Following last year’s cancelation and this year’s postponements, the annual CineEurope convention kicks off today in Barcelona. And what better time for studios and overseas exhibition to come together and celebrate the theatrical experience as we come off of a banner international box office weekend led by MGM/Eon/Universal’s lively launch of No Time To Die.
The 25th James Bond movie opened beyond expectations with $121.3M from 54 offshore markets and set several records, be they for the pandemic era — or any era.
Having faced a series of its own date changes, the film had been anticipated by many as a potential turning point that would help resuscitate moviegoing around the globe. And, it’s not just 007 making turnstiles spin. Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage had a record-breaking early opening in Russia while domestically it devoured a stellar $90.1M debut.
Mooky Greidinger, CEO of the world’s second largest exhibitor, Cineworld, tells Deadline, “In the UK, we had the best weekend of the last more than two years. We are very satisfied with the (Bond) results, it’s beyond expectations.” Performance at Cineworld’s cinemas in Poland and other markets in Central Europe and Israel were “outstanding” as well. The weekend results, “proved that people really waited for Bond.”
Importantly, the slightly older-skewing Bond demo also turned up. Says Greidinger, “This weekend we clearly saw all ages in the cinemas.”
Greidinger is also bullish on Venom, which he calls “sensational,” noting that 75% of Regal parent Cineworld’s screens are in the U.S.
Combined, he says, “I think that if we will need to mark the turning point towards the fourth quarter that we have all been waiting for, it was the ideal weekend for this. Bond on one side of the ocean and Venom on the other side of the ocean. If we look at the lineup which is coming now on both sides until the end of the year, we can be optimistic. We need still to have our eyes open for Covid, it’s not over yet, but we are showing now that if we have the product, we can perform to top numbers even side-by-side with Covid.”
Tim Richards, CEO of major chain Vue International, says, “This last summer we had the audiences warmed up with Shang-Chi, Black Widow, Suicide Squad and others and we were operating at around 75/80% of pre-Covid rates. I think Bond is going to take us back to pre-Covid levels and we’re hoping to stay close to that through the end of the year.”
Of Bond’s UK launch, Richards comments, “Certainly this is not only a good post-Covid opening, this is a great overall opening” and “we will be looking back at Bond as being that watershed moment where things did get better.” Richards cites “very solid numbers across Europe in our other markets,” as well, with “pre-Covid levels of bookings.”
Looking ahead, parts of South East Asia and Australia are still struggling, but folks believe the markets will bounce back. Still on deck for further rollout, Warner Bros/Legendary’s Dune, which topped $100M overseas this weekend, has markets ahead like the UK and North America, Venom 2 ramps up its international release program on October 15, and following that exhibition is excited for Disney/Marvel’s The Eternals, Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Dis/20th Century’s West Side Story and The King’s Man, Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, Universal/Illumination’s Sing 2 and Warner’s The Matrix Resurrections among others.
Adds Greidinger, “We will also see many of the Academy Awards contenders like Spencer for example. These are not going to be huge blockbusters, but if you tie them all together I think we’re in very good shape.”
While the UK reopened its cinemas in May, and other markets in Europe followed suit over the summer, Richards says, “Now, we’re back and here to stay and continue where we left off in March of 2020. That’s the difference. I think this is sustainable, so I think everybody is pretty excited for the future… The audience is there and waiting and as the movies come out they will come out.”
No Time To Die set several IMAX records this weekend as well, while the format overall had a robust $30M global weekend that included great numbers from domestic (and Russia) opener Venom 2, and a trio of local China movies. Said Megan Colligan, President of IMAX Entertainment, “This weekend was an unqualified success, proving what today’s box office is capable of — not just with select regions or releases, but with a diverse offering of great content across every key region. The perception may be that these films are overperforming, but the reality is that many people are underestimating just how excited global consumers are to get back to the movies.”
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of Distribution for Universal Pictures International, tells Deadline, “We always believed that No Time To Die was meant to be seen on the big screen, but the circumstances had to be right. We worked with Eon and MGM to assess market factors including vaccination levels, consumer confidence, box office indicators and capacity restrictions, and it is so gratifying to see audiences come back in such strong numbers.”
She adds, “The No Time To Die results this weekend are a huge confidence boost for the entire industry. With the right circumstances and the right movie, audiences will come back and embrace the theatrical experience.”
For Steven O’Dell, President, International Releasing, Sony Pictures, “This weekend showed why theatrically exclusive movies have met every challenge since TVs and other at home options first came into existence and why they will continue to do so. Audiences love to be part of cultural events and we look to movies to make us feel something. The emotional experience we are seeking is heightened significantly when we share them with friends and strangers in a big, immersive environment. An event film like Venom: Let There Be Carnage seen on the big screen in a packed theater on opening weekend epitomizes this basic human desire… And we made sure there was no confusion that the only way to experience Venom this weekend was in your neighborhood cinema.”
Enthused O’Dell, “This was a great weekend to celebrate the business.”