How ‘No Time to Die’ Got to $500 Million at the Global Box Office

Deft navigation of a busy fall release slate, plus help on the COVID front, helped Bond reach the milestone

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While MGM’s “No Time to Die” has faced an extremely rocky road to release even by the standards of the pandemic era, Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film has passed the $500 million global box office milestone at a time when such a benchmark has proven difficult to reach.

Prior to “No Time to Die,” only four films this year had passed the $500 million mark, and three of them are Chinese films: “Hi, Mom,” “Detective Chinatown 3,” and “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” which this weekend became the year’s top grosser with $828 million almost entirely from China. The sole Hollywood film in the group is Universal’s “F9,” which hit $716.5 million after its summer release.

With a running total of $525 million, “No Time to Die” has passed the global grosses for two Marvel Studios titles: “Black Widow” ($379.5 million) and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($417.6 million). A major reason for this is the waning effects of the Delta variant surge that crippled moviegoing turnout in many major box office markets around the world in late summer, providing “No Time to Die” with one less major hurdle to getting Bond fans out to theaters.

But another key factor for the film was how distributors MGM and Universal (in most overseas markets) handled a tricky fall release slate where studios are vying to get plum spots for their top films amid stiffer competition. After multiple delays forced by the pandemic, the two studios locked in early October — Britain and most of Europe avoided the first two weekends of “Dune,” which Warner Bros. released a month ahead of the U.S. to capitalize on its Venice premiere, and a full month after the global release of Disney/Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

This allowed Bond to stand as the undisputed top new blockbuster on opening weekend, and the numbers show it. Aside from “F9,” “No Time to Die” is the only Hollywood release that has grossed over $400 million overseas this year, accounting for 77% of the film’s overall gross so far.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster