A tale of two studios, and two mega-franchises, is about to play out with one maybe relying on the other to provide some data from an experiment. On one side there is Bond, the franchise that has practically kept MGM alive, single handily, for decades. On the other is the behemoth of Disney with the MCU. Is Bond waiting on a Marvel experiment?
MGM has no streaming option, at least until the Amazon deal goes through. Disney has Disney+. Therefore when 007’s latest adventure No Time To Die shocked the world by becoming the first major release of 2020 to delay its release, it was completely on hold. It has also been delayed again since the original release of April 2020.
Disney, on the other hand, had options. They experimented with a simultaneous theatrical and Disney+ Premier Access release with Black Widow in July. They will see what the opposite end of the spectrum holds by a theatrical only release for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. That won’t be anywhere near home release until late October.
Waiting on results for this, the early November release for Eternals remains in flux until the data is in and the delta variant vs. vaccine vs. hysteria three-way battle plays out further. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was clear they will wait and see:
“I think a theater would be my preference and [Eternals director] Chloe [Zhao’s] preference. We will see where we go with it.”
Where does this leave Bond and No Time To Die? MGM and Eon will be watching that Shang-Chi box office like hawks. They are set for October and in a different situation. They have delayed multiple times but given MGM’s situation, they will be fast running out of rope. The deal for global distribution is set with Universal. There will be multi-million dollar product placement deals attached. Each time they delay it will mean wasted marketing costs. Back-end points are at stake for everyone involved. Meanwhile, interest payments will be due on the production budget.
A streaming release is not an option… yet. Commercial deals will have stipulated a theatrical release.
The Summer box office is in the toilet. Clifford the Big Red Dog and Venom: Let There Be Carnage have already been pushed back. Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania has been dumped on streaming in a sell-off.
The Hollywood Reporter indicates that MGM just doesn’t have the cash to keep delaying the movie, but it can’t go to streaming. So currently the October 8th release has to stay on for now.
With a $250 million budget, commercial deals, and increased marketing costs from delays all in play the situation is complex around No Time To Die. What Shang-Chi does at the box-office, and what decision Disney then makes pretty quickly around Eternals, will provide MGM and Eon with a big data point on whether to press ahead or gamble on a further delay.
By then the Amazon deal could be done, providing a streaming distribution channel, but that doesn’t solve the commercial issues. Big moves to come. Bond waiting on a Marvel experiment continues.