The Sun says No Time to Die may be delayed again

No Time to Die teaser poster

The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, said No Time to Die’s release date may be pushed back again because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Here’s an excerpt:

An LA source said: “There are very secret discussions moving forward about what to do.

“Bond films are massive money spinners; people forget Daniel’s work on Skyfall and Spectre staved off potential bankruptcy for the MGM company with its profits.

“This is business. And business decisions have to be made.

“Simply put having No Time To Die earning less than half a billion at the box office would be deemed a disaster – no matter the circumstances.”

The 25th James Bond film originally was set to come out in November 2019 in the U.S. It got pushed back to February 2020 and then, finally, seemed set for April 2020.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. No Time to Die then was delayed to November of this year.

While COVID-19 cases have subsided in some regions, they are still reaching new highs in the U.S. market, which accounts for about 25 percent of a Bond film’s global box office haul. In the U.S., states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are suffering major COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Sun’s unconfirmed story says a decision on a release date may be announced by the end of the month.

No Time to Die is being released by United Artists releasing (co-owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio) in the U.S. and by Universal internationally.

About that No Time to Die release date Part II

No Time to Die poster

Almost two months ago, the blog raised the question of whether No Time to Die’s November release date is that secure.

Things haven’t firmed up since.

Here in the United States, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is worse than ever. Los Angeles, a major movie viewing market, is one of the hot spots. And the U.S. itself is the worst place on Earth for the virus, according to information tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

As a result, movie studios are still juggling release dates. Ask Warner Bros., which keeps changing the dates for movies such as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984.

What’s more, non-movie venues are also in flux.

This week, the Geneva Motor Show, one of the leading global events in the auto industry, announced its 2021 edition, scheduled for March, was canceled. That’s an indication any event where crowds will gather is uncertain.

Again, turning to the U.S., Major League Baseball wants to attempt an abbreviated 60-game season starting in late July. But is that possible given the current COVID-19 situation? As things stand now, MLB games will be played in empty stadiums. Meanwhile minor league baseball has been canceled for 2020.

Granted, it’s a little more than four months before No Time to Die is due out. Things can change.

Also, should Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) and Universal (handling international distribution) write off the U.S. and release the 25th James Bond film in Europe and Asia where COVID-19 seems more under control while writing off the U.S.?

Who knows? Still, it’s not much of a reach to say No Time to Die’s current release date is as uncertain as ever.

Spoilers catch up with No Time to Die (no spoilers)

“Spoilers? Again?”

To be clear, there are no spoilers in this post. The post is noting that the spoilers exist. But if that’s too much, move on, nothing to see here.

It was bound to happen. The delay of No Time to Die from an April release to November (assuming that holds) provided more opportunity for spoilers to emerge.

During filming, the production kept a fairly tight lid on things until filming in Matera, Italy, in August 2019. There, tourists with smartphones posted many videos of the filming involving Aston Martin DB5 replicas.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, leaned on some Bond-related websites to take down video floating around the internet. But major news services, such as Reuters, were also posting the videos and things cooled down.

After that, things remained quiet until recently.

Some No Time to Die call sheets were auctioned on eBay. The call sheets, in turn, provided clues about the movie’s plot.

The MI6 James Bond website posted a story on June 3, with a spoiler warning in red type at the start of the article. The headline was simply, “Spoiler Warning.”

This blog summarized the MI6 website post the same day. That post also had a spoiler warning: “Is this a spoiler? Only if it’s correct. Nevertheless, don’t read any further if that upsets you.”

However, the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail, came out with a story based on the call sheets the evening of June 6, New York time.

The Mail didn’t have a spoiler warning. In fact, the big spoiler was in the headline. So don’t click on the link above if you don’t want to know.

Since then, there has been a lot of fan complaints and criticism on social media.

It’s possible more of this may lay ahead. It’s still five months until No Time to Die’s current scheduled release date.

No Time to Die’s box

New No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die is in a box. The question is whether it can claw its way out.

It’s an expensive movie: Because of U.K. regulatory filings by B25 Ltd., a subsidiary of Eon Productions, we know the production budget was at least 199.47 million British pounds (more than $240 million). That doesn’t include marketing costs.

The movie’s revenue streams are limited: No Time to Die was made before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). But it is to be distributed in a COVID-19 world.

The conventional thinking is a big blockbuster like No Time to Die needs both a theatrical release and a healthy digital/home video release.

In a COVID-19 world, the theatrical portion of that equation has a lot of uncertainty. Theaters, when they open, won’t be able to sell all their seats.

Assuming No Time to Die makes its current November release date, how many seats can theaters sell? 25 percent? 50 percent? At this point, much higher than that doesn’t seem possible.

For that matter, how comfortable will people feel going back to movie theaters, even if they could sell all their seats?

At the same time, video on demand alone doesn’t seem to be the way for a studio (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been financing the film) to get its money back, much less generate the profit it’s counting on.

In the U.S., all 50 states are trying to revive their economies. Other countries are trying to do so as well. But it appears theaters may be among the last businesses to open up to the extent they operated before COVID-19.

No Tie to Die was made during the existence of one world. It will be shown (eventually) in the existence of another.

That’s the box No Time to Die is in. How it fares remains to be seen.

About that No Time to Die release date

Well, maybe.

The blog asked March 20, “How confident are you of No Time to Die’s new November release date?” The answer: “Get back to me when we know how the coronavirus plays out.”

The picture hasn’t cleared up much since. Movie theaters still are mostly closed in a number of major markets.

Even when they reopen, the theaters may have to strictly limit the number of tickets sold for each showing of a film. A “packed” house may consist of perhaps 25 percent of the seats sold.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives, in a March call with investors, said delaying the movie to November from April was a bold and necessary move.

Christopher Brearton, MGM’s chief operating officer, said 007’s home studio was “able to secure Bond’s place on the release calendar…This was the right decision for MGM and the storied James Bond franchise.”

Of course, that assumed theaters would be operating normally and audiences would feel comfortable going to films again. Neither can be assumed right now.

This week, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, wrote that “some studio executives are now thinking its release should be pushed back even further — into next year, if an available date can be found. So many blockbuster release dates have already been shunted into 2021 that available screens are scarce.”

Bamigboye over the past decade has seen a number of his Bond-related scoops proven correct. While he doesn’t write about Bond as much as he used to, he still draws attention when he does report on 007. Other outlets quickly summarized his report (which was one item in a weekly column).

The thing is, the novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is causing plenty of other uncertainty. There’s still no cure, no vaccine and few treatment options.

An example of the real-life impact: Manufacturers are trying to restart operations but likely will have to deploy workers further apart. They may have to run more shifts while making fewer products.

COVID-19’s impact is huge. There have been more than 1 million confirmed cases in the U.S. alone, with tens of thousands of deaths.

Revisiting that March 20 post question — how confident are you of No Time to Die’s new November release date? — there isn’t much reason to feel more confident. But, as ever, we’ll see.

For now, Black Widow and Bond will be out in November

Poster for Black Widow

Movie studios continue to play a game of chess with release dates as the coronavirus slams the global economy.

Walt Disney Co. announced a series of release dates, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office.

Among the new dates is Black Widow, made by Disney’s Marvel unit, now scheduled to debut on Nov. 6 in the U.S.

Black Widow originally was slated to come out on May 1. The coronavirus, which resulted in movie theater closings in multiple countries, has forced many changes.

One of the first films to change dates was No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film. It originally was scheduled to be out on April 2 in the U.K. and April 10 in the U.S.

The Bond film currently is scheduled to be out in Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S.

If all this holds up, Marvel’s leading espionage character will have her solo film the same month as No Time to Die.

How significant is this? With the coronavirus, everything is in flux. We’ll see how it goes.

MGM says NTTD delay was ‘the right call at the right time’

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief operating officer this week told investors that delaying No Time to Die to November was “the right call at the right time.”

Christopher Brearton, on a conference call with investors, said the studio acted quickly and was “able to secure Bond’s place on the release calendar…This was the right decision for MGM and the storied James Bond franchise.”

No Time to Die, the 25th Bond film, had been set for release in April, with a world premiere on March 31.

On March 4, the release date was changed to Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S. The move took place as the coronavirus pandemic began disrupting the entertainment industry, with theaters closing and productions being shut down. No Time to Die was one of the first major films to be delayed.

Since then, a number of expensive films — the ninth Fast and the Furious installment, Marvel’s Black Widow and Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984, among them — have given up their original release dates.

Since 1995, Bond films have mostly come out in November in the U.S.

“That window has worked,” Brearton said. He called the new November schedule “an advantageous release date.”

Hilarious 007 ‘reports’ over the past five years

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The world is a grim place right now and we could all use a laugh. So, in that spirit, here is a partial list of questionable reports involving the James Bond film franchise over the past five years.

The Bond series will be a period piece overseen by the Mad Men showrunner!

In October 2015, the Sunday Express reported that “studio bosses” (it cited an MGM executive who wasn’t identified) had asked Matthew Weiner, the creator/showrunner of the now-defunct TV show Mad Men ” to head a new team to oversee Bond’s return to his heyday 1960s.” This would occur after the departure of star Daniel Craig.

This story, of course, appeared shortly before the debut of 2015’s SPECTRE, the most recent James Bond film.

Mad Men was set in the 1960s. One episode referred to both the 1967 Casino Royale and You Only Live Twice (as well as a 1965 episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)

Left unanswered by the story: What happens to Eon Productions and its producers, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson? Reading the story in 2020 also is unintentionally hilarious given the soap opera surrounding the production of the next Daniel Craig Bond film.

Daniel Craig was being offered $150 million to stay as Bond!

In September 2016, an outfit called Radar Online said that Sony Pictures was offering Craig $150 million to play Bond in two more movies.

Problem: Sony’s involvement with the franchise ended with SPECTRE. The studio sought to continue the relationship but that didn’t happen.

Second problem: Paying Craig $75 million per film? Really? Some Daniel Craig fans contacted the blog to claim this made perfect financial sense. Later, Variety reported Craig’s paycheck for Bond 25/No Time to Die was $25 million.

Studio bosses want Bond 25 out by November 2018!

In December 2016, the tabloid Mirror chimed in with a story saying MGM was getting nervous and Bond 25 was supposed to be out by November 2018. (Oops).

Bond 25 will be called Shatterhand but be based on a Bond continuation novel!

There has been a long-held fan theory that Shatterhand (a Blofeld alias in the You Only Live Twice novel) would be a great title for a Bond film. But in July 2017, the Mirror had a novel twist on this.

This version said Bond 25 would be called Shatterhand but be based on a Bond continuation novel, Never Dream of Dying, by Raymond Benson. Benson said nobody from the Mirror had contacted him about the story. This was a few weeks before Craig finally announced he was coming back to play Bond in one movie.

Danny Boyle’s haunting laugh!

By now, Bond fans know the Danny Boyle saga. The director had suddenly become a contender, in early 2018, to direct Bond 25. Then, in May 2018, he was announced as the director. And then in August 2018, he was out because of “creative differences.”

In March 2018, Boyle talked briefly about the prospect of directing Bond. At that point, he was working with scribe John Hodge on a script. But around the 25-second mark of this Associated Press video, Boyle lets out with a laugh that comes across as haunting given subsequent events.

Even James Bond isn’t immune from a pandemic

Even James Bond isn’t immune from a pandemic

Agent 007, nor his many fans, are immune from a pandemic.

In the first three days of this month, a number of James Bond fans were skeptical that No Time to Die’s release date needed to be pushed back.

That seems like an eternity ago. Since then, theaters in Italy and France were closed. Weeks before that, theaters in China had been closed.

Some Bond sites said the coronavirus was serious and the No Time to Die release pans needed to be considered.

The studios involved, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (U.S. via its United Artists Releasing joint venture with Annapurna) and Univeral (international) opted to push No Time to Die back to November.

Other Bond sites opposed the move, one saying that it ruined “Bond fun.” Some may have deleted previous criticism of the idea of delaying No Time to Die’s release.

Since then, several movies also delayed their release dates. In the U.S., sports leagues and events have been canceled or postponed without replacement dates.

At least some of those who objected to the No Time to Die delay haven’t acknowledged those subsequent facts. That’s how it goes.

In the past 10 days, the No Time to Die delay has become part of a much larger calamity. Movies delayed. Trade shows canceled. Broadways shut down. Concern grows whether more severe steps need to be taken.

As the blog has said before, it’s time to get real. Pandemics don’t happen that often. But we’re in one now.

UPDATE (9 p.m., New York time): Olga Kurylenko, who played the lead female part in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, said in an Instagram post that she has tested positive for coronavirus.

UPDATE (11:25 p.m., New York time): Movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles have been ordered to close because of the pandemic, The Hollywood Reporter said.

(Slightly) revised NTTD spot appears on SNL

Last shot of No Time to Die spot on Saturday Night Live

Despite being delayed unti November, a spot for No Time to Die appeared during the first half-hour of the March 7 telecast of Saturday Night Live.

The spot appeared after an uneven skit featuring Daniel Craig, who was the host of the March 7 broadcast. The skit had Craig playing James Bond going crazy after placing winning bets in a casino.

As soon as the skit was over, the No Time to Die spot began.

That spot didn’t appear much different from recent commercials for the 25th James Bond film.

The major difference was the final shot at the end. It said, “THANKSGIVING.”

No Time to Die has been scheduled for next month. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Univeral (the international distributor) and Eon Productions said March 4 that the movie would now come out in November. The coronavirus has shut down theaters in key international markets, including China.

Both Universal and NBC (which televises Saturday Night Live) are owned by Comcast.

UPDATE (1:10 a.m., March 8): Saturday Night Live sent out a video of the skit on Twitter.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

UPDATE II (12:25 p.m., March 8): I missed this because it aired while I was writing the original post. The Weekend Update segment saw one of its “anchors” deliver a No Time to Die joke. Noting the delay in release date, it was suggested the date should have stayed in April but the title changed to “Time to Die.”