Some truly shocking news hit this week when MGM announced that it had decided to delay the release of the new James Bond movie No Time to Die from this coming April to November. That’s a push of seven full months, on the heels of the beginning of a marketing campaign that included a $4.5 million Super Bowl ad, and the studio stands to lose up to a reported $50 million because of the release date change. And yet, all things considered, it was probably the right call.
MGM decided to delay No Time to Die in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which has caused theaters across the world to shut down from Japan all the way to Italy. The studio figured it would be best to wait and open the new Bond movie at a time when the box office potential isn’t hindered by these forced closures, and according to some reporting, they stood to lose a lot more money had they released the film as planned.
THR reports that MGM will likely take a hit of between $30 million and $50 million by delaying No Time to Die, but had they released the movie in April, they could have had a minimum of 30% shaved off the film’s worldwide box office total. And with designs on hitting that magic $1 billion number, 30% is a lot of money. Like, $300 million worth.
Indeed, No Time to Die cost around the same as Spectre to make, which a budget in the range of a whopping $245 million. And since Skyfall became the first Bond movie to cross $1 billion at the box office (Spectre fell a tad short at $880 million), it’s not outside the realm of possibility that No Time to Die could do the same. Especially given that the marketing hinges on selling this as Daniel Craig’s final performance as James Bond.
So yeah, $50 million may sound like a lot, but when your movie cost $245 million just to make, that’s a heck of a lot better than losing at least $300 million. So the economics of the decision to delay Bond make a lot of sense, and the new release date puts the movie in line with the November release of the previous films. No Time to Die was originally targeted to hit theaters in November 2019, but the exit of director Danny Boyle caused a delay in production that resulted in the unique April release date.
The decision to delay No Time to Die was not made lightly, and the studio and producers only came to the decision one day before it was publicly announced—as evidenced by the fact that Craig is still hosting SNL this weekend as a planned tie-in to the Bond film. And while it’s a bummer to now have to wait even longer to see director Cary Jojo Fukunaga’s stamp on the franchise, realizing the economics involved in releasing this movie with a swath of lucrative markets closed for business, it’s understandable.
So sit tight, folks. James Bond will return… in November.