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.

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.”