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There’s no time like now for the big screen’s most enduring and famous spy — James Bond — to reemerge.
After its release was delayed numerous times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, No Time to Die will, at last, begin rolling out in theaters Wednesday, opening in a raft of major foreign markets ahead of its North American debut on Oct. 8.
The movie could clear anywhere from $80 million to $100 million from more than 50 markets by Sunday. However, as in the U.S., the foreign box office has yet to stabilize, especially in the wake of the virulent delta variant and a surge in cases, making box office projections difficult. Complicating matters is the fact that the Bond franchise counts older adults among its fans, a demo that is more reluctant to return to cinemas than younger consumers.
Word of mouth will play a key role in the movie’s ultimate playability. No Time to Die, which staged a dazzling world premiere in London on Tuesday night, is directed by Cary Fukunaga and marks Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as James Bond.
The cast of the film, from MGM and Britain’s Eon Productions, also includes Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes and Christoph Waltz, along with Rami Malek, Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch.
Universal has distribution duties overseas. In regards to major markets, the movie debuts in South Korea on Wednesday. It lands Thursday in the U.K., where it could open to $20 million or more, the best showing of the pandemic era. 007 films have always been huge in his home country, where the franchise is embedded deeply in British culture.
“The U.K. will be the outlier and will overperform,” says James Page of the MI6-HQ website — the biggest Bond fan blog — and editor of MI6 Confidential magazine. “The U.K. box office for Bond has always been big and has always had a very long tail, like months and months.”
Both Skyfall and Spectre overperformed in the U.K. (they now sit at No. 2 and No. 3 in the biggest British box office takes, respectively), with both smashing opening weekend records (only to be then broken by Avengers: Endgame).
By Friday and Saturday, No Time to Die will be playing in cinemas in many countries across Europe, Asia and Latin America. However, it won’t open in China until Oct. 29, and Australia’s release was last month bumped to Nov. 11 due to new lockdown restrictions. Australia — interestingly — is a key Bond territory, and took $50 million for Skyfall. “Given the population, it makes them the highest-grossing territory per capita,” notes Page, who suggests that piracy could play a role in countries where the release is delayed. At the same time, piracy could be mitigated since No Time to Die isn’t being released day-and-date on streaming.
The action-packed film runs two hours and 43 minutes, making it the longest title in the storied franchise and reducing the number of showtimes. It is the 25th Bond movie produced by Eon.
In early March 2020, No Time to Die became the first big-budget Hollywood tentpole to see its theatrical release delayed due to the pandemic (it was set to launch in cinemas in April of that year). It was subsequently delayed two more times.
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