Bond’s future: Time to go modest again?

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen a lot of debate about the post-COVID-19 future. As it relates to James Bond, is it time for Bond to go modest again?

No Time to Die, a $250 million blockbuster, was a pre-COVID-19 movie. It was an attempt to keep up with blockbuster “tentpole” movies.

Over the decades, Bond had plenty of experience going big — Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Die Another Day (2002). SPECTRE (2015).

For No Time to Die, the problem is it could not be finished in time to be released before the novel coronavirus. The 25th James Bond film was intended to be distributed in an era where moviegoers crowded into theaters as fast as they could.

Studios looked to get as much money as quickly as they could before a home video release.

COVID-19 has changed all that. And the nature of the change isn’t clear yet.

Anecdotally, I’ve seen Disney fans complain a lot about how the studio has called off a theatrical release for Mulan in favor of a $29.99 digital release for people who subscribe to the company’s Disney + service. (You pay the $29.99 fee on top of the monthly subscription cost.)

More broadly, will all the COVID-19 changes force studios to be more frugal? No more $250 million (or more) blockbusters. with a star getting $20 million? (Daniel Craig’s reported fee for No Time to Die is $25 million.)

We’ll see. For Bond fans, let me make an optimistic point. Over the decades, Bond has shown it can go small (or at least less blockbuster) at key points. Bond likely has a future in the post-COVID-19 era.

It’s just that No Time to Die is caught in the middle.