Bond 25 questions: The marketing & box office edition

No Time to Die logo

We’re a month away from No Time to Die being released in the U.K. It appears the 25th James Bond film is done with delays and ready to confront the COVID-19 pandemic head on. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What’s the movie’s global box office going to be?

In the pandemic era, the movie with the largest global box office total is F9: The Fast Saga at about $704 million. Can No Time to Die match or exceed that? Naturally, Bond fans think so. But box office totals depend on more than hard-core fans.

What are the marketing dynamics?

To begin with, it’s a three-headed monster.

–You have Eon Productions, which makes the movies. Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said in 2015 that the company really manages the marketing. The distributors just execute Eon’s plan.

“We create it, they execute it,” Wilson said at that time.

–You have Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, which foots the bills. No Time to Die is being distributed in North America by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture of MGM and Annapurna Pictures.

–You have Universal, which is distributing the film internationally. Supposedly, Universal was selected because of its track record, which included turning The Fast and the Furious series into a $1 billion per film juggernaut per film prior to COVID-19. In that case, Universal ran the whole show. Now it’s dealing with another studio and a strong-willed production company.

On Aug. 24, Vulture, the arts website of New York magazine, had a story about the difficulty in scheduling movies amid COVID-19. It quoted someone it identified only as ” a person with knowledge of business practices at Eon.

“They’ve lost so much money by moving [No Time to Die]; the marketing has gotten stale,” this person says. “The Broccolis care more about the U.K. than anything — making it a big hit in the U.K., a decent hit in the U.S. and the rest of the world.” (emphasis added)

If true, it’d be interesting to know what MGM/United Artists Releasing thinks about that. It’d also be interesting to get the view of Universal, responsible for a lot more than just the U.K.

Anything to be on the lookout for?

The marketing is gearing up. Some commercials have run recently. Assuming there isn’t another delay (there have been five to date), we’ll be getting to judge the marketing efforts for ourselves.

MGM watch: Respect looks for some

Respect, a movie about the life of singer Aretha Franklin, got off to a show start at the U.S. box office.

The film, made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and released by United Artists Releasing, is estimated to produce $8.8 million in its opening weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office data.

Respect originally was scheduled to be released in 2020. MGM looked to the film to generate Academy Award nominations. But Respect was pushed back to this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respect is being shown only in theaters and is on more than 3,000 screens. The same applies to Free Guy and Don’t Breathe 2, which also debuted this weekend. Respect was No. 4 this weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations.

MGM and United Artists Releasing (MGM’s joint venture with Annapurna Pictures) have the same theater-only opening strategy for No Time to Die. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to come out Oct. 8 in the U.S.

Here’s how Exhibitor Relations summarized Respect’s opening weekend box office.

UPDATE (Aug. 29): Respect already is available on pay-per-view. Apparently the movie didn’t get much respect in the theater.

CBC carries NTTD ad during Olympics telecast

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. logo

There’s no telling how signficant this is but the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. ran a No Time to Die spot during the network’s coverage of the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

The spot ran between 9:45 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. eastern time.

There wasn’t any new footage (or if it was new it was significiantly different) compared with earlier trailers. For example, star Daniel Craig delivers his “Bond, James Bond” line to a security screener at MI6 who clearly doesn’t know who the former agent is.

Because this is part of the North American release, the spot had an Oct. 8 date for the movie’s debut. The U.S. and Canada release is being handled by United Artists Releasing, the joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures. The movie is getting an earlier release (as things stand now) in the U.K. and other countries where Universal is handling distribution.

Some COVID-19 related movie news

There are some new tea leaves to read regarding motion pictures and COVID-19. Nothing definite, certainly not in connection with No Time to Die. But a few items to keep in mind.

Falling moviegoer confidence: The Hollywood Reporter said a late July poll indicates that confidence among moviegoers has lessened as the new delta variant of COVID-19 spreads.

An exerpt:

The results of a late July poll on moviegoing confidence levels were alarming. The National Research Group survey, closely watched by studios, showed that the overall comfort level had tumbled from a pandemic-era high of 81 percent to 72 percent in the span of just three weeks amid the delta variant. Moms appeared to be the most concerned about taking a trip to the multiplex, with their comfort index tumbling from 75 percent to 59 percent.

The story, by Pamela McClintock, references how the family film Clifford the Big Red Dog has been delayed from a planned September release. It raises questions whether other movies may also get delayed.

A notable comic book movie starts slow: Warner Bros.’s Suicide Squad debuts this weekend. It is available both in theaters and on HBO Max. It’s directed by James Gunn, who helmed two Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel. It’s essentially a do-over for the group of villains forced to work for the U.S. government. It also follows Birds of Prey, another Warners-DC comics film.

Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office data, said on Twitter that film’s Thursday night preview shows were nothing special.

Of course, it’s still early.

UPDATE (Aug. 8): Things didn’t go so well.

There’s another MGM movie about to come out: That would be Respect, a film about the life of singer Aretha Franklin (1942-2018).

At one point, MGM viewed Respect as a way to get Oscar nominations. But then COVID-19 caused the studio to delay from late 2020 to the Aug. 13 weekend.

Like other MGM films (including No Time to Die), it is distributed in North America by United Artists Releasing, MGM’s joint venture with Annapurna Pictures. Respect is being shown “only in theaters,” just like No Time to Die.

h/t to David Zaritsky, via Morten Steingrimsen, who flagged The Hollywood Reporter story to my attention.

NTTD: Key events, dates that shaped expectations

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All they need to do is change the “3” to a “2.”

No Time to Die has become one of the longest soap operas in the history of the Eon Productions James Bond film series. But how did it get that way?

What follows are some key events and dates. All of them helped shape outside perspective of the production.

July 24, 2017: Both Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announce that Bond 25 will be released on Nov. 8, 2019. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are onboard as writers.

At this point, MGM had no way of distributing the film. As it turns out, MGM was working to get back into distribution. But that wouldn’t be firmed up for some time. MGM and Annapurna would form a joint venture, later called United Artists releasing, for U.S. distribution. Eventually, Universal would be picked for international distribution.

In any case, the announcement creates the expectation Bond 25 would be out in fall 2019.

Aug. 15, 2017: Daniel Craig, on CBS’s The Late Show, says he’s returning as Bond in the new movie. The July 2017 announcement didn’t specify who was playing Bond.

Craig’s appearance helps create the impression of momentum. The Bond film machine is stirring.

Oct. 31, 2017: MGM and Annapurna announce their joint venture. Bond 25, for now, is not part of the deal. (It would become part of it later.) But again, the news creates the image of momentum.

February 2018: Entertainment news outlets report that Danny Boyle is a contender to direct Bond 25. Ultimately, it turns out Boyle and his writer, John Hodge, have a competing idea for the film and Hodge is working up a script. If that idea gets approved, Hodge is in the director’s chair.

Boyle confirms all this in March.

May 25, 2018: Official announcement is made that Boyle is directing and Hodge is writing Bond 25.

It’s a new day. Now, that’s what you call momentum.

Aug. 21, 2018: Danny Boyle, we hardly ye. He’s out, according to a new announcement. (It later becomes clear Hodge is gone, too.) Now, that’s what you call slamming the brakes on momentum.

Sept. 20, 2018: Bond 25 has a new director, Cary Fukunaga. It also has a new release date, Feb. 14, 2020, according to an official announcement.

That’s a mixed bag, but at least work is moving ahead.

Feb. 15, 2019: New release date is announced, now April 2020. The news was a bit of a letdown to Bond fans who had started their “one year to go” countdowns the previous day.

April 25, 2019: Eon conducts a livestream event in Jamaica ahead of the start of the production of Bond 25. There are some technical hiccups. There’s still no title. But, hey, filming is starting at long last.

We’re on our way now. What could go wrong?

May 22, 2019: Eon confirms Daniel Craig suffered an injury and will have ankle surgery. It’s not the firm time Craig has gotten hurt. Eon says the April release date is still in effect.

June 4, 2019: There’s an explosion at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. No serious injuries but the optics weren’t the best.

007 Stage after the June 4, 2019 incident.

Aug. 20, 2019: Bond 25 gets a title — No Time to Die. This helps re-establish momentum and anticipation. A title helps things seem more real. A movie is actually coming.

Oct. 25, 2019: Eon announces filming has concluded. Whatever bumps took place, the movie is done. Anticipation builds.

Over the next few months, the first trailer comes out, an expensive ad appears during the Super Bowl and plans for a world premiere get announced.

Then, on March 4, Bond 25/No Time to Die is delayed to November 2020. This week, it was delayed again to April 2021. In both cases, the actions stem from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic has slammed a lot of industries, including the film industry.

The point of bringing all this up is that Bond 25 has had 1) a lot of ups and downs and 2) had those ups and downs for an extended time.

As a result, if fans are feeling a little whipsawed, there’s good reason.

The movie is sitting there, presumably secure and ready to be shown. When that happens, anticipation will build yet again. But nobody should blame fans for feeling a little uneasy at this point.

Bond-related emoji reappear on Twitter

No Time to Die poster

James Bond-related emoji have reappeared on Twitter.

The hashtag #BondJamesBond and #JamesBond create a 007 logo to accompany it. The hashtag #NoTimeToDie gets you an Aston Martin DB5 emoji.

That doesn’t happen by accident. In this case, studios pay for the privilege (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists Releasing and Universal with this example).

Such emojis were seen on Twitter early this year ahead of No Time to Die’s original April release date. After the movie was delayed until November, the emojis went away as well.

Naturally, this development did not go unnoticed by Bond fans. There’s speculation that another No Time to Die trailer is ready to pop and the 25th Bond film will make that November release date.

As usual, we’ll see.

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.

Broccoli & Wilson considered ‘shutting down’ B25: EW

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “considered shutting down” No Time to Die “entirely” after the film’s first director, Danny Boyle departed, Entertainment Weekly said, citing comments from Broccoli during an interview for a new EW story.

The entertainment publication didn’t provide additional details. It merely says the production continued after the producers met Cary Fukunaga, who got hired as the new director.

Eon Productions makes the Bond films and controls the franchise along with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. No Time to Die is being released by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. with Universal internationally. Presumably those parties would have had to be consulted had a shutdown been ordered.

The movie originally had a fall 2019 release date. With Boyle’s departure because of “creative differences,” it was pushed back, first to February 2020 and finally to its current April 2020 release.

Some other details in the EW story:

–David Dencik plays a kidnapped scientist referenced in previously released plot summaries.

–Broccoli appears to deny that Lashana Lynch’s Nomi character received the 007 designation after Bond left MI6. “People write these theories without knowing,” Broccoli told EW. The Mail on Sunday reported in July 2019 that Nomi had been assigned the 007 code number in the film

UPDATE (4:55 p.m. New York time): Reader Jeffrey Westhoff notes that Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel (where Lashana Lynch was a co-star) wrote a tweet in December where she believed Lynch’s character had the 007 code number.

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One NTTD question we have no answer for

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Occasionally, the blog has “question edition” posts about Bond 25/No Time to Die. Usually, the blog provides some evidence of the answers. For this post, we can only guess.

Why is there an Eon Productions logo in the trailer for The Rhythm Section but not for No Time to Die?

Probably language in contracts. But your guess is as good as mine.

The Rhythm Section trailer has logos for Paramount (studio that’s releasing the movie), Global Road (major co-financing entity) and Eon (company that made the movie).

No Time to Die’s trailer has logos for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) and Universal (handling international distribution). Not mentioned is United Artists Releasing, the joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures.

United Artists Releasing is performing distribution duties for No Time to Die in the United States.  It is referenced in the first poster for the movie, down toward the bottom.

MGM and Annpurna formed the joint venture to perform U.S. distribution of each other’s movies. MGM movies would have the MGM logo, Annapurna films would have the Annapurna logo. The joint venture was announced in the fall of 2017. The United Artists Releasing name was announced on the 100th anniversary of the formation of United Artists in early 2019.

No Time to Die poster competition announced

No Time to Die teaser poster. Apparently, the powers that be want something better.

No Time to Die is seeking “the brightest and the best artists, illustrators to come up with a poster design for 007,” star Daniel Craig says in a video that’s embedded in a post from the official James Bond account on Twitter.

“We are looking for bold, brave options that capture the essence of James Bond,” he added. “We cannot wait to see what you come up with.”

Well, that’s a twist.

In the “old days” (1960s and ’70s), Bond film posters were known for colorful illustrations, especially for the likes of Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

More recently, Bond posters tended to be photo-based, in particular, 2012’s Skyfall, which had a figure of Craig on his back shooting with a 007 logo in the background.

THIS WEBSITE has additional information about the competition.

“As James Bond returns for his 25th adventure, EON Productions, MGM, Universal Pictures International and United Artists Releasing want young creators to make their own mark on the iconic visual history of the James Bond franchise,” according to that website. “Be inspired by all the content on this hub, and submit your artwork to the brief below!”

Good luck to all those who wish to enter the competition. Here’s the tweet from the official 007 Twitter feed.

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UPDATE (3:15 p.m. New York time): By the way, if you submit something, those companies own it and you can’t get it back. That’s how things work in the big city.

UPDATE II (4:30 p.m., New York time): To view the submission guidelines, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE III: Here’s the video that is also embedded in that tweet: