Cinemas trust in Bond’s No Time to Die to crush Covid downturn

Tickets on sale next week for Daniel Craig’s last spy outing, which will have world premiere in UK

Last modified on Fri 10 Sep 2021 09.23 EDT

British cinema owners are quietly confident that when tickets go on sale next week for Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond demand will ensure the biggest box office hit since the start of the pandemic.

No Time to Die, the 25th instalment of the spy franchise, gets its world premiere in the UK on 30 September, having been rescheduled three times since April 2020. Bond mania could make it the first film to bring cinemas back to their pre-pandemic popularity.

“We are so excited about the return of James Bond to the big screen at the end of this month,” said Carol Welch, the managing director of Odeon, the UK’s biggest cinema chain. “There is good momentum in the business and we have been really encouraged by the reaction of those returning to our cinemas.”

Craig’s five outings as Bond have grossed more than £340m at the UK box office, and over $3.6bn (£2.6bn) globally, and are the most commercially successful in the franchise – unadjusted for inflation.

The highest-grossing of Craig’s Bond films to date has been 2012’s Skyfall, whose £103m UK box office takings make it the second biggest earner of all time after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Die Another Day in 2002 was Craig’s least successful outing at £36m.

The biggest films at the UK box office since the pandemic began have been Peter Rabbit 2 (£20.3m) and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (£18.7m), levels that cinema owners are confident No Time To Die will eclipse.

The 'curse' of James Bond's No Time To Die

Despite once saying he would rather take his own life than reprise his role as 007, Daniel Craig confirms he will return as James Bond for the franchise’s 25th movie.

Danny Boyle confirms he is working on a script for the next Bond film alongside his Trainspotting collaborator John Hodge.

EON Productions’ Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the custodians of the Bond movies, confirm production will begin at the start of December 2018, with the film released in the UK on 25 October 2019 and in the US a fortnight later.

Boyle quits the movie over ‘creative differences’. Sources close to the production confirm that the next 007 movie will miss its scheduled release date, after disputes between the director, producers and star Craig

Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade return to James Bond for a seventh time, following Boyle’s late-hour departure from the project. True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga is named as the new director.

Another new writer arrives as Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z Burns is hired to rewrite the screenplay. The working title of the film – Shatterhand – is released to widespread derision.

At the risk of being labelled ‘too PC’ about the climate emergency, it emerges that Bond will be behind the wheel of an electric Aston Martin Rapide E in the new film.

Riding high on the back of the success of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is reported to have been brought in to liven up new Bond script. The production enjoys a glitzy launch in Jamaica, officially adding Rami Malek to the cast, but failing to reveal the movie’s new name. 

Daniel Craig requires surgery on an ankle injured during the filming, putting him out of action for at least two weeks. The official James Bond social media account announced the news, saying production would continue while Craig ‘rehabilitates’.

An explosion on the set injures a crew member and damages the outside of the famous 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire.

The name of the movie is revealed to be No Time To Die.

The first release date for the movie passes as Covid begins to impact world cinema.

A second proposed release date slips, as coronavirus continues to affect the global economy.

Yet another delay as release is pushed back again until 8 October 2021, 14 months later than planned.

“Bond is 100% going to be the biggest film since the pandemic in the UK,” said a senior executive at another of the UK’s biggest movie chains. “It should be at pre-Covid levels or very close. I’m not sure if it will be the biggest globally, Fast and the Furious 9 has made over $700m and only two Bond films have managed that to date. A lot also depends on which markets are open at the time, Australia is currently closed as are parts of Japan and China for example, but Daniel Craig is the biggest box office Bond we’ve seen.”

Highest grossing films in the UK since the pandemic

1. Peter Rabbit 2: £20.3m
2. Black Widow: £18.7m
3. Tenet: £17.4m
4. Fast & Furious 9: £16.4m
5. The Suicide Squad: £13.8m
Source: Comscore

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