Universal may be pushing content to premium VOD, and Universal may have the international distribution deal for 007 now, but this is one movie that isn’t going anywhere near VOD yet.  The franchise is owned, and the shots are called, by Eon Productions.  Universal are just the delivery vehicle.

Eon have made it clear that there is zero chance of No Time To Die going VOD. So it was pushed back from April when COVID hit, until November. At the time many scoffed. Then one-by-one other studios followed suit, some with more extreme delays.

Now as COVID stretches on and on, with summer movie season gone and late summer looking decidedly shaky, it may move again.

The Mail Online is running a story that this movie may now move back to 2021.  With Universal at war with theatre chains and clear indications that cinema attendance number will take time to climb back up, this could be a safe bet.

According to a source, i.e. somebody on the features desk at the Daily Mail in the UK:

“If it has to wait till next year then so be it. There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved here. Release it when audiences feel safe to return. But it’s a nerve-racking call.”

MGM has already lost a chunk of their marketing budget, said to be between $30 and $50 million, due to preparation and advertising sunk on an April release. This is the most expensive film in the series to date with production budget of around $250 million. However Bond movies do not work like normal movies.

Firstly, US box-office is less important to them than for other movies. Around 75% of their grosses come from overseas as 007 is a global phenomenon.

Tied to this is that the brand is so globally valuable that cross-promotional deals, marketing tie-ins and product placements rake in so much money for Eon that the movies were almost at break-even before the box office even opens.  It is why studios were engaged in a fierce bidding war for the distribution rights at renewal. It’s one of the most profitable movie properties in existence.

The downside is that the releases then need to be finely balanced to manage the brand, and the brands tied to it in cross promotion partnerships.

Earlier in the year as April approached, the final Daniel Craig outing in the role was tracking to break records. Now theatres are shuttered and customers will be rightly wary of venturing back for a while.

Maybe 2021 is the right answer?  Thanks China!