Latest James Bond film lags behind predecessors as Covid-19 concerns persist

LOS ANGELES — James Bond finally faced an enemy he couldn’t shake at the box office, and the result was a draw.

The 25th installment of the Bond franchise, “No Time to Die,” opened for around $ 56 million in the United States and Canada after the film was delayed for more than a year due to Covid- 19. Even though auditoriums around the world have largely reopened, the lingering effects of the pandemic seemed to shake the film’s performance, which lags a bit behind its series predecessors.

In 2015, for example, “Specter” opened at $ 70 million, while the 2012 hit “Skyfall” premiered at $ 88 million. Of the five Bond films starring Daniel Craig as a secret agent, “No Time to Die” has the second slowest start.

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The Covid-19 seems in part to blame. Bond films in recent years have attracted an older audience than blockbusters produced by Marvel Studios or based on other characters generating sequels. This older demographic has proven to be among the most reluctant to return to the movies, which is why the recent releases “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” have exceeded expectations and attracted crowds.

“No Time to Die” has served as another measure of the state of the country’s theatrical affairs after a year of postponements and closures. ‘No Time to Die’ was among the first films to delay release as Covid-19 swept the world in March 2020, and its many subsequent schedule changes signaled that the pandemic would last longer than many expected. ‘had originally planned. Now his performances illustrate the growing difficulties ahead, as big-budget releases that rely on sales of all types of moviegoers only see certain demographics returning to auditoriums in pre-pandemic numbers.

United Artists Releasing, which distributes Bond films for its studio, MGM Holdings Inc., conducted an opening weekend audience survey in six cities and found that about a quarter of moviegoers who saw “No time to die “this weekend hadn’t been to a movie in 18 months.

“You have to get them used to coming back,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution at United Artists Releasing. “The 18-34 year olds dominate the box office now,” he said, and 57% of this weekend’s Bond audience was over 35.

In contrast, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which drew in young moviegoers, raised $ 32 million in its second week, bringing its total to $ 142 million. It was released by the Sony Group Body

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Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Abroad, the big recipes for “No Time to Die” were healthier. The film has grossed an additional $ 257 million so far in international markets, where MGM shares distribution tasks with Comcast Body

Universal images.

“No Time to Die” stars Mr. Craig in his final turn as 007. The actor is credited with revitalizing the franchise since he got the role in “Casino Royale” in 2006.

In franchise obsessed Hollywood, James Bond is still one of the big name properties, and the character was among the crown jewels of Amazon.com. Inc.

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the MGM acquisition, announced earlier this year. Tech company pays $ 6.5 billion, excluding debt, to legendary studio, best known for its so-called Golden Age Hollywood hits including “Singin ‘in the Rain” and more classics recent ones like “The Silence of the Lambs”.

But Amazon won’t control Bond, which is primarily run by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, half-siblings who in 1995 inherited the rights to the character from Ms Broccoli’s father.

The duo have a significant creative say in the franchise, including deciding who will step into 007’s shoes. Although Amazon’s purchase of MGM was seen as a doubling of its streaming strategy, the producers said that they were committed to keeping the James Bond films on the big screen.

During the months of coronavirus-related delays, rumors circulated around Hollywood that MGM could unload “No Time to Die” on a streaming service that would allow it to premiere at home, like other studios l ‘had done with major titles.

“We kept this film for a long time so that we could deliver it to where it was meant to be seen,” Lomis said.

Write to Erich Schwartzel at [email protected]

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