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‘No Time to Die’ Passes ‘F9’ as Hollywood’s Top Grossing Film of 2021

Bond film’s release strategy pays off as it reaches $733 million grossed worldwide

MGM and Universal’s James Bond film “No Time to Die” has set a new high for Hollywood this year, passing the “Fast & Furious” film “F9” to become the highest grossing MPA release of the year and third highest among all global films.

Since its release in the U.K. and several other international territories on Oct. 1, “No Time to Die” has grossed $579 million internationally, where Universal is handling distribution for most territories, and $154 million domestically, where MGM is handling distribution. That gives it a total of $733 million, topping the $721 million that “F9” grossed over the summer.

While profits from theatrical grosses have been significantly reduced because of increased costs for marketing, product placement and other factors related to its repeated delays forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, “No Time to Die” has outperformed multiple Marvel films, including “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which is the top domestic grosser this year with $224 million but has only grossed $206 million overseas.

MGM’s chairman Michael De Luca and president Pamela Abdy celebrated the milestone and touted MGM’s commitment to releasing the blockbuster in theaters despite the temptation to release early on streaming the way many blockbusters have this year.

“We are so thrilled to see audiences returning to theaters across the world and for their ongoing support of the theatrical experience. After a long delay, we are especially gratified to know ‘No Time To Die’ has entertained so many moviegoers the world over. Along with our partners at Eon, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, all of us at MGM are grateful to the teams at Universal Pictures, United Artist Releasing, and in our own MGM territories for their tremendous efforts to cross this great milestone with ‘No Time To Die,'” De Luca and Abdy wrote in a statement.

“This achievement is a testament to Daniel Craig and the entire cast, as well as our director Cary Fukunaga, producers Michael and Barbara, and the crew for making an incredible film. We extend our thanks to our exhibitor and promotional partners for remaining steadfast in their support of the film,” they added.

As TheWrap noted last month, “No Time to Die” was able to take advantage of an overseas release slate in which it enjoyed little competition in many key markets on opening weekend. As a result, it stands as the strongest opening of the year in 36 countries, including in the U.K., where it has surpassed the run of “Avengers: Endgame” and stands among the Top 5 highest grossing films ever.

Still, the highest grossing film in the world in 2021 comes not from Hollywood, but from China, where the war film “Battle at Lake Changjin” has grossed $882 million from local audiences after being released as part of last month’s National Day festivities. The Lunar New Year release “Hi, Mom” has also topped the $800 million mark with $822 million grossed.

But next month could see a Hollywood blockbuster top both “No Time to Die” and the two Chinese megahits to cap off the year. Sony/Marvel Studios’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has been pegged by analysts to have the best shot to earn the first $100 million-plus opening in the U.S. since the pandemic began and, unlike other 2021 Marvel films like “Shang-Chi,” is expected to have a release in China. The film’s newest trailer was released in the country this week.

While the box office success of “No Way Home” will rely on avoiding a COVID winter surge — especially in China, where any outbreak can trigger a lockdown that closes thousands of theaters — the expectation of a crossover between Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and past “Spider-Man” stars Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield has made the film arguably the most anticipated event film since “Avengers: Endgame.”