The COVID-19 pandemic has left the movie release schedule for 2020 shaken and stirred, and very fittingly, it all began with No Time to Die. In early March, just weeks away from release and after very vocal fan feedback, Universal Pictures and MGM took the massive step of delaying the 25th James Bond movie to November. That set a precedent that several movie studios followed suit with as cinemas closed down in the face of the global pandemic.
Since then, as cinemas stayed closed longer than some suspected, a number of those movies have changed their release dates again, but director Cary Fukunaga’s eagerly anticipated No Time to Die has stayed in place. That may be about to change though as, according to regular James Bond scoopers MI6-HQ‘s sources, Universal and MGM are now actively considering a “Summer 2021” release for No Time to Die instead.
This new shakeup comes after analysts are predicting that due to the increase of cases in the US and UK, cinemas in both those key box office markets may keep their doors shut for the entirety of 2020. Cinemas in certain parts of China – the world’s second-largest movie market – have reopened, but recent legal stipulations don’t only limit the amount of people in the venue but also decree that movies shown in cinema cannot be longer than two hours. No Time to Die – which is set to be Daniel Craig’s epic swan song after having played the British super-spy for fourteen years – is currently pegged to have a whopping 2h45 minute running time.
It’s being reported that the studios and Bond franchise owner EON Productions has already lost over $30 million in advertising money caused by the previous delay. We’re rapidly approaching the traditional pre-release 90-day advertising ramp-up mark for No Time to Die, so a decision needs to be made soon. MGM’s United Artists are handling the US distribution of the film, while Universal handles the rest of the world and a delay to mid-2021 may actually suit them.
Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion is currently targeted for a June 2021 release, but the dino-sequel is probably going to get pushed back after losing months of filming due to the production lockdown. If that happens, Universal needs another tentpole blockbuster to take Jurassic World’s place and who better than another dinosaur? Well, a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur… a relic of the Cold War”, as Judi Dench’s M put it.
The last time James Bond got a mid-year release was 1989’s Licence to Kill which actually underperformed massively and ended Timothy Dalton’s tenure as Bond. Before that, the franchise had often been a summer blockbuster season staple. But as the June-August period became crammed with big franchise megaliths, Bond movies slipped to the much quieter early or late slots on the calendar, generally enjoying a lack of any serious box office competition on release. As things stand currently, the same is true for June 2021 with Venom: Let There Be Carnage being the only other major release. Moving No Time to Die to that slot could be hugely beneficial. That is, of course, unless recent history repeats itself and all the other films currently slotted for later this year follows James Bond’s lead again and also jump to 2021.
Last Updated: July 20, 2020