Why ‘No Time to Die’ Opening Is Good News for Theaters – Even if MGM Doesn’t Break Even

$56 million domestic opening with lots of over-35 moviegoers could mean good things for Oscar contenders like ”House of Gucci“

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Daniel Craig’s final Bond film, “No Time to Die,” didn’t blow up the U.S. box office charts like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” did last weekend — and MGM may struggle to break even on the costly film’s theatrical release. But the thriller is still doing what movie theaters hoped it would do: bring older audiences back to movie theaters.

While younger audiences were split between 007 and Venom, domestic distributor MGM reported that audiences over 35 were the key demo for “No Time to Die,” which opened to $56 million this weekend and has a global running total of $313 million. 57% of the Bond audiences was over 35, with 36% over the age of 45.

Just as important, MGM disclosed that its internal surveys showed that 25% of the film’s audience was moviegoers seeing a film in theaters for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While the box office has made significant progress in returning to normal levels thanks to blockbusters aimed at the 18-35 crowd, films catering to more mature audiences have largely skipped theaters.

So Bond, cinema’s oldest running franchise was an important film not just for theaters, but for the upcoming awards season. Rival distributors tell TheWrap that they see the numbers for “No Time to Die” as encouraging for Oscar contenders like “The French Dispatch” and “Belfast” that are arriving in the coming weeks.

If Bond can make more moviegoers over 35 feel comfortable with seeing films in theaters, it will remove a major hurdle for indie and prestige films trying to cater to them with mature fare this fall and holiday season. And while there’s still a chance that winter could bring a new wave of COVID-19 cases, the release of “No Time to Die” has fortuitously lined up with a downward trend in new cases in the U.S. and some other major overseas markets.

“I’ve been hearing nothing but good feedback from theaters this weekend. There’s a growing feeling that a portion of the audience that was more hesitant to return to theaters is finally coming back,” one rival distributor said. “Now it’s up to studios to keep the release slate diverse and try to build on this momentum that ‘Venom’ build with younger audiences and Bond did with older ones.”

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster