‘No Time To Die’ Delayed To Easter Weekend 2021 As Pandemic Takes Grip At Box Office

MGM’s No Time to Die is officially heading to April 2, Easter weekend, and vacating its November 20 release date.

Interestingly enough, this puts the James Bond film starring Daniel Craig on the same weekend with Universal’s F9. I hear that the latter is bound to move. Universal is providing no comment on that release date change. UPDATE: The F9 release date indeed has changed..

“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today announced the release of No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until 2 April in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience.  We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing No Time To Die next year,” said the studio in a statement. MGM was the first studio to foresee how the pandemic was going to stall exhibition, and jumped No Time to Die from its Easter weekend release date of April 10-12 to the Thanksgiving frame.

No Time to Die stands to make $1 billion worldwide. Given that, it makes sense to release what is expected to be Craig’s final 007 film in an optimum, vibrant global marketplace.

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The decision comes at a time when the pandemic has gripped, not only New York City theaters (which it’s still unclear when they reopen), and Los Angeles (which could get the go-head to open in a couple of weeks), but also the United Kingdom, a prime 007 market that traditionally opens prior to domestic and grossed $125M on the last film Spectre and over $161M on 2012’s Skyfall. UK faces a possible lockdown, and that’s bad for Bond. This despite the fact that business is back to normal at the China box office.

While it’s good news for exhibition that MGM is keeping this a theatrical release, it’s horrible news in the short-term. Exhibition was banking on this movie, a notable IP compared to Christopher Nolan’s original Tenet (which has slowed at the domestic box office), and it would not be shocking to hear that some hardcore attrition in the exhibition space will take place. Still TBD on Disney’s Soul on Nov. 20. Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Croods: A New Age is sticking to its Nov. 25, Wednesday before Thanksgiving date.

God, hopefully, we’ll have a Christmas box office season with Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune. If not, there’s really no 2020 to the domestic box office.

Another monkey wrench here for No Time to Die is the movie’s promotional partners which are moving for a second time. Omega Watches, Adidas, Swatch and Heineken have all started their promotions. Typically when movies jump release dates, there are penalties incurred by the studio. Why? The advertiser has racked up shipping and product design costs, and such ad elements are on a schedule. It essentially becomes a negotiation between the studio and the brand as they all want to remain in business with each other down the road. Sometimes, a decision is made to simply allow the product that’s been shipped to be out there, and products remain part of the movie’s pre-awareness, and quite often with the studio not incurring financial penalties (i.e. Warner Bros. with Wonder Woman 1984 on Dorito bags this past summer, and Minions: The Rise of Gru toys on Wal-Mart shelves).

Word was percolating that MGM was bound to move No Time to Die but the studio was literally standing firm to stick to the Nov. 20 domestic date (and the Nov. 12 UK release, part of the first overseas swath) as long as they could. But, there’s too much uncertainty out there with COVID-19 and its impact on moviegoing.