‘No Time to Die’ has muted US opening as COVID-19 fears linger

The new James Bond flick, “No Time to Die,” opened in US this weekend with less of a bang and more of a whimper.

The latest installment of Bond reeled in $56 million at the US and Canadian box office, according to MGM, the studio behind the spy movie, starring Daniel Craig as 007.

While that number was in line with MGM’s expectations of the film, which ranged from $55 million to $60 million going into the weekend, it was a rather muted performance, lagging previous Bond franchises.

“No Time to Die,” which is Craig’s last stint as Bond, has had a rough go of it during the pandemic. The film was delayed more than a year due to COVID-19, and even though cinemas around the world have largely reopened, concerns over the pandemic have tripped up the movie’s box office performance relative to other Bond flicks.

From left, Lashana Lynch, Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga attend the World Premiere of “No Time to Die” in London.
Getty Images for EON Productions

For instance, in 2015, “Spectre” opened to $70 million, while the 2012 hit “Skyfall” debuted at $88 million.

The results indicate some resistance to return to the movies while the coronavirus is still spreading, according to United Artists Releasing, which distributes Bond movies for MGM.

The theatrical company conducted a survey of opening weekend audiences in six US cities and found that roughly one-quarter of the moviegoers seeing “No Time to Die” this weekend had not been to a movie in 18 months.

A pedestrian walks past a billboard of the latest James Bond film "No Time To Die" in London
“No Time to Die,” which notched $56 million at the North American box office, lagged behind previous Bond flicks with stronger openings.
AFP via Getty Images

Erik Lomis, president of United Artists Releasing told The Wall Street Journal that younger customers were driving the box office.

“The 18- to 34-year olds are driving the box office now,” Lomis said, adding that 57 percent of this weekend’s Bond audience was older than 35. Typically, older audiences are Bond fans, but that demographic has been more reluctant to return to the theater.

“You have to get them used to coming back,” Lomis added.

Public  await first screening of "No Time To Die" while previews play at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on October 06, 2021 in Hollywood, California.
Younger moviegoers are driving the box office in the US, as older customers are still hesitant to return to the cinemas.
Getty Images

Nonetheless, Bond’s showing abroad has been much more robust.

“No Time to Die,” which is distributed abroad by Universal Pictures, has made $257 million from international markets so far — without the help of the top movie market, China. The flick is set to debut in there on Oct. 29.

With Bond’s North American muted opening aside, the box office overall has had a bumpy 2021. In recent months, it is finally showing strong signs of recovering after 18 months of movie theater shutdowns, reopenings at limited capacity and a dearth of new Hollywood films.

A pedestrian walks past a James Bond 007 logo above the entrance to Burlington Arcade in London
Despite a tepid start in the US, “No Time to Die” reeled in strong international ticket sales of $257 million in its opening weekend at. the beginning of October.
AFP via Getty Images

This year, the global box office is on track to gross $20.2 billion, up 68 percent from the pandemic-hobbled 2020 which brought in about $12 billion, according to Gower Street Analytics.

But 2021 is still far off from 2019’s record-breaking year, which reeled in $42.5 billion.


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