It has been announced last week that the latest James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed from the 2nd April until the 12th of November due to fears over how it will perform at the box office due to fears with the coronavirus. Today we look at how serious the threat was of a poor box office and what other films could potentially be affected.
Why was No Time To Die delayed?
The Coronavirus has been spreading far and wide for many weeks now and the fact that it is starting to heavily hurt Europe Universal Pictures has decided to push it back until Thanksgiving, where they hope the epidemic will have plateaued worldwide by then.
No Time To Die needs a good box office return in a world where it’s previous instalments have either just about reaching $1 billion or have gotten close to it. The fact that Universal was willing to sacrifice their China box office for the film shows how down to the wire this decision came.
It was only when Europe and other Western countries started to feel the effects of the virus that worries about its performance began to grow. For example, would potential customers go to see a film when they could be surrounded by hundreds of others at the same time? Large group events are being cancelled left right and centre and while it would be madness and mass hysteria for cinemas to close or for people to be THAT concerned about going to the cinema, a per cent of the population will still stay at home.
By moving the date back not just to deep into the summer but to November, shows how much Universal need the film to perform well. It was strange that they had not delayed it sooner when it became clear that the Chinese market would not be showing it (or any film) throughout March or Early April.
Will other films be delayed?
Disney seems to be doubling down on Mulan, with a lot of tweets being released stating tickets were for sale, so for now no. We know that Disney will delay the Chinese release until that market is open again, but Mulan appears to be opening on it’s intended date in the rest of the world.
I can’t imagine Disney postponing it now and from details have been shared about the virus, it does not appear to affect children, which is why Disney is most likely pushing ahead. Also, we now come into a world where there are so many tentpole films that finding a good enough gap can be difficult. For example, No Time To Die in North America always gets released a couple of weeks after the European dates and this time it will now coincide with Thanksgiving and Kong vs Godzilla is the real loser in that one as technically Bond returns to it’s favoured Autumn release schedule.
Peter Rabbit 2 has since been pushed back until August as it was one of the other big releases in March and really, it would have struggled where it was set, so it could be a positive thing with it (as with Bond). One film in April that would be considered large is The New Mutants but seeing how Disney just want that one released and out of their hair. I doubt they will move it about at this point.
Trolls 2 could see itself pushed back, though if the infection drastically peaks in the next three weeks, it may hold on and be safe for Easter, kids will want to be doing something after all…
A Quiet Place 2 should be fine as it is the end of March, and the fact that its target audience is in the rather safe age range for the virus. It will be a shame for its box office to take a hit, but I believe it will be okay.
Will September come into play?
Notoriously the quietest month of the year September could still have a bit of a part to play in the box office, though it only will if the virus goes on without peaking deep into April.
With only The Conjuring 3, Kingsman 3 (it won’t hurt anyone’s box office) and Last Night in Soho having their releases in September, it could be a perfect slot for a children-friendly film to help the kids to be okay with going back to school. Stranger decisions have been made this year.
What else has been postponed?
Obviously, it made sense to postpone the Beijing International Film Festival even though China has supposedly peaked with the virus and with the festival still a month away. It is just to close to everything else. In bringing back September into the conversation. Do not be surprised to see some festivals slot in there as only the Helsinki and Athens Film Festivals are scheduled for around that time.
SXSW is gone, most likely for the year due to the sheer size of the event. I imagine a tonne of the April film festivals will be postponed, including Tribeca Film Festival. Cannes in May should be fine, but you never know.
In theory, the world will return to normal in late April, so for the films caught up in that mix, it will be a daunting time at the box office, though it may allow some other films to grow. With certain markets (China and Italy) closed for the next month or so, they will assist in boosting a film hungry audience when films are eventually released a bit delayed.
If there are any other updates, rest assured we will talk about it…