"A Highly Unusual Situation": 'No Time to Die' Moves as Other Tentpoles Stay Put Amid Coronavirus Fears

James Bond No Time to Die Still 7 - Publicity - H 2020
Nicola Dove

'No Time To Die'

Disney and Paramount haven't shifted their films, while the National Association of Theatre Owners calls the James Bond film's move "very unique."

The new James Bond movie No Time to Die may be delaying its release because of the potential economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, but other high-profile Hollywood tentpoles are sticking to their release plans for now.

On Wednesday, MGM, Eon Productions and Universal said that the 25th installment in the storied spy film franchise will be delayed by six months, from April to November. The circumstances surrounding the move are virtually unprecedented and come as 70,000 cinemas remain shuttered in China and moviegoing dives in markets including South Korea and Italy.

For now, No Time to Die, which carries a budget of around $250 million before marketing, appears to be a lone wolf. That's reassuring news for cinema owners, who are already under assault from the rise of streaming services.

The film is of critical importance to MGM, which doesn't have the same stable of big branded IP that other studios boast. One finance source tells The Hollywood Reporter that the loss of revenue from the markets currently impacted by the coronavirus could shave off a fourth of all box office receipts for No Time to Die (i.e, instead of $1 billion, it could only take in $750 million).

“The movie business is simultaneously global and local. All theaters in the U.S. and Canada and the vast majority of movie theaters around the world remain open with strong ticket sales," says the National Association of Theatre Owners. "The decision to delay the release of the James Bond movie No Time to Die is very unique to that company and that movie."

"Conversations with other movie distributors confirm that a strong slate of global and local titles will continue to be released theatrically in all territories except those few countries most affected by the virus," NATO adds. "Cinemas will remain open around the world with strong attendance, in line with local conditions, and in communication with local health officials.”

No Time to Die was originally scheduled to make its world premiere in London on March 31, followed by its U.K. debut on April 2 and North American bow on April 10. Pulling a film four to five weeks before its release means suspending a pricey marketing campaign and informing talent that they will be needed later in the year. In this case, sources say many of the marketing and publicity activations were easily postponed, although it was too late to alter star Daniel Craig’s Saturday Night Live hosting gig this coming weekend. 

Meanwhile, Disney is sticking to its upcoming release calendar, which includes Mulan in late March and Black Widow in early May, according to a studio spokesperson. Insiders add that Disney debated pushing back Mulan — similar to No Time to Die — but ultimately opted to stay the course despite the continued theater blackout in China.

Nor is Universal — which is handling No Time to Die internationally — currently in talks to delay the release of the Fast and Furious installment F9, which is set to hit theaters in late May. Like No Time to Die, F9 is expected to reap the vast majority of its fortunes overseas, where the franchise is especially strong in Asia.

More immediately, Paramount has no plans of changing its release date for A Quiet Place Part II, which is set to debut March 20 in North America.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, No Time to Die marks the final outing of Craig as 007. The actor has told MGM and Eon that he will keep his schedule free in order to promote the new release date, sources say. 

"For James Bond, the move made sense," says box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. "But I would be shocked if films like Mulan or Black Widow moved. This is a highly unusual situation and unusual steps are being taken for some movies."