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No Time To Die Is Making Bank Overseas Despite A Lower Than Expected U.S. Debut

A lot of headlines were written this past weekend about how the latest Bond movie opened below expectations. Some were hyperbolic in describing its box office performance because it’s been massive overseas so far. Yes, it came in at $55.2M this weekend, which is below the $88M opening of Skyfall and the $70M Spectre started with. Heck, it’s even lower than Quantum of Solace‘s $67.5M. However, considering how long No Time To Die is (the longest Bond movie to date at 2 hrs, 43 mins), and how the pandemic is keeping away older audiences more than anyone, the slower start is understandable.

This franchise is turning 60 next year. SIXTY. That means many of the fans are older and being much more cautious about coming back to theaters as the pandemic slows down. Some may opt to wait until the auditoriums are less full to check the film out. The superhero movies that have broken out lean younger and target families. One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that Bond usually has great legs, bringing in blockbuster totals from lower openings than many other franchises. No Bond flick has ever opened to over $100M stateside, or even $90M for that matter.

Yet despite this many people were openly speculating and some even convinced themselves Bond would have the biggest opening of the pandemic yet (topping Venom 2‘s $90M). As you can see, that made absolutely no sense. Part of the problem here is that too many people figure that if Venom 2 could go so high, then Bond should beat that figure. That dismisses just how popular the character of Venom is. It’s also worth noting that most box office pundits weren’t predicting $100M. Some just though it was possible. Most put expectations at a wide margin of $60M to $80M, with some putting the range at a higher $70M-$95M.

Those higher expectations represented an unfair bar to set for the film. This opening is still very solid, and is noticably higher than Casino Royale‘s $40.8M. Yes that was 15 years ago, but that opening was considered a smash success then. Especially with Venom 2 still making $32M in second place, I’d argue that a $55M+ debut for this franchise during the tail end of a pandemic is quite good. It only looks bad due to the hype getting a bit out of hand recently.

However, the biggest thing these headlines fail to capture is that on a global level No Time To Die is actually one of the biggest films of the last two years. It could pass Shang-Chi’s worldwide gross this weekend, and has yet to open in China, where it will earn at least $40M (I have a hard time imagining much lower unless something wired happens), but it could go much higher (Spectre made over $80M there in 2015). Bond opened in most markets one weekend earlier than it did in the States. It cleared $120M during that overseas debut, which was the first debut over $100M overseas from an American movie since before the pandemic.

Then it made another $90.4M overseas this past weekend. Craig’s last outing as Bond has grossed $325M worldwide so far, ahead of Black Widow, which has wrapped up with $379.4M. Shang-Chi has $403.3M as of this writing, which is why this weekend or very soon after No Time To Die will pass it. It’s worth noting that Black Widow and Shang-Chi haven’t opened in China, and might not at all. If they had, that could have meant another $80M-$130M for each of those MCU flicks. But like I said before, Bond hasn’t opened in China yet and won’t until October 29th. So it passing these other blockbusters this early is a fair comparison.

So while most of the writing this week talked about how No Time To Die disappointed at the box office, that’s only true(ish) in the U.S. It marginally disappointed domestically on opening weekend, but could play very well in the coming weeks considering the solid reviews (84% on Rotten Tomatoes) and good audience ratings (88% on RT from verified viewers and an A- CinemaScore). Either way it will still be one of the biggest films of the year domestically. It will probably stay behind Shang-Chi, Venom 2, and Spider-Man: No Way Home will definitely top it come December. Eternals has a shot too if it can break out. Yet Bond definitely has a chance to pass A Quiet Place 2 ($160M), F9 ($173M), and Black Widow ($184M). Since the biggest blockbusters coming up are superhero movies, Bond sticks out as a little different, and will be appealing for folks as they look for movies to check out at the cinema for weeks to come.

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