After a longer wait than he may have hoped, James Bond is finally returning to the big screen. For beleaguered movie theaters across the globe, it’s not a minute too soon.
“No Time to Die,” the latest entry in the British spy series, is expected to ignite the international box office and generate at least $90 million over the weekend. It debuts in 50 overseas markets, including the United Kingdom, beginning on Wednesday.
Ahead of its domestic launch on Oct. 8, the 25th entry in the Bond series will premiere in Korea on Sept 29, followed by Brazil, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on Sept. 30, and Japan, Mexico and Spain on Oct. 1. “No Time to Die” will open in 15 international markets, including France (Oct. 6), Russia (Oct. 7) and China (Oct. 29), throughout the next month.
More than usual, box office ticket sales will be tricky to predict. Bond has historically been a big draw to older audiences, a demographic that hasn’t been eager to return to theaters with the threat of new COVID-19 variants. At the same time, many international countries have capacity restrictions in place and some areas, including France, Italy and Germany, have been requiring ticket buyers to show proof of vaccination to go to the movies. Territories such as Korea, Japan, Australia and the majority of Southeast Asia reinstated stricter lockdown measures, meaning most multiplexes have been forced to close and those given permission to stay open have reduced hours of operation.
For “No Time to Die,” an opening weekend above $90 million would be impressive because it wouldn’t be far off from its latest franchise predecessors, 2015’s “Spectre” ($123 million debut internationally) and 2012’s “Skyfall” ($109 million debut internationally).
In plague times, it would also rank as one of the better starts for a Hollywood movie at the international box office. Recent tentpoles from major studios have launched overseas to mixed results. Disney’s “Black Widow” ($78 million) and Universal’s “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9” ($69 million) had the biggest debuts, followed by Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($58 million) and Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Dune” remake ($34 million). Ticket sales for several COVID-era Hollywood movies have suffered because they haven’t been able to play in China, the world’s biggest movie market. However, “No Time to Die” was able to secure a release date in the country in late October.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, “No Time to Die” was originally scheduled for April 2020. COVID-19 scrambled those plans, forcing the film to delay its release date three times over the last 18 months. It cost $250 million to produce, and at least $100 million to promote on a global scale, which explains why the film’s backers — MGM in North America and Universal Pictures in the rest of the world — opted to save the 007 adventure until it had a better chance of selling enough tickets to turn a profit.
Anticipation for “No Time to Die” has been stratospheric because it marks Daniel Craig’s fifth and final return as the legendary secret agent. Along with Craig, the cast includes Rami Malek as Bond’s adversary Safin, Lashana Lynch as a new 00 agent and Léa Seydoux as Bond’s love interest. Ana de Armas, Ben Whishaw and Christoph Waltz also star.