” adding that they won’t be “able to relax” until the credits roll.
First, the film was struck by a major switch at the helm. Danny Boyle, who had originally been attached to direct, left with writer John Hodge due to “creative differences” in August 2018. Fukunaga came on board a month later, with principal photography taking place from April to October 2019 and a release scheduled for April 2020.
Then the COVID-19 outbreak hit. When MGM and Eon announced on March 4, 2020 — with the marketing blitz already in full swing — that No Time to Die was being postponed until November 2020, it became the first of many major tentpoles to be impacted by the pandemic. It would face two further delays, effectively becoming the face of the cinema industry’s battle against a pandemic-impacted box office and prompting something of a domino effect of other films delaying their release dates. After its second postponement in October 2020, pushing the release to April 2021 (a date that would move again in February 2021), U.K. cinema giant Cineworld chose to close its theaters indefinitely, its CEO describing the latest No Time to Die delay as the “final straw.”
With Tuesday’s release, much of the industry, particularly in the exhibition world, is no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Craig said on the red carpet that the theater is exactly where a Bond film should be seen, and praised the cast and the director. “We’re so lucky to get him,” he said. “The cast on this film is just stupendous and Cary came along and I think has hit it out of the park. “
Lynch also lauded screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge for her work on the film and her character, Nomi, specifically. “I wanted audiences, young Black girls and just people around the world, to really explore what the strength of a Black woman is,” she said.
Asked if the role changed her, she replied: “The amount of confidence that I have … I feel I stand different, I move different.” Lynch also praised Craig for “shifting Bond into an era that makes sense for me as a young Londoner” and said he “is one of a kind” and “integral to the fabric of the franchise.”
Seydoux also thanked Waller-Bridge for her contributions to the film and said her own character will show “more complexity” and vulnerability. Seydoux described Craig’s take on Bond as that of “a feminist,” saying the recent films with him in the role have included “more interesting female characters.”
Questioned about Craig ending his Bond run, the star noted how Casino Royale was the first film in the franchise that she saw in the theater: “For me, he is the best, because he is the James Bond of my generation. He made him so complex and human, and I love also the fact that he is not perfect.”
Added Broccoli: “He exemplifies the hero,” but also “has brought a lot of humanity to the role.”
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