Just a few days ago, I was surprised to read that No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, would be once again delayed because of the global pandemic. Originally scheduled to be released in the UK in April 2020, it was pushed back to 12 November 2020, and now again to April 2021. Other blockbusters have followed a similar pattern, with the one exception being Tenet, which has so far grossed just over $300 million. Certainly not a bad showing during a pandemic, although it kind of was the only big name release since corona began.
No Time To Die’s postponement decision, however, sent shockwaves throughout the cinema industry. With many theatres around the world relying on the Bond movie to attract a large enough inflow of audience throughout the later autumn and early winter months, the delay completely threw their plans into dissaray. Almost immediately after, Cineworld announced that it would temporarily close its 127 venues in the UK, as well as 536 Regal theatres in the US, putting around 45.000 workers’ jobs on the line.
Of course, it’s not that they were relying only on the Bond film, but this delay will probably prompt others, leading to a situation where the cinemas would be unable to guarantee a wide enough variety of films to keep moviegoers interested and at least cover their costs for the time being. And while the prospect of Craig’s last Bond movie might have attracted rather decent numbers, even during a severe pandemic, a bunch of indie films, no matter how good they might be, won’t manage to get the right numbers.
Certainly, both sets of decisions are justifiable, especially under the current circumstances. The Bond producers prefer to wait a couple more months in order to maximise their profits, while the Cineworld closure decision is also one done with the best long-term interest of the company in mind. It is an unfortunate reality, but I guess we need to accept it as a sign of the times.
These are tough times for cinemas, and in such moments we can see just how dependent they are on blockbusters which attract steady inflows of people to their seats. Hopefully, the global health situation will improve in early 2021, and we won’t have to see another No Time to Die postponement – or any other postponement, for that matter. The industry will take some time to recover, but I am sure it will recover.