The long awaited new James Bond movie No Time To Die just hit theaters this past weekend, and despite mass awareness from over a year of advertising and marketing across the globe, the film fell below all performance expectations in the United States despite the hype. Why did this happen? Did Bond just suffer the same fate as the often quoted “go woke, go broke”?
Initial estimates had hoped for the film to have at least a 60 to 70 million dollar opening weekend here in the United States. Ultimately, No Time to Die racked up 55.2 million dollars on its opening weekend, well below even the conservative estimates of what the film would bring in domestically.
There are countless articles online which seem to shift the blame for the low numbers to the coronavirus pandemic.
Box Office Mojo even wrote, “No Time to Die’s audience was heading to theaters for the first time since the pandemic began. Also not helping matters: the film’s lengthy 163 minute running time, which limited how many times the film could be shown each day. As for the glass half full portion of 007’s performance, No Time to Die earned an A – grade from Cinemascore and a rosy 84% “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Better yet, the film continued to clean up overseas, where it was unveiled a week earlier than it was in the States. After two weeks, the espionage epic has pulled in $257.3 million from abroad, bringing its current worldwide box office total to $313.3 million. Perhaps the best bit of news for MGM (and Universal, who is handling the film’s foreign distribution duties) is that No Time to Die still hasn’t reached ticket buyers in China – one of the Bond franchise’s most lucrative foreign markets.”
So their explanation for the low numbers in the United States, despite it doing fairly well overseas, is that people were not ready to go see a movie during the pandemic and the film was too long for audiences. Their explanation went on further to suggest that the low numbers in the US didn’t even matter, because the Chinese market was going to give the film a greater audience there.
So that’s the current state of film, to not care about ticket sales in the United States as much as hoping that global audiences and the Chinese market will provide the profits needed for any film in modern times. To me, personally, this is a sad state of modern art from the US.
Looking at the numbers from just the past few weeks it can be shown that the pandemic was far from the main reason that the film did not do as well here as intended. Last week, the new Marvel film Venom: Let There Be Carnage was released to see earnings over 90 million dollars here in the United States. That is nearly double what No Time to Die made in its opening weekend. Not only that, but this past weekend was the new Venom film’s second week in theaters, running alongside the opening of No Time to Die, where the new Venom film continued to bring in audiences with an additional 31.8 million dollars within the United States. This is more than half what was generated by No Time to Die in its first weekend. So even with that alone, why did No Time to Die fall below expectations?
In my personal opinion, I think it is because audiences from the United States knew it was at the very least a “wokeish” adaptation of a long beloved character. Even myself, who goes to the movies just about every week, has decided to use the power of my own independent spending ability to make the decision to avoid all movies that seem to have only been made to fit into the Chinese market of what is acceptable for a film production. Earlier this year I skipped out on the new Fast and Furious movie and skipped out on the new James Bond movie this past week for the same reason. I know I am not alone in this, and believe that many people who love films feel the same way as I do. Even talking to people around me in public about going to the movies, the most common reason I hear for why people do not go to the movies anymore isn’t because of the coronavirus or the pandemic, but rather that movies nowadays just suck. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those same exact words come from people who are disappointed, like myself, in the way modern movies are being made.
I’d like to see a world where the focus of modern film in the United States returned to the freedom of American art, where expression, character development and storytelling are the main focus of what is being done. To support this happening, I will go see and spend my money on every single movie in the theatre that seems to have the potential of doing this. I will not be going to see any movie that is made solely to force a tailored social narrative down viewers throats, or any movie that seems to be made only to fit into the Chinese market. I love art and will always have a passion for production, but my dollars will be going to films that represent creation and the freedom to dream.