'No Time To Die' is the first sign of turbulence at the box office for the latest wave of blockbuster hopefuls
"No Time to Die" earned $56 million in the US over the weekend, below expectations.
There might be trouble for would-be blockbusters in a crowded market still recovering from the pandemic.
Still, the movie is performing well internationally and has earned more than $300 million globally.
After a year-and-a-half delay, the James Bond film "No Time to Die" landed in North American theaters over the weekend. But the box office lacked the kind of punch some expected from star Daniel Craig's final outing as the character.
The movie earned $56 million over the weekend, below some projections and less than what the three previous Bond movies made in their US debuts.
Here's what all of Craig's previous Bond entries earned in their first weekends in the US:
"Casino Royale" (2006) - $40 million
"Quantum of Solace" (2008) - $67 million
"Skyfall" (2012) - $88 million
"Spectre" (2015) - $70 million
Expectations were high for "No Time to Die," which cost $250 million to produce, especially after the recent success of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," two theatrical exclusives that suggested audiences were ready to return to cinemas.
Box Office Pro forecasted the movie to open with $84 million over the weekend, while Sam Mendelsohn wrote for Box Office Mojo that "Spectre" numbers were possible for the movie.
"'No Time to Die's' performance can't help but feel like something of a letdown after tracking skyrocketed in the days leading up to release, with some indications pointing to a debut north of $100 million," Chris Eggertsen wrote for Box Office Pro on Sunday. "That was admittedly a major longshot, though 'Let There Be Carnage's' supersized opening had spurred hopes of a nine-digit opening."
Instead, "No Time to Die" suggests some turbulence for would-be blockbusters in a crowded marketplace that is still recovering from the pandemic. Paramount seemingly expected this this when it moved "Top Gun: Maverick" from this November to May 2022.
Still to come in October is "Halloween Kills" in theaters and on Peacock this weekend, along with Ridley Scott's "The Last Duel"; and "Dune" in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22. Marvel's "Eternals" opens on November 5 and will have little competition until "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" on November 19. Then November 24 sees the release of Disney's "Encanto" and "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.".
But even if movies hit some bumps at the box office, releasing them exclusively to theaters, rather than delaying them again, is what theater owners want studios to do.
"It's a process of growing back into the same kind of numbers from 2019," John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told Insider in an interview in August. "In order to get the industry growing again, and to keep theaters open, you have to make progress step by step."
It's not all bad news for "No Time to Die." It drove moviegoers aged 35 and up (57% of its audience), who "have been slow to return to the movies" during the pandemic, said Hollywood consultant David A. Gross.
"If anything kept the film from over-performing this weekend, it is the younger groups, who are less committed to the series," Gross said.
It's also performing well internationally and has already grossed $313 million globally, including its North American total. China, the largest theatrical market in the world, is still to come later this month. The Bond series isn't a staple in the country, but "Spectre" earned $83 million there, a franchise best.
Still, reaching the heights of "Skyfall" and "Spectre" - which grossed $1.1 billion and $880 million globally, respectively - seems out of the question. And the movie will likely finish its theatrical run with a disappointing figure when factoring in its hefty costs. Puck News' Matthew Belloni estimated that combined production and advertising costs were close to $500 million in a report on Thursday.
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