'No Time to Die' meets domestic box office expectations, continues to kill overseas

·4 min read

"No Time to Die" has given "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" almost no time to bask in its record-breaking theatrical debut, unseating the Marvel blockbuster atop the domestic box office with a solid $56 million opening, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Distributed domestically by United Artists Releasing via MGM and EON, the latest installment in the James Bond franchise squarely met expectations in North American markets this weekend while continuing to make a killing overseas.

"No Time to Die" comes in fourth place behind other Daniel Craig-starring Bond entries "Quantum of Solace," which launched domestically at $67.5 million in 2008; "Skyfall," which raked in $88.3 million in 2012; and "Spectre," which grossed $70.4 million in 2015.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the highly anticipated film also stars Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes and Ana de Armas.

Before hitting U.S. theaters, Craig's final outing as 007 notched a whopping $119.1 million internationally last weekend — exceeding projections and becoming the first film since the COVID-19 crisis to launch at more than $100 million abroad without playing in China.

As of Sunday, the long-delayed spy adventure was eyeing an international cumulative of $257.3 million and a global cumulative of $313.3 million.

"The character is decidedly from outside of North America. The international flair and flavor of the Bond movies, and the locations that these movies are shot in — I mean, you can sit in a movie theater and be transported all over the world in a Bond movie — that makes these films naturally have international appeal," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore.

"I think that's why this film is already at over $300 million globally."

The worldwide draw of the Bond saga also heavily informed United Artists Releasing and international distributor Universal's move to repeatedly postpone the film, which was the first major title to abandon its original release date at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the movie was first postponed in early March 2020, "international territories were shutting down, and it was Italy that was having a problem," said Erik Lomis, head of distribution for United Artists Releasing.

"The Bond films have historically been so heavily weighted overseas ... it was not going to be a viable option to keep the date. And then when we moved it, I thought the U.S. was going to be fine. ... I thought, even if [COVID-19] got here, it wouldn't get here that quickly. And my customers were going crazy, saying I jumped the gun."

Fast forward nearly two years, and "No Time to Die" is among several blockbuster properties endeavoring to lure cautious moviegoers back into theaters after an unprecedented and widespread cinema shutdown triggered by the public health crisis.

"Even as much as two, three months ago, we were not sure we were going to be able to open" in the U.S., Lomis said.

What separates the Bond films from those of other major movie institutions, however, is their target demographic. Because of the franchise's decades-long, storied history, the audience for 007 entries tends to skew a bit older. And moviegoers over 45, for example, don't typically rush to theaters all at once on opening weekend, Dergarabedian said.

Still, 57 percent of North American viewers for "No Time to Die" were over 35 and 36 percent were over 45, according to United Artists Releasing. Sixty-four percent were male. For 30 percent of those over 45, "No Time to Die" marked their first trip to a theater since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Given the demographic pull for the film, we can't expect the same kind of box office" success attained by younger-skewing properties, such as "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" — which set the three-day weekend, pandemic box office record last week at $90.1 million — from a Bond film, Dergarabedian said.

"These movies go way back, but the biggest opening weekend for any Bond movie was 'Skyfall,'" Dergarabedian added. "No Bond movie has ever opened over $100 million, but they do tend to ... have long-term playability."

Speaking of "Let There Be Carnage," the sophomore installment in the wildly popular "Venom" franchise occupied the No. 2 slot at the domestic box office this weekend with $32 million — a 64 percent drop — for a North American cumulative of $141.7 million.

Rounding out the top five are the animated Halloween flick "Addams Family 2," which scared up $10 million for a cumulative $31.1 million; Marvel's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which added $4.2 million for a cumulative $212.5 million; and "Sopranos" prequel "The Many Saints of Newark," which made $1.5 million for a cumulative $7.4 million.

Up next is the latest installment in the ever-popular “Halloween” saga (Oct. 15) and Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve’s star-studded adaptation of “Dune” (Oct. 22).

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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