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2nd May 2020

Rumors swirl that No Time To Die may suffer another release date delay

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Could another delay be on the cards for the 25th James Bond film 'No Time To Die'?

A few days ago, a release window war kicked off between Universal and AMC when the studio (who is distributing 'No Time To Die' outside of North America) revealed their success with premium on demand streaming of their new titles that were pulled from cinemas when the Coronavirus pandemic shuttered screens. AMC retaliated with a ban of Universal movies from all their chains unless Universal backed down and reverted to the 90-day 'only in theatres' exclusive release window. The impasse remains.

With that backdrop comes news that MGM may be considering punting the release of 'No Time To Die' to sometime in 2021 to ensure cinemas are back open to full capacity. MGM is said to be against a digital release strategy, in contrast to Universal.

"If it has to wait till next year then so be it,'  a source told the usually-reliable Baz Bamigboye in the Daily Mail. "There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved here. Release it when audiences feel safe to return. But it's a nerve-racking call."

The pressure is down to when and if a move is made. Studios are quickly snapping up 2021 release dates as dozens of big movies are seeing delays of over a year. There is an uncertainty that cinemas will be widely reopened by November. California recently published its phased re-opening plan and it is probable that cinemas will only be running at 25% capacity by November. Does MGM move 'No Time To Die' again now to ensure a good spot in 2021, or hold on until later in the year when a better picture of the worldwide situation will be available? MGM has already lost a reported $30m on marketing the film for its April  2020 date that has since been and gone - it may be gunshy about spending more money on a date that will inevitably change again.

Most of the industry coverage has been about the mechanics of a release and cinema capacity, but one aspect that has been often overlooked is consumer sentiment. A recent survey of 200,000 people in the United States found that only 73% would feel comfortable going back to cinemas 6 months after the COVID-19 pandemic is cleared. Even if everyone was immune from the virus tomorrow, that puts 007's plans for a November release at a significant box-office disadvantage. 

A push to 2021 would still not create the largest break between Bond films ever. Back in 1995, 6 years, 3 months, and 30 days had passed between the world premiere of 'Licence To Kill' in 1989 and the return of 007 to screens with 'GoldenEye'. Even if 'No Time To Die' pushes to April 2021, that would 'only' be a break of 5 years and 5 months.

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