‘No Time To Die (from coronavirus)’
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
How COVID-19 defeated 007...
The world’s greatest villains have all tried to defeat MI6 agent James Bond.
From instigating World War III, using atomic bombs to destroy major cities or simply using counter-intelligence, terrorism, revenge and extortion. But now in 2020, it seems that 007 has finally met his (temporary) match.
Sounding like the masterplan from Hugo Drax in 1979s ‘Moonraker’, 2019 saw the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the East. Slowly but surely, the virus crept from country to country across the globe until it reached mainland Europe and now, in 2020, full Western civilisation. With over 100,000 (known) cases, 6,000 deaths but 70,00 recoveries, it’s safe to say this is a Bond villain’s dream come true in attacking mankind with an unknown virus and locking down countries, plunging economies, stretching security and health resources and instigating fear into the media.
But the first celluloid victim of the coronavirus pandemic battle was the 25th James Bond film ‘No Time To Die’. On March 29th, just 29 days away from the hugely anticipated finale for actor Daniel Craig as 007, EON Productions and MGM announced that due to “thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace” ‘No Time To Die’ would be delayed for over 7 months until 12th November 2020 in the UK following with the US on 25th November, and then the rest of the world after that.
It seems Rami Malek’s new villain Safin would relish this news that was just the tip of the iceberg for Hollywood and the world in the battle against COVID-19.
With growing pressure on industries and governments to take action against the sweeping pandemic, studios evaluated both the risk to box-office takings with people self-isolating and not venturing outside, and also the general wellbeing of the public. ‘No Time To Die’ was in full throttle of marketing following a February multi-million dollar Super Bowl advert, posters, interviews and preparations for the global press tour. However with the film now delayed, the losses are predicated to be upwards of $40m.
How many $$$ and £££ can you put above the health and reaction to the general public, however. If ‘No Time To Die’ was released as normal come April 2nd, just what would the box-office takings be? With many cities around the world enforcing lockdowns, reduced working hours and some policing to keep people isolated to help cull the spread, a major film such as the 25th James Bond adventure would have faced dismal openings and a gross that reflected the pandemic, not the film and talent involved. It would have been nothing but disheartening for all involved, and for critics and fans to witness to a beloved franchise.
‘No Time To Die’s was met with support and understanding, but also upset and disappointment. Those wanting to be resilient and carry on as normal in the face of uncertainty were met with a negative blow. Fans wanting to escape the drama of the world into their escapist 007 universe were now unable to, and it signalled the start of a situation many simply didn’t want to believe was happening. With the media not helping in scaremongering and fanning flames of horror stories in daily headlines – THOUSANDS DEAD! KILLER VIRUS SWEEPS THE WORLD! THE ECONOMY COLLAPSES! NOBODY IS SAFE! – some people just wanted to keep calm, maintain personal hygiene and carry on using common sense.
But weeks later, not even Hollywood could have predicted the escalating battle against COVID-19. Major studios followed suit to delay some of the year’s most potentially profitable films such as ‘Peter Rabbit 2’ delayed 5 months to August 2020, ‘Fast & Furious 9’ delayed 11 months to April 2021, ‘Mulan’ pulled from March 27th with no future release date yet given, and ‘A Quiet Place 2’ pulled within weeks of release with no new date in sight. The domino effect well and truly has taken place.
Major movies are vacant from cinemas. Countries have gone into lockdown. Transportation companies have cut major travel across land, sea and air. Social venues have been closed or operate with reduced hours and staff. Retailers are selling out of the most basic stock. Consumers are panic buying. Schools are on the brink of closure for months.
In the words of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’s master villain Karl Stromberg, “Global destruction will follow. The new era will begin.”
But what factors helped delay ‘No Time To Die’ for the 7 months until November? The health and wellbeing of the general public goes up against the major lacklustre box-office takings. It’s not easy to think which the multi-billion dollar studios value more, but each have gone hand in hand here; a symbiotic protection of both consumer and gross.
There is also the major international markets, where various countries each have been closing both their doors and borders and isolating citizens. Why would EON Productions want to continue with a planned release in April to the lucrative 007 markets such as the UK, China and America? Millions of dollars may have been lost in marketing, but that’s a small price to pay to reap future success when, in November, the COVID-19 pandemic will (hopefully) be a distant memory to cinemagoers out for some much needed entertainment!
One other hinted at factor is the actual plot of the film, with rumours that Rami Malek’s villain Safin is involved in some bio-chemical / medical / science warfare or experimentation. While all these fantastical plots make a good Bond villain, maybe it will be a little too raw seeing a villainous plot to eradicate or control mankind with a virus when audiences are actually living it.
All we can do is listen to the advice (be it good or infuriating) from governments and officials as we ride out the coronavirus storm as best we can as a people. Be aware of what you should do to prevent any risk of contracting or even helping spread the virus, and don’t take any chances, no matter how proud or invulnerable you feel.
Take care of yourselves, and each other, and know this...James Bond WILL return.
'No Time To Die' is due for worldwide release from November 2020