By all initial accounts, No Time To Die, the final turn for Daniel Craig as James Bond was a hit. After facing numerous pandemic-related delays, the flick finally hit theaters back in early October and began quickly racking up big dollars at the box office. Coming out of a time of uncertainty for the movie industry, and theaters especially, the flick sure seemed to qualify as a hit. But there are reports that despite a seemingly huge box office haul for Daniel Craig and company, that the film is set to lose the studio a considerable amount of money.
Now, sometimes Hollywood accounting around this kind of thing can enter a lot of different grey areas. Reported numbers around expenses and overall production costs can vary and studios aren’t always going to be completely forthright with their goals for a film. When it comes to Daniel Craig and No Time To Die, Variety had reported that while the original receipts had the film earning more than $730 million during its more than month-long theater run, this was going to have it poised to lose MGM possibly more than $100 million dollars when it was all said and done.
According to industry insiders, there was speculation that the Daniel Craig starrer had to hit the $900 million dollar mark in order to just even break even for the studio. This was after factoring in not only the cost of the production but also marketing and promotional pieces. MGM, in an official statement, did push back against this initial report and said in a statement that the numbers were incorrect and they actually made money from No Time to Die. Why the discrepancy between industry insiders and the studio itself when it came to the Daniel Craig film? Well, it likely comes down to just what the internal metrics and goalposts are around a movie like this. “Losing” money can take a lot of different forms.
For a tentpole production like No Time to Die with a star like Daniel Craig, simply going 1:1 on production costs and box office receipts is an epic disaster. The expectation on films like those in the James Bond franchise is that they will wildly exceed any upfront costs. That’s why they are of the tentpole variety. They are supposed to help bankroll other productions from a studio. In this case “losing” money might simply mean not making anywhere near expectation. Maybe that’s dissonance, but it’s how studios operate.
Daniel Craig franchises aside, we are still at something of an inflection point for movies these days with the pandemic still in its later stages and theaters struggling, at times, to fill to capacity. MGM was quick to remind Variety and others that No Time to Die being available in the PVOD market was going to serve to bolster its numbers as well. As for James Bond the character, there is no word yet on who will replace Daniel Craig in the future. Even if this latest movie was seen as something of a disappointment, this is a franchise that will be around for quite a while.