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The iconic super-spy returns for his final adventure this weekend with “No Time to Die,” the 25th film in the franchise, which represents both a literal and figurative end to an era.

“No Time to Die” is the latest film from Daniel Craig, who has played the character five times since “Casino Royale” in 2006. Craig has revitalized the character while racking up some of the series’ biggest box office totals. .

Still, “No Time to Die” debuts at an inflection point for the Bond franchise and theaters as the industry tries to get back to normal in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the rise of streaming. Bond as a brand is also at a crossroads, as a tech giant Amazon (AMZN) plans to take over MGM, the home of the series.

The performance of “No Time to Die” this weekend and in the weeks to come will have huge ramifications for the health of the theater industry and the future of 007.

“The Bond franchise has always been made on a large scale,” Jonathan Kuntz, film professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and TV, told CNN Business. “James Bond embodies the best of cinema cinema.”

Kuntz added: “Now some are wondering in the 21st century, is there still room for this?”

Craig, Daniel Craig

“No Time to Die” is expected to fetch around $ 55 million to $ 60 million at the North American box office this weekend, conservative estimates due to the pandemic. Given Craig’s box office history, that total could be much higher.

The James Bond franchise has racked up more than $ 7 billion worldwide, according to Comscore (SCOR). Of this total, Craig’s releases as Bond (in “Casino Royale”, “Quantum of Solace”, “Skyfall”, “Specter” and “No Time to Die”, which opened its doors internationally the last week) brought in nearly half of that total, $ 3.3 billion.

“Daniel Craig’s tenure has been one of the most successful journeys in 007’s long history,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, told CNN Business. “He and the creative teams involved since ‘Casino Royale’ have made strides in modernizing the franchise, and now they have had the chance to close their particular chapter on their terms.”

‘No Time to Die’ is the most important film of the era of the pandemic
Admittedly, Bond audiences are much older than those who buy a ticket to see “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which grossed $ 90 million last weekend, and it doesn’t have Marvel’s name. attached. But Bond is still Bond – one of the most iconic characters in movie history. Mix that with Craig’s farewell performance and good reviews (the film has an 84% review score on Rotten Tomatoes), and the film’s box office numbers could easily exceed expectations.

What’s more, the film has already grossed $ 121 million internationally so far and grossed $ 6.3 million in the United States on Thursday night, a good start.

For theaters, a big box office win for “No Time to Die” could keep the momentum of “Venom” strong performance last weekend through the rest of October, which is vital. if theaters want to keep moving in the right direction and enter 2022 strong. Other films have opened this year to mix up the results, but “No Time to Die” is arguably the most important film of the pandemic to date. If it manages to find an audience, it could serve as a bridge to a better future for theaters.

“There was a time in the ’80s when it seemed like the James Bond films were on the move. But I think since 2006 every James Bond film has been carefully crafted,” Kuntz said. “That’s not to say they’ve all been masterpieces, but they’ve given us something really new and visually stunning in the Bond films.”

Kuntz continued, “The question is, is that enough? Is Bond enough? And if not, the theatrical movie is in trouble.”

Bezos, Jeff Bezos

‘No Time to Die’ is the most important film of the era of the pandemic
James Bond and the rich, bald, tech-savvy men never really got along. (See villainous Blofeld in “Thunderball” from 1961.) But now the spy will have to do it: his new boss is Jeff Bezos.
Amazon bought MGM, the studio behind Bond, for $ 8.4 billion in May. MGM, home to classic characters like Rocky Balboa and RoboCop, has over 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows in its catalog. Still, the biggest problem is Bond.

The studio owns part of the spy franchise, which Eon Productions also controls. However, beyond Bond’s box office prowess, the films and their lead character represent a lifestyle that is spreading across the globe and throughout pop culture. Bond is more than just a piece of intellectual property – it’s a vibe.

And while streaming is a small part of Amazon’s empire, the company has grown into a bigger player in the entertainment world.

‘No Time to Die’ is the most important film of the era of the pandemic

Prime Video is linked to Amazon’s Prime program, which offers faster parcel delivery and has over 200 million paying subscribers. This makes them a serious contender in the streaming market, and having Bond in their ranks will likely strengthen that position.

But what does this mean for Bond’s cinematic future?

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who own the rights to the character, are adamant that 007 will remain in theaters. But that doesn’t mean that Bond or other characters in the series like M, Q, or Moneypenny won’t appear elsewhere, just like the Star Wars or Marvel universes have successfully done.

“I would expect some offshoot to happen, probably with spinoff series and crossovers that focus on peripheral characters within the 007 universe,” Robbins said. “Ultimately, however, the health of the brand is best preserved by ensuring that it continues to evolve without sacrificing part of what made it unique in the first place: the movie theaters.”

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