Variety suggests NTTD still is unprofitable

No Time to Die teaser poster

Variety has published a story suggesting No Time to Die still hasn’t made a profit despite becoming the No. 1 box office film in 2021 among non-Chinese productions.

Here is an excerpt:

The action-packed spy spectacle, which endured several coronavirus-related delays, has become the rare pandemic-era box office hit, which is even more impressive considering adult audiences — the core demographic for “No Time to Die” — have been reluctant to return to theaters. However, the movie cost more than $250 million to produce, at least $100 million to promote and tens of millions more to postpone over 16 months. Insiders say “No Time to Die” needs to make closer to $900 million to break even.

No Time to Die cost almost $300 million to produce, according to a U.K. regulatory filing in 2020. And there were THREE COVID-19 delays, not “several.” There were FIVE delays overall. Two were related to how Danny Boyle was replaced as director with Cary Fukunaga.

MGM, replying to Variety, issued a denial.

“Unnamed and uninformed sources suggesting the film will lose money are categorically unfounded and put more simply, not true.”

Just remember: People deny things they know to be true. MGM hasn’t provided any detailed financial information regarding No Time to Die.

According to Variety, MGM crowed about how No Time to Die passed F9: The Fast Saga. (Something that occurred this weekend.) So far, No Time to Die hasn’t matched either 2015’s SPECTRE nor 2012’s Skyfall. That latter is the only Bond film to exceed $1 billion box office in theaters.

Since the advent of COVID-19 in early 2020, the market for theatrical films has shrunk. Before the pandemic, there were 48 movies that had a box office of $1 billion or more. 2012’s Skyfall is No. 28 on that list.

With COVID-19, no movie has reached that worldwide box office level. Some Bond fans don’t like to hear that and have criticized the blog for bringing it up.

That’s how it goes.

Bond 25 questions: The box office edition (updated)

No Time to Die poster.

No Time to Die passed two box office milestones, $700 million worldwide and $150 million in the United States.

How important is this? Naturally, the blog has questions.

This is good news, right? It means that No Time to Die is the No. 6 box office movie in the U.S. so far this year and No. 2 globally among movies financed by major U.S. studios. The Bond movie may be about to catch F9: The Fast Saga at $721 million.

So? That means, even in a post-COVID 19 pandemic era, that James Bond still is very popular.

Is there a caveat? Yes. No Time to Die still hasn’t reached profitability during its theatrical release.

During a film’s theatrical run, studios split the take with theaters. No Time to Die’s production cost approached $300 million. It had additional marketing costs on top of that. The most notable was a February 2020 Super Bowl TV ad estimated at $5.69 million that was flushed down the drain by COVID delays. There were tens of millions of more dollars spent after that.

But aren’t there more revenue streams? Sure. There are video on demand rentals (which began in the U.S. on Nov. 9) and the early home video releases.

Still, studios prefer a movie get into profit territory during its theatrical release.

With COVID-19, studios are in new territory. Before the pandemic, studios were able to generate box office of $1 billion or more per movie in theaters. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame scored almost $2.8 billion in theaters worldwide.

In 2021, no movie has reached $1 billion. It’s a new world for studios for a lot of reasons.

No Time to Die was made during one era. It was released during another. Clearly, Bond’s popularity remains high. But the future may require changes. As usual, we’ll see.

No Time to Die passes $600M in global box office

No Time to Die logo

No Time to Die has passed the $600 million global box office mark as the 25th James Bond movie nears the end of its worldwide rollout.

The movie’s global figure is now an estimated $605.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo. This weekend saw the Bond film debut in China.

In the U.S., No Time to Die’s fourth weekend was an estimated $7.8 million for Oct. 29-31. That was 36 percent below the Oct. 22-24 weekend. A decline weekend decline below 50 percent is considered a strong box office performance.

In the U.S., No Time has generated an estimated box office of $133.3 million. That’s not as popular as globally but nothing to sneeze at.

Context: Globally, No Time to Die is one of the most popular films of the COVID-19 pandemic era. The champ is F9: The Fast Saga at $721.1 million.

However, the pandemic has changed things. The champ for 2019 (the last year before the pandemic) was Avengers: Endgame at almost $2.8 billion.

Keep in mind: These figures are called grosses (as opposed to profits) for a reason. The studios split the money with theaters.

No Time to Die’s production budget approached $300 million. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer spent millions of dollars beyond that in marketing.

Conclusion: It’s good news and bad news. Bond still is popular overall. It’s not so great for those who pay the bills. All concerned might want to be more budget-conscious for Bond 26.

NTTD passes $500 million global mark

No Time to Die surpassed the $500 million global box office mark this weekend. (UPDATE: The worldwide figure is at an estimated $525.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo.)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that would have been cause for mourning after four weeks in theaters worldwide and three weekends in the U.S. Before COVID-19, Bond would have been a candidate for a billion-dollar global box office.

However, in a post-pandemic marketplace, the 25th James Bond film, already ranks as one of the most popular movies in terms of movie theater box office.

No Time to Die passing the $500 million mark was noted in a story by TheWrap.

The highest COVID era box office currently is F9: The Fast Saga at $716.6 million. No Time to Die has yet to be released in China, Australia and New Zealand.

No Time to Die completed principal photography in the fall of 2019, before COVID-19 began to spread across the world. It has been delayed three times because of the pandemic. ‘

Meanwhile, estimates of No Time to Die’s third weekend in the U.S. were released. The Bond film came in No. 3 behind Dune, the major new movie out this weekend, and Halloween Kills. Here’s a tweet from Exhibitor Relations Co.

If No Time to Die passes F9 globally , that will be a sign that James Bond remains very popular. At the same time, a movie can be popular while unprofitable at least during its theatrical release.

No Time to Die had a production cost approaching $300 million. There were additional advertising and marketing expenditures. What’s more, the studios involved (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal) only get about half of the box office. In China, it’s only 25 percent.

As ever, we will see.

UPDATE: The U.S. weekend box office estimate is $11.9 million. The final figure will be out on Oct. 25.

NTTD opens in the U.S. with good news, not-so-good news

BOND: Harumpf!

First the good news: No Time to Die is projected to be the No. 1 movie in the U.S. this weekend.

Not-so-good news: The 25th James Bond film’s estimated weekend take (including Thursday night preview showings) is estimated at $56 million, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which track movie box office data.

That’s behind the U.S. opening of Skyfall ($88.4 million), SPECTRE ($70.4 million), and Quantum of Solace ($67.5 million). In U.S. terms, No Time to Die’s opening is the lowest since 2006’s Casino Royale ($40.8 million), when movie ticket prices were a lot cheaper.

The U.S. results for No Time to Die compare with an international opening of $121 million last week. That, of course, included the U.K., where going to a Bond movie is part of national pride.

Some context: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (a Spider-Man related movie) had an opening of $90 million last weekend.

To be sure: Comparing No Time to Die (released during the midst of a long pandemic) to earlier Bond films is dicey. No Time to Die’s release was delayed three times because of COVID-19.

On the other hand: U.S. audiences are turning out for movies. For whatever reason, in the U.S., Venom trumps Bond. I never thought I’d type that in a sentence.

I suspect Bond 26, whenever that comes out, will be shoved toward the end of the release dates. (joke/sarcasm)

UPDATE: Deadline: Hollywood reports that No Time to Die’s global box office is $313.7 million including this weekend’s U.S. results.

Not surprisingly, the U.K. paced the international results. Here’s the take from Exhibitor Relations Co.

No Time to Die becomes reality this week

No Time to Die teaser poster

After an almost six-year wait, the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions becomes a reality this week.

No Time to Die, after many, many hiccups (to put it kindly), will be seen by its first audiences this week.

The official premiere is Sept. 28 in London. There will be other showings in other countries. At long last, Daniel Craig’s Bond farewell will be seen by audiences.

The project was announced on July 24, 2017, with no distributor, no director, and even no star. The only creative crew attached were writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Daniel Craig, who had starred in the previous four Bond films, finally said on the Aug. 15, 2017 telecast of The Late Show on CBS that he was coming back. Earlier in the day, in radio station interviews, he claimed nothing had been decided.

“No decision has been made at the moment,” Craig told Magic 106.7 at the time. “There’s a lot of noise out there. Nothing official has been confirmed. I’m not like holding out for more money or doing anything like that.”

Since then, the radio stations took down the original links to the interviews. Evidently, radio stations are low on the media totem pole and there are no problems with lying to them.

No Time to Die (as the movie eventually would be titled) went through many rewrites. Besides Purvis and Wade, the likes of Scott Z. Burns, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and director Cary Fukunaga took a whirl at the script.

Also don’t forget for a time that John Hodge was supposed to be the main writer. He and Danny Boyle, the first announced director, had pitched an idea. A script in development for a year was set aside when Boyle and Hodge (supposedly) had a great idea that wowed Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio.

Then, all of a sudden, the Boyle-Hodge take was found wanting. Members of FOE (Friends of Eon) tried to reassure fans everything was still on track.

Except it wasn’t. The original fall 2019 release date got pushed back to February 2020 and then April 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused further delays. Fall 2020. Spring 2021. Finally, the impending fall 2021 dates.

Nevertheless, Bond is a hard man to put down. Bond never conquered COVID. But he’s coming out this week in the U.K. (and elsewhere) as well as North America next week.

No Time to Die was conceived during the pre-pandemic era. That’s when expensive movies were brought out by studios. If audiences liked them, a box office of $1 billion was possible. No Time to Die, which had production spending approaching $300 million, sought that target.

The new Bond film is coming out in a new world. Maximum movie box office achievement is well below $1 billion.

Maybe Bond can change that. But, personally, I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Regardless, Bond fans are excited. And they should be. The gentlemen agent is back after a long hiatus.

Will this be a “cinematic masterpiece” in the words of Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli? That’s up to the audience.

The fact is, the audience finally gets a chance to judge. The hype is over. Let’s see how it goes.

Bond 25 questions: Are we set for real?

No Time to Die poster from some time ago

No Time to Die’s final international and U.S. trailers are out. After five delays, it would seem the 25th James Bond film is a lock to come out soon.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Is this really it?

No Time to Die is scheduled to come out on Sept. 30 in the U.K. (and other countries). It’s scheduled to come out in the U.S. on Oct. 8. There are 28 days before the movie’s world premiere. There are likely fewer days before movie reviewers get to see it to do their reviews.

It would seem to be more than difficult to push it back a sixth time (twice because Danny Boyle was replaced as director, three times because of COVID-19).

Still some Bond fans recall this image from the Peanuts comic strip.

Many Bond fans won’t believe it until they’re in the theater watching No Time to Die.

What does this tell us?

It tells us there’s a limit how many times you can kick a movie down the road. At least that’s what studios (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal) as well as production companies (Eon Productions, which makes Bond films) apparently have concluded.

But is this the best time to release movies?

No. COVID-19 became a factor in early 2020. The pandemic has become more complicated as the virus has evolved. Viruses do that. At the same time, the money types evidently have concluded, at least in No Time to Die’s case, this has gone as far as it can.

Any other thoughts? I will repeat something I’ve said multiple times. No Time to Die was conceived in one era — studios could spend a ridiculous amount of money but get bailed out if the films generated billion-dollar global box office results.

That was supposed to happen with No Time to Die. Skyfall had a $1.1 billion global box office. SPECTRE fell short. But No Time to Die was intended to be the climax of the Daniel Craig era for Bond.

At this point, a $1 billion box office for No Time to Die seems a distant dream. The money people, it would seem, have decided to get what they squeeze from the production.

Bond’s one undefeatable foe: COVID-19

Even James Bond seems unable to defeat COVID-19. Whatever the final outcome, the coronavirus, including its more infectious Delta variant, has wrecked marketing plans for the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die.

What once seemed possible, a global box office of $1 billion, now appears remote. The coronavirus also is a moving target and still is a wild card.

A newsletter from the former editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter said that the studios behind No Time to Die were committed to the current release window of Sept. 30 in the U.K. (and other countries) and Oct. 8 in the U.S.

Only hours after the newsletter by Matthew Belloni arrived at email in-boxes on Aug. 19, news came via MI6 HQ that the release date of the movie had been pushed back to Nov. 11 in Australia and New Zealand.

So far, excluding Australia and New Zealand, No Time to Die has been delayed three times because of COVID-19. The Australia-New Zealand situation raises the possibility of a fourth global postponement, contrary to Belloni’s reporting.

Now, studios generally are grappling with whether to press ahead or delay movies again. But delays are hardly a guarantee — witness the delays with No Time to Die alone. The movie still hasn’t been released almost two years after principal photography concluded.

Delays also drive up marketing costs as advertising campaigns have to be restarted each time. A lot of ads for No Time to Die — including a pricy Super Bowl ad in 2020 — came to naught.

The pandemic era began in early 2020. Since then, what had become almost common — $1 billion or more box office for movies — has gone away. That’s something expensive movies such as No Time to Die (its production budget was around $300 million) came to depend on.

Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office data, put out this list of top Hollywood box office movies during the pandemic era.

Some day, No Time to Die will be out. Chances are it will do better at the box office than many films. At the same time, the cinema Bond has been bloodied. As the blog has said before, No Time to Die was conceived and filmed during one era. It will debut in another era where the rules changed.

Studios committed to NTTD release date, newsletter says

No Time to Die logo

SECOND UPDATE (12:34 a.m., Aug. 20): The COVID-19 situation may be moving faster. MI6 HQ (James Bond MI6 website tweeted out that Australia has postponed No Time to Die to Nov. 11 from Oct. 8. Theater lists like this one from an Imax theater carry the Nov. 11 date. Later, MI6 HQ tweeted that New Zealand is also delayed to Nov. 11.

ORIGINAL POST: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal “are said to be committed” to No Time to Die’s current Sept. 30 U.K./Oct. 8 U.S. release date, according to a newsletter by a former Hollywood Reporter editor which cited “numerous sources” he didn’t identify.

Here’s an excerpt of the newsletter by Matthew Belloni, one-time editorial director at The Hollywood Reporter and a former entertainment lawyer:

No film is under a bigger microscope on this issue than No Time to Die. Numerous sources have told me there just isn’t a way to make much money in the current environment on a $250 million-plus production, but distributors MGM and Universal—with pressure from the Broccoli family, of course—are said to be committed to that Oct. 8 release date. Bond movies typically do nearly 80 percent of their business outside the U.S., particularly in the U.K. (where it’s set to open a week early) and Europe, and Universal is hoping the Delta peak will have passed there.

The passage is part of a larger item about the upcoming CinemaCon, an annual theaters convention and ongoing attendance problems related to COVID-19, including the more contagious Delta variant.

Belloni addressed whether No Time to Die can get a China release.

“China also hasn’t yet allowed the film, but previous Bonds got in (2015’s Spectre grossed $85 million there), and the fall release date was picked in part to avoid the country’s summer ban on Hollywood fare,” he wrote. “It needs every penny from every market.”

No Time to Die’s production cost was closer to $300 million as of mid-2020, according to a U.K. regulatory filing. The 25th James Bond film has been delayed five times — twice related to the departure of original director Danny Boyle (Cary Fukunaga took his place) and three times because of COVID. The film’s original release date was fall 2019.

No Time to Die is being distributed in the U.S. and Canada by United Artists releasing (joint venture of MGM and Annapurna Pictures) and by Universal internationally.

Belloni is part of Puck, a media startup company.

UPDATE I: Belloni was also on a podcast called Hollywood Breakdown. On the podcast, he said one consideration is movies can’t be postponed indefinitely because 1) a film may be seen as stale by audiences and 2) there are marketing costs with each new release date. Belloni also said the thinking is if No Time to Die generates box office of $600 million to $800 million “they’re going to be OK if they can do that.”

MGM stays mum about No Time to Die

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer stayed mum about No Time to Die during an investor call this week.

Christopher Brearton, MGM’s chief operating officer, said No Time to Die “sets MGM up for a tremendous second half of 2021.”

That was the only mention of the 25th James Bond film in the executive’s prepared remarks. The executive also referenced a movie, to be made on MGM’s Orion brand, based on the killing of Emmet Till, with Eon Productions’ Barbara Broccoli as one of the producers.

No Time to Die has been delayed five times from its original fall 2019 release date. Three of the delays have been due to COVID-19.

In recent weeks, the virus has mutated with its Delta variant causing a spike in cases and hospitalizations. So far, the Bond film is scheduled to be released Sept. 30 in the U.K. and Oct. 8 in the U.S.

No Time to Die is being released in North America by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture of MGM and Annapurna Pictures. Universal is releasing the movie internationally.

MGM has agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $8.45 billion. The deal is subject to regulatory review, including an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.