In the latest blow to exhibitors who have re-opened their doors over the last month-plus, MGM announced this afternoon that Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film, No Time to Die, will be delayed from next month’s planned November 20 release to April 2 of next year.
As a result, Universal has simultaneously shuffled F9 from April 2 to a May 28, 2021 release over Memorial Day weekend.
This marks the second time the 007 tentpole has been pushed down the release calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the studio having been among the first to delay a major film when it did so earlier this year. No Time to Die was intended to open over Easter weekend in 2020, a holiday frame it will now (hopefully) anchor in 2021.
The move comes on the heels of Disney’s news last week, when Black Widow was pushed from November 6 to May 2021 — among other release changes. We previously broke down the impact of that move in last week’s Long Range Forecast column. The already cautious outlook provided in that report is now even more sobering for exhibition.
Bond’s exit from the pre-Thanksgiving frame means Disney and Pixar’s Soul is now dated on November 20 by itself, followed by Warner Bros.’ tentative plans to release Dune on December 18 and Wonder Woman 1984 on December 25.
Everything is written in pencil these days, though, and it seems likely that the Pixar film will vacate November at some point in the near future now that it doesn’t have a strong counter-programming tentpole to help share the market with.
As always, the positive news here is that MGM and Universal continue to value the theatrical experience by not pushing No Time to Die or F9 off to streaming — instead remaining committed to a cinematic experience that cannot be duplicated in the home. In the short term, though, the industry faces a prolonged period of financial challenges, which NATO emphasized yesterday will need to be addressed as soon as possible.
More updates as they come.