After a year and a half of delays and four release date changes, “No Time to Die” is finally upon us, which means Bondmania is about to begin. With the 25th entry in the James Bond franchise hitting UK theaters on September 30 and US theaters on October 8, cinema chains are staffing up ahead of what looks to be the biggest opening weekend since the pandemic began.
According to a new report out of The Guardian, theater chain Vue, which is showing Cary Fukunaga’s movie in all 91 of its locations, has “had to increase staff numbers by about 10%, adding about 450 new employees to its 4,500 regular work force.”
“It is going to be the biggest opening weekend since the pandemic began,” said Tim Richards, the chief executive of Vue, which is the UK’s third-largest theater chain. “Covid and changing consumer habits mean there are more advance bookings made now than we used to see, notwithstanding that it looks like Bond is going to have the biggest opening weekend here since ‘Avengers: Endgame’ in 2019.”
“No Time to Die,” which stars Daniel Craig in his final bow as James Bond, is poised to become the second biggest Bond film in the United Kingdom since 2012’s “Skyfall.”
“We sold more [advance] tickets to ‘No Time to Die’ in 24 hours than we did for ‘Spectre’ in a month,” said Richards. “To be even-handed, there are now significant increases in advance bookings, but it is still tracking to be bigger than ‘Spectre.’”
Craig’s Bond swan song is set to be the biggest film of the year in the UK, but can it wrangle audiences around the world who are weary about returning to movie theaters?
“Since only one Bond film has ever grossed $1 billion, I’m not really going out on a limb here by saying ‘No Time To Die’ won’t reach that box office bull’s eye in the middle of a pandemic,” Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst at the industry analyst Exhibitor Relations, told The Guardian. “In fact, with only one domestic release topping half that in 2021, just getting halfway there would be an achievement.”