No Time to Die: Waiting for news

New No Time to Die poster

So are we any closer to knowing the fate of No Time to Die?

Answer: Not really.

A Dutch fan site, in an Aug. 3 post, says (via Google translate) there’s a “pretty big” chance that the 25th James Bond film will make its currently scheduled November release date.

“Maybe even 70%.,” according to the website.

The thing is, Bond fans don’t know. It’s hard to tell if the studios involved (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, or Universal, which is handling international distribution) know at this point.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a moving target. The United States is the global hot spot for the pandemic, with some of its most-populated states (Florida, Texas and California) some of the worst locations for the pandemic.

Do studios follow the pattern that Warner Bros. seems to be following with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (an international release in August with a limited U.S. release in September)?

The thing is, AT&T owned-Warner Bros. is a bigger operation than MGM. Warner Bros. has more options than MGM, the run of Hollywood’s studio litter, has.

For now, there’s a lot more uncertainty than certainty. We’ll see.

Nolan’s Tenet is delayed again; what it means

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, Tenet, has been delayed yet again, according to Variety. The move may have significance beyond that.

Tenet originally was scheduled to come out on July 17. It was pushed back a couple of times, most recently to Aug. 12. Warner Bros., in effect, was gambling it could get people back into theaters amid the pandemic stemming from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Steven Zeitchik, a writer for The Washington Post, suggested the latest development may be a twist in how studios have been releasing films in recent years.

Warner Bros. left the door open for the movie to come out in other countries by the end of the summer — before it is released in the U.S. But that too will depend on conditions overseas.

The postponement scuttles Hollywood’s plan for a mid-summer reopening and is likely to delay other entertainment-reopening plans across the country.

Why should James Bond fans care about this?

No Time to Die was made during a pre-pandemic time. The notion was you’d roll out a movie as soon as possible globally.

With COVID-19, that may not be possible. The coronavirus appears to be under control in much of Asia and much of Europe. But there are major breakouts of COVID-19 in the U.S., including some of the country’s most populated states (Florida, Texas and California).

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) and Universal (which is handling No Time to Die’s international distribution) have to take all of this into account. For now, No Time to Die is scheduled to come out in November.

Bond 25 questions: Another delay (?) edition

New (well, tweaked) No Time to Die character poster

There is a report (via the MI6 James Bond website) that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal are seriously considering pushing back No Time to Die’s release to the summer of 2021.

The movie currently has a November release date. This week’s news follows a series of delays in the release date for the 25th James Bond film.

Naturally, the blog has some questions.

Can’t the movie come out on a video on demand (VOD) format?

There’s not enough cash involved to make a profit on a movie that cost $250 million (give or take a million or two) to make.

Such expensive movies need to have as many revenue sources as possible. And for a pricey film like No Time to Die, that means a theatrical release — whenever it can happen.

Meanwhile, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (the Bond franchise’s home studio) doesn’t have deep pockets.

Maybe a big studio can roll the dice and put a “tentpole” movie out first on VOD. But MGM ain’t it.

But I’m 60 or older and am among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Why can’t we go ahead with VOD?

Studios don’t care about you. Neither do advertisers or most marketers (except for makers of catheters or other products intended for older people).

Put another way, once you hit 50 years old, you’re nothing to them.

Who do they care about?

Younger people who have to buy a lot more products than their parents and grandparents. In the case of movie studios, younger people are more likely to see movies.

But I’m a long-time fan! I’ve followed Bond for decades!

See answer for question 2.

Isn’t that a cynical outlook?

The studio bosses don’t think so. That’s the way it is.

MGM, Universal consider 2021 NTTD date, MI6 says

No Time to Die poster

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal are considering pushing No Time to Die’s release date to a “Summer 2021 release window,” the MI6 James Bond website said.

A decision on such a move “will be due soon,” the website reported.

The 25th James Bond film currently is scheduled for November after a delay from April.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has jumbled movie release schedules. Films such as Tenet, a new Christopher Nolan movie, have had multiple release dates.

In March, when the decision was made to delay No Time to Die until November, COVID-19 had caused theaters in China to shut down and Italy was the site of a major outbreak in Europe. Marketing for No Time to Die was well underway when the delay to November was announced.

Since then, Asia and Europe have moved to contain the virus. But major states in the U.S. — including Florida, Texas and California — have had major outbreaks. Theaters in the U.S. have been deciding when and how to reopen.

No Time to Die is being released in the U.S. by United Artists Releasing, co-owned by MGM, and by Universal internationally. MGM also is Bond’s home studio.

The last James Bond film to have a summer release date was 1989’s Licence to Kill.

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.

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.

NTTD stumbles into a long-term theater-video conflict

Universal logo

No Time to Die, through no fault of its own, has stumbled into an inflection point concerning the future of entertainment.

Namely, will traditional movie theaters remain a key player? Or has the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) forced a shift to video on demand (VOD)?

This week, AMC Theaters, which also owns the Odeon chain in the U.K., said it won’t show any more movies from Universal.

The latter, because theaters are shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, brought out the animated movie Trolls: World Tour on premium VOD. Universal executives declared the move a success after charging consumers directly for viewing it.

That rubbed AMC the wrong way, prompting the financially troubled theater chain to make its declaration about banning Universal movies. (CLICK HERE to read The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the conflict.)

How does No Time to Die figure into this? Universal is distributing the 25th James Bond film internationally, including the U.K., while United Artists Releasing (co-owned by Bond home studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) handle North American distribution.

If AMC sticks to its guns, that means the Odeon chain won’t be showing No Time to Die, currently scheduled for release in November. Odeon theaters and the Bond film series have a long history together.

To be sure, AMC’s stance may end up being the opening salvo in a long negotiation. Theaters currently have a 90-day window to show films before they go to home video. Perhaps AMC and Universal negotiate a “new normal.”

The conventional wisdom is that big, expensive “tentpole” movies such as No Time to Die, or the Fast and the Furious or Jurassic Park movies (the latter two Universal products) need both a theatrical as well as home video releases. Less expensive movies can get by with VOD alone.

But will that be true in a post-COVID-19 future? Hard to say for sure.

People have been predicting the end of movie theaters since at least the 1970s. At least, that’s the first time I heard such predictions.

Movie theaters have hung on. Still, when change happens, it doesn’t wait. Both Jack Lugo of the James Bond Radio website and the MI6 James Bond website published stories on May 29 analyzing the trends involved.

The thing is, had No Time to Die met its original release date (fall 2019) or its second (February 2020, before COVID-19 was a factor), none of this would really matter.

Instead, the delays put the Bond film into the middle of an entertainment industry debate on how to proceed. COVID-19 has shaken everything up. Walt Disney Co., less than six months ago, seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut.

Today? Not so much. Disney’s movie release schedule is scrambled, its theme parks are closed and its ESPN network has few live sports events to telecast. Life comes at you fast.

At this point, the answers about the future of cinema aren’t certain. The fate of No Time to Die is just one of many variables.

(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.”

MGM’s NTTD shift may cost $30M-$50M, THR says

New No Time to Die poster

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer may take a hit of $30 million to $50 million by moving No Time to Die’s release date, The Hollywood Reporter said. But not moving the date could have cost more, the outlet said, citing people it didn’t identify.

MGM, James Bond’s home studio, Eon Productions and Universal (the international distributor) said this week the 25th James Bond film is being moved to November from April.

THR said MGM “fully financed” No Time to Time, which has an estimated production budget of $250 million.

The entertainment news outlet said had MGM stuck with the April release, that would have been more costly because of markets where theaters were shut down because of the coronavirus.

Theaters in China, Japan and Italy have been closed. “That could have resulted in a minimum of 30 percent shaved off the final box-office tallies — a possible $300 million out of a likely $1 billion haul at the worldwide box office,” THR said.

Earlier this week, the MI6 James Bond website and The James Bond Dossier urged MGM, Universal and Eon Productions to delay the release because of health hazards stemming from the coronavirus. The open letter was published March 2 and the decision to delay was announced March 4.

The open letter, besides citing the health risks, said No Time to Die faced lower box office prospects because of efforts to combat coronavirus.

“Of the countries with large public gatherings banned or restricted, their combined ‘SPECTRE’ box-office was $313m, or 38% of the global haul,” the open letter said. SPECTRE, released in 2015, was the most recent Bond film.