Latest James Bond Film Falls Behind Predecessors as Covid-19 Concerns Linger

LOS ANGELES—James Bond lastly confronted off on the field workplace towards a foe he couldn’t appear to shake, and the end result was one thing of a draw.

The twenty fifth installment within the Bond franchise, “No Time to Die,” opened to an estimated $56 million within the U.S. and Canada after the film was delayed for greater than a yr on account of Covid-19. Even although auditoriums all over the world have largely reopened, the lingering results of the pandemic appeared to dent the film’s efficiency, which runs a bit behind its predecessors within the sequence.

In 2015, as an illustration, “Spectre” opened to $70 million, whereas the 2012 hit “Skyfall” premiered to $88 million. Of the 5 Bond motion pictures starring

Daniel Craig

as the key agent, “No Time to Die” has the second-slowest begin.

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Covid-19 seems partially responsible. Bond motion pictures in recent times have attracted older audiences than blockbusters produced by Marvel Studios or primarily based on different sequel-generating characters. That older demographic has proved among the many most reluctant to return to theaters, which helps clarify why latest releases “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” have topped expectations and drawn in crowds.

“No Time to Die” has served as one more metric of the place the nation’s theatrical enterprise stands after a yr of postponements and shutdowns. “No Time to Die” was among the many first motion pictures to delay launch as Covid-19 swept the globe in March 2020, and its quite a few subsequent schedule modifications signaled that the pandemic was going to last more than many initially anticipated. Now its efficiency illustrates the rising pains nonetheless to return, as big-budget releases that depend on gross sales from all forms of moviegoers solely see sure demographics returning to auditoriums in pre-pandemic numbers.

United Artists Releasing, which distributes Bond motion pictures for its studio, MGM Holdings Inc., carried out a survey of opening-weekend audiences in six cities and located that roughly one-quarter of the moviegoers seeing “No Time to Die” this weekend had not been to a film in 18 months.

“You have to get them used to coming back,” stated

Erik Lomis,

president of distribution at United Artists Releasing. “The 18- to 34-year olds are driving the box office now,” he stated, and 57% of this weekend’s Bond viewers was older than 35.

In distinction, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which has drawn in youthful moviegoers, collected $32 million in its second week, bringing its complete to a strong $142 million. It was launched by

Sony Group Corp.’s

SONY 1.33%

Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Overseas, the grosses for “No Time to Die” had been more healthy. The film has made a further $257 million from worldwide markets to date, the place MGM splits distribution duties with Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

“No Time to Die” stars Mr. Craig in his final flip as 007. The actor is credited with revitalizing the franchise since getting the position in 2006’s “Casino Royale.”

In franchise-obsessed Hollywood, James Bond continues to be one of many marquee properties, and the character was among the many crown jewels of

Amazon.com Inc.’s

AMZN -0.42%

acquisition of MGM, introduced earlier this yr. The tech firm is paying $6.5 billion, excluding debt, for the storied studio, greatest recognized for hits from Hollywood’s so-called Golden Era, together with “Singin’ in the Rain,” and newer classics like “The Silence of the Lambs.”

But Amazon received’t be controlling Bond, which is managed primarily by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, stepsiblings who in 1995 inherited the rights to the character from Ms. Broccoli’s father.

The duo have important inventive say within the franchise, together with in deciding who steps into 007’s footwear. Though Amazon’s buy of MGM was seen as doubling down on its streaming technique, the producers have stated they’re dedicated to preserving James Bond movies on the massive display screen.

During the months of coronavirus-related delays, rumors swirled round Hollywood that MGM may unload “No Time to Die” to a streaming service that will permit it to premiere within the dwelling, as different studios had carried out with main titles.

“We held this movie for a long time so we could deliver it where it was intended to be seen,” stated Mr. Lomis.

Write to Erich Schwartzel at erich.schwartzel@wsj.com

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