It wasn’t the constant copying of itself that killed the James Bond franchise, or all the drinking, or even going woke & preachy (although that remains to be seen). No, it appears that 007 is simply no match for the coronavirus. The movie studios have now officially pushed back their 25th James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ from it’s most recent premiere date of April 10, 2020 to all the way back to November.
Here’s what they said to Deadline:
“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of No Time to Die will be postponed until November 2020. The film will be released in the U.K. on November 12, 2020 with worldwide release dates to follow, including the U.S. launch on November 25, 2020,” said a statement given exclusively to Deadline by the three studios.
The movie will now compete with Will Smith’s King Richard, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, and Sony’s comedy The Happiest Season. Sounds like easier foes that the dreaded coronavirus of which worldwide fear has been promulgated by a media that is overwhelmingly incentivized to produce negative and alarmist headlines, without the accompanying historical context and analytical expertise needed for the average person to evaluate the severity of those headlines. This is especially problematic for the new coronavirus, because normal people have significantly poor health literacy relative to their knowledge of other public policy issues. And while some news publications may be responsible and balanced, most are operated on business models that privilege sensationalism and deem positive news and positive trends not to be “newsworthy”. It’s probably best to stay off of social media unless you want to be misinformed or terrified.
This is purely an economic decision we understand, and not one based on growing fears over the coronavirus. Bond is a day-and-date worldwide release, and with the franchise back in the hands of MGM fully post Sony’s distribution of the last four Daniel Craig movies, along with Universal, all parties involved need to have all foreign territories working at their maximum in order for the latest Bond to be a continued box office success. For a tentpole of this size and scope, that kind of decrease in business would have a significant and detrimental impact on the film’s ultimate global take.
Get ready for a big domino effect when it comes to rival studios following MGM/Eon/Universal’s example in re-scheduling their day-and-date event pics. It’s best to wait out the resurgence of key Asian offshore territories, if you have a major event pic on your schedule. No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, leaves behind a very lucrative Easter weekend period that’s up for grabs. How much does Easter weekend stand to make? The 2015 and 2016 holidays delivered back-to-back record openings with Uni’s Furious 7 ($161.2M) and Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman ($181M) driving respective weekend grosses for all titles to $247.1M and an all-time Easter high of $278.5M Stateside.
However, ever since China shuttered its exhibition structure due to the coronavirus outbreak, MGM, Eon and Uni have been in a wait and see mode. With theaters closing across Korea, Japan, Italy and France, there was a clear need to push the release of No Time to Die. The studios have been closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak like many other companies, and have seen a significant impact on the global market with all industries facing difficult decisions during these uncertain times.
China alone is poised to lose more than $2 billion since shutting 70K theaters this year. The release dates for Universal’s Dolittle and 1917, Searchlight Pictures’ Jojo Rabbit, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, and Pixar’s Onward have all been postponed indefinitely. For the period of Jan. 1-March 3, Comscore reports that South Korea’s box office is -60%, Italy’s is off 70-75% with roughly half of its cinemas closed (through we’ve heard that’s bound to improve by this weekend), Taiwan is down 30% year on year, along with Singapore (-35%), Philippines (-35%) and Hong Kong (-55%). In total, the global box office is expected to see at least a $5B hit in 2020.
The previous Daniel Craig James Bond films (Spectre, Skyfall, Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale) grossed $3.2 billion, which is almost half of the overall take for the franchise which is approaching $7 billion overall, with Skyfall being the highest grossing pic of all-time in the 58-year-old spy series bringing in $1.1B. Box office failure is not an option for Mr. Bond. Clearly this is a monetary decision.
It should also be noted that Dr. Ernest Wang, Chief of Emergency Medicine at NorthShore University HealthSystem, says that “people should not worry any more about this than the flu.” There’s a vaccine to fight the flu, but many choose not to get it. And influenza is a virus that kills on average 34,000 people in the U.S. every year, and infects 32-45 million people. By contrast, so far in the U.S. only around 100 people have been diagnosed with COVID 19 and nine people total have died, all in Washington state.
Let us be neither shaken, nor stirred. Just keep calm, and carry on.