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No Time For Indecision

2nd March 2020

An open letter to EON, MGM, and Universal about the Coronavirus epidemic

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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After enduring three delays in production already, it is by no means easy to say this: the release of 'No Time To Die' should be postponed.

With the Coronavirus reaching pandemic status, it is time to put public health above marketing release schedules and the cost of canceling publicity events.

Major events around the world have already been canceled or postponed due to health risks. Leading tech companies have banned travel for hundreds of thousands of employees, including Amazon and Google. All before the US and UK outbreaks expand.

Developed nations that are suffering from community spread of the virus, including Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea have banned large public gatherings. Italy closed all cinemas in their 'red zone' last night. The outbreaks in the UK and the USA are just starting to trend towards epidemics. 

China and Japan have closed theatres for weeks. The Chinese box-office in January and February 2019 combined to $1.5b. The same period this year has netted just $3.9m - a 99.7% drop.

Of the countries with large public gatherings banned or restricted, their combined 'SPECTRE' box-office was $313m, or 38% of the global haul.

No Time To Die Corona-Virus
Could this be the enduring image of No Time To Die? Photo taken in Thailand this week.

With a month to go before 'No Time To Die' opens worldwide, community spread of the virus is likely to be peaking in the United States. Today, Washington declared a state of emergency. There is a significant chance that cinemas will be closed, or their attendance severely reduced, by early April. Even if there are no legal restrictions on cinemas being open, to quote M in Skyfall, "how safe do you feel?"

Publicity tours for 007 in China, South Korea, and Japan have already been canceled. The release in Hong Kong was pushed to April 30th. These are sensible actions that should be applauded.

That brings us to the world premiere for No Time To Die set for March 31st in London. Hundreds of fans and celebrities from around the world will be flying to the UK to attend. The Royal Albert Hall capacity is above the 5,000 limit that affected countries are banning for public gatherings. Just one person, who may not even show symptoms, could infect the rest of the audience. This is not the type of publicity anyone wants.

The UK and US outbreaks are in their early stages, but if they follow the predictable pattern of other developed countries, the situation by late March and early April will not be conducive to the box-office.

Delay the release of 'No Time To Die' until the summer when experts expect the epidemics to have peaked and to be under control. It’s just a movie. The health and well-being of fans around the world, and their families, is more important. We have all waited over 4 years for this film. Another few months will not damage the quality of the film and only help the box-office for Daniel Craig’s final hurrah.

James Page, co-founder of MI6 and MI6 Confidential magazine

David Leigh, founder of The James Bond Dossier

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The opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MI6-HQ.com or its owners.

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