Earlier this summer, things looked hopeful for the movie industry after the COVID-19 pandemic took a major ax to the theater industry. Now, though, thanks to cases increasing and the delta variant causing so much uncertainty, studios are rethinking their release windows once again. However, MGM’s next James Bond installment, No Time to Die might not be able to do that a fourth time.
The film was originally supposed to hit theaters in April of 2020, a full month after the entire world changed and suddenly large indoor gatherings like the ones found in a typical movie theater were no longer a thing. It was an unprecedented challenge that No Time To Die was among the first to respond to by simply pushing its release date to a time when, hopefully, things would be better.
Cut to August of 2021 when things are decidedly not better for the theater industry and No Time To Die has pushed its release multiple times, now sitting not-so-pretty on an Oct. 8, 2021, planned theatrical release. Meanwhile, streaming services like Disney+ and Warner Bros. HBO Max are having a bit of a field day as they simultaneously release 2021 tentpoles like Black Widow and TheSuicide Squad respectively in theaters and on their streaming platforms. Box office numbers are way lower, but streaming numbers are going through the roof.
Unfortunately, that’s not an option for No Time To Die. MGM, the home of Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, doesn’t have a parent company with a shiny new streaming service to kick the can to. In addition, reports indicate that the film is already on the cusp of losing money as its multiple delays cost the studio hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising with each change and delay. At this point, even pivoting to a streaming service would cost the film money that it likely won’t make up in theaters.
Meanwhile, No Time To Die runs the risk of being forced to debut in theaters in a climate in which the casual moviegoer is not only uncomfortable going to the cinema for fear of the delta variant, but has also grown used to tuning into 2021 releases from the comfort and safety of their home.
No Time To Die isn’t alone. Fans of Tom Hardy’s Venom were upset to learn earlier this month that Sony has once again pushed the release of its sequel back, putting Venom: Let There Be Carnage in a similar situation to James Bond. Meanwhile, Sony’s other titles like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Top Gun: Maverick are essentially finished products that the studio is letting collect dust on the shelf for fear that they’ll debut to theaters that simply won’t be able to put butts in seats. As it is, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the summer has seen significantly diminished box office returns on major tentpole films. Black Widow opened strong (for the pandemic) at $80 million in early July. Fellow Disney event pic Jungle Cruise fell by more than half that to $35 million by the end of the month. Now, James Gunn is reckoning with his The Suicide Squad only earning $26.2 million during its opening weekend in theaters.
While James Bond has found himself in a myriad of sticky situations throughout the decades, it seems the coronavirus may be his greatest enemy to date. No Time To Die likely can’t push its release any further. Therefore, push may come to shove and Daniel Craig’s final spin behind the wheel of Bond’s Aston Martin may go out not with a bang, but with a whimper.