The film industry has been left reeling by the perhaps not unexpected news that the release of Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond has been delayed for a second time, because of the ongoing uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Originally scheduled to hit the big screen this April, it was one of the first films to be pushed back amid fears that fewer people would be able to make it to cinemas, but with America’s biggest markets, Los Angeles and New York, still closed and the virus surging again across Europe, Bond’s producers and distributor have clearly decided that next month’s rescheduled release won’t bring in anything like enough at the box office to cover their costs.
Despite the hype created by the recent trailer for Bond 25, among the large costs already incurred by anticipating the release, the prospects of a 2020 launch won’t have been helped by Tenet’s disappointing takings, as the litmus test for the post Covid cinema world.
That left No Time To Die as the torch bearer for the industry, but now, draining even more confidence from the business, fans will have to wait until next April, a full year after its original release date, to see how Craig bows out of the role. The decision also buys the producers time to find a successor. In a statement on the official 007 website, they said, “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 2021 in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience. We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans.”
The announcement poses a devastating blow to an industry that’s been brought to its knees by the pandemic, as it hoped that Bond could give the exhibition side of the business a boost. Only this morning, the BFI announced the first 42 independent cinemas to receive support from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
A number of other major films have had their releases delayed or moved online as a result of the biggest global health crisis in generations, and the Bond decision could prompt Warner Bros to follow suit with Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune, which are currently slated for a Christmas release.
Cinemas will now be waiting to see what Disney decides to do with its upcoming Pixar feature Soul. It’s currently listed to hit cinemas next month but it could now be knocked into next year, or moved to the studio’s new streaming service Disney+, to follow Mulan, which drew anger from many subscribers, when they learned they would have to pay extra to watch it.
With medics worldwide warning that we’re going backwards in the handling of Covid-19, production are being held up as studios decide what to do with the film so they managed to finish before the crisis exploded, weighing up whether it’s better to bring in less money now or wait for a bigger return later.
Whether there are many cinemas left to show the films once the pandemic has subsided could well depend on decisions made in the run-up to Christmas.