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James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ delayed until April

(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)
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The upcoming James Bond film “No Time to Die” has delayed its release until April, in the latest sign of how the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to shake up Hollywood’s plans for recovery.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Universal Pictures and 007 producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a joint statement Friday that the Daniel Craig action movie is now set to begin its rollout April 2 “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience.”

“We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing ‘No Time To Die’ next year,” the companies and producers said.

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Beverly Hills-based MGM, which produces the blockbuster spy series with Eon Productions in Britain, was set to release the 25th Bond film on Nov. 20 in the U.S. through United Artists Releasing, MGM’s distribution joint venture with Annapurna Pictures. Comcast Corp.-owned Universal is handling the international rollout, including its now-postponed Nov. 12 debut in Britain.

“No Time to Die” had previously been planned for an April 2020 premiere, but was delayed in March until November as the coronovirus crisis took hold. It was the first big-budget film to pause its distribution plans amid the spread of COVID-19.

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The latest postponement comes after studios pushed back movies including Warner Bros.’ DC sequel “Wonder Woman 1984,” Disney’s Marvel feature “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” After Burbank-based Disney moved “Black Widow” from early November to May, the 007 movie was left as the biggest potential blockbuster on the calendar, along with Pixar’s “Soul,” which is still scheduled for Nov. 20.

“No Time to Die” was thought to be more likely to stay in its November date than other films because of its appeal in international markets, where movie theaters have opened more successfully. For previous Bond films, more than 70% of the global box office has come from markets other than the U.S. and Canada.

The move comes the day after singer Billie Eilish released the new music video for the movie’s theme song.

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The decision is a blow to theater companies that have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Exhibitors began opening across the country, where governments permitted, in anticipation of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” unveiled ahead of Labor Day weekend.

However, the two biggest markets — New York and Los Angeles — remain shuttered for cinemas, making it hard for studios to justify releasing their pricey tent poles. Lackluster returns for “Tenet” did not inspire confidence that audiences are ready to rush back to the multiplex.

The National Assn. of Theatre Owners, the Washington lobby that represents exhibitors, on Wednesday called on congressional leaders to provide relief for the beleaguered industry, warning that nearly 70% of small and midsized theater companies will be forced to declare bankruptcy or fold without federal assistance.

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More than 70 top Hollywood filmmakers signed the letter, including Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Greta Gerwig, Jordan Peele, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood and Ang Lee.

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