Refresh for latest…: A big and busy weekend at the international box office reaffirmed the power of theatrical as MGM/Eon/Universal’s No Time To Die bonded with audiences to the tune of $119.1M, coming in over on yesterday’s estimates.
In like-for-like markets at current exchange rates No Time To Die is in line with Skyfall, and just below Spectre (-17%) excluding previews. Wow!
Meanwhle, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which thrashed to a mega-debut domestically, also licked up a $13.8M start in Russia — the market’s best debut of any film during the health crisis, taking over the benchmark previously set by Warner Bros/Legendary’s Dune. The latter film, in play for three weeks, has topped $100M overseas.
The industry has been speculating that if any movie could get folks back into cinemas in the pandemic era, the latest in this enduring Bond franchise was the one. And so it has delivered with the biggest gross for a Hollywood movie this session and the first time a Hollywood film has crossed $100M in its overseas debut during the pandemic without China in the mix.
All kudos to 007, and we’ll get back to him in a minute. However, her majesty’s super secret agent doesn’t get the crown of offshore or global leader this session as that belongs to Chinese propaganda film The Battle At Lake Changjin which grossed a staggering RMB 1.51B ($230M) in China. Held back to release during the National Day holiday and sporting a 9.5 score from audiences, the Wu Jing-starrer is set during the Second Phase Offensive of the Korean War (or the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, as it’s known locally) and tells the story of the People’s Volunteer Army entering North Korea for the titular battle which was a turning point in the conflict. It broke several single-day box office records over the weekend and Maoyan is predicting an RMB 4.59B ($714M) finish for the full run; this would make it the second biggest Chinese film of the year.
Daniel Craig’s last turn as James Bond heads to China on October 29, and, really, this weekend is all about Bond in terms of how we see international markets responding as the pandemic wanes.
Let’s turn back to this weekend. No Time To Die released in 54 Universal and MGM markets, ahead of its domestic bow on October 8. Conservative pre-weekend projections were in the $90M range, and Bond blasted past that. Why were the early estimates markedly lower? In part it’s because pandemic era box office has been ornery to predict and because the franchise tends to skew to older audiences who have shown some reticence to return to cinemas.
Ultimately, several areas overperformed versus expectations, including the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Moviegoers in the former turned out in droves — over the past week I spent in London it would have been impossible to swing a cat of any kind without being Bond-blasted. The home market has traditionally led 007 films box office-wise and this installment was no different with a fantastic $25.6M debut.