NTTD to be 2021’s box office champ, Puck says

No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die will end up 2021’s box office champion ” with a big asterisk” among major studio films, the digital Puck news service said in an analysis.

No Time to Die is now projected to cross F9’s $721.1 million global number sometime around Thanksgiving, according to both MGM, its domestic distributor, and Universal, which handled most overseas territories,” wrote Puck’s Matthew Belloni, a former editor of The Hollywood Reporter and a one-time entertainment lawyer.

“With neither Eternals nor Venom: There Will Be Carnage getting a China release, and nothing major coming before year’s end (except Spider-man: No Way Home, which drops Dec. 17 and will earn mostly in 2022), it’s safe to say the Bond film played a long game and came out on top.”

The asterisk cited by Belloni is how the COVID-19 pandemic shrunk the movie-going audience in 2021. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame generated almost $2.8 billion at the global box office. That is “between three and four times the likely Bond number,” Belloni wrote.

The No Time to Die global box office, he added, is “still notable, given the geezer-skewing audience for the franchise. Studio research showed that 25 percent of the over-35 audience said this was their first movie back in theaters, I’m told.”

No Time to Die debuted in the U.K. in late September and in the U.S. in early October. Australia saw the film released on Nov. 11.

The Box Office Mojo website listed the Bond movie’s global box office at $709.2 million as of Thursday morning.

Two films released in Asia, The Battle at Lake Changjin and Hi, Mom, each have box office totals above $800 million.

No Time to Die falls 56% in its second U.S. weekend

No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die’s U.S. box office is projected to fall 56 percent in its second U.S. weekend to $24 million, Exhibitor Relations Co. said on Twitter.

The 25th James Bond film has generated about $99 million so far in the U.S., ERC said. Exhibitor Relations tracks box office data.

No Time to Die slipped to No. 2 in the U.S. behind Halloween Kills, which had an opening of $50.4 million despite also being shown on Comcast’s Peacock streaming service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Halloween Kills was being shown on 3,705 screens this weekend in the U.S. No Time to Die, in its opening weekend, was shown on 4,400 screens where its first U.S. weekend was $55.2 million.

No Time to Die opened strongly in the U.K. and Europe, but not so well in the U.S.

The Bond movie’s global box office was more than $341.4 million as of Oct. 15, according to Box Office Mojo. No Time to Die cost almost $300 million to make with additional marketing expenses.

In the U.S., there are indications that No Time to Die drew an older audience. Matthew Beloni of Puck News, a former Hollywood Reporter editor, wrote the following in a newsletter last week:

Have you seen those exit numbers on No Time to Die? Just 20 percent of opening weekend audience was under 25, compared to 41 percent for Spectre in 2015. Yikes. This franchise will grow old and die unless young people are given a reason to care.

As usual, we’ll see.

UPDATE: No Time to Die’s global box office is now estimated, as of today, at $447.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

UPDATE II: Final U.S. box office for the weekend was $23.8 million for Oct. 15-17. Global box office is $447.7 million.

About No Time to Die’s box office prospects

No Time to Die logo

After two weekends globally and one weekend in the U.S., No Time to Die’s global box office prospects are starting to take shape.

Matthew Belloni of Puck News, a former entertainment lawyer and editor at The Hollywood Reporter, summarized the 25th James Bond film’s performance so far.

Global is still pretty strong, with $145 million for the weekend and $313 million total. Given the costs, there’s almost no path to profitability now (Forbes is predicting about $700 million all-in), but it won’t be a colossal disaster.  

After all the hopes and dreams, No Time to Die opened to just $56 million in the U.S., a solid pandemic showing but nowhere near last weekend’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($90 million) or even 2015’s Spectre ($70.4 million), let alone the hyperbolic $100 million floated by some. 

This again comes down to how expensive No Time to Die was to make (approaching $300 million) and market (multiple waves of ads before it finally came out in late September and early October).

Obviously, there is a market for a James Bond movie, even during a pandemic. The question is the size of that market especially when COVID-19 still is a reality.

The blog has stated this before but it’s still the case. No Time to Die was conceived and produced during an era of expensive “tentpole” movies intended to draw customers to movie theaters. Billion-dollar box office movies became almost a necessity.

No Time to Die came out after COVID-19 coupled with streaming changed everything.

Only the number crunchers at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, will know the full story once No Time to Die completes its theatrical run. But the possibility of a popular hit that’s a financial disappointment remains.

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.”

‘Intrigue’ at Amazon, MGM over NYT article, newsletter says

MGM logo

A New York Times story on July 6 has created “intrigue” at Amazon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, according to a newsletter by a former editor at The Hollywood Reporter.

The article about MGM film chiefs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy generated some “serious eye-rolling at Amazon Studios this week,” wrote Matthew Belloni.

De Luca runs MGM’s film division and Abdy is his deputy. An excerpt from the newsletter:

I’m told Amazon’s famously press-averse executives were “concerned” about the story, mostly because De Luca and Abdy focused on MGM’s theatrical release plans and their strategy of “original ideas and original authorship,” possibly leaving the impression that there will be internal conflict with what Jeff Bezos cited as the primary reason for buying MGM: To “reimagine and redevelop” the studio’s existing I.P. The story also suggested the town might be rooting for De Luca to wrest control of Amazon’s film output from Jen Salke, the current head of Amazon Studios. 

Amazon last month agreed to acquire MGM for $8.45 billion. But the deal is subject to regulatory approval, a process that may take months.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, in a statement to the Times made clear they’re rooting for De Luca and Abdy.

Referring to Amazon, they said in the statement: “Our hope is that they will empower Mike and Pam to continue to run MGM unencumbered,” MGM is James Bond’s home studio. Eon controls creative matters with Bond while MGM finances the films.

Belloni’s newsletter said the Times story didn’t go over well with Amazon.

“Amazon and the tech companies that run Hollywood these days absolutely hate this posturing crap,” Belloni wrote. MGM and De Luca declined to comment to the newsletter.

No Time to Die, Eon’s 25th James Bond film, is scheduled to be released Sept. 30 in the U.K. and Oct. 8 in the U.S. The Amazon acquisition isn’t likely to be completed before then.