Domestic Box Office Is Shaken But Not Stirred By James Bond’s $56 Million ‘No Time To Die’ Opening
No Time To Die, the 25th official chapter in the long-running 007 film franchise and Daniel Craig’s swan song as license-to-kill agent James Bond, spent the better part of the COVID pandemic gathering dust on MGM’s shelves waiting for the right moment to make its way to multiplexes. This weekend, that long wait finally ended. So, did those 18 months of delays and date changes pay off? It depends whether you see the martini glass as half full or half empty. With its $56 million opening weekend in North America, the action-packed tentpole fell well short of box-office soothsayers’ predictions, but it still marks one of the biggest debuts of 2021.

Originally slated to hit theaters back in April 2020, the eagerly-awaited Bond sequel, pitting Craig’s bruised-knuckle MI6 agent against Rami Malek’s supervillain, debuted to $56 million in 4,407 locations over the weekend, which translated to a $12,708 per-screen average. But with its $250 million production budget (not to mention its steep marketing campaign), the PG-13-rated movie has to be viewed as something of a disappointment next to its $60-$70 million pre-weekend forecast and the $70.4 million that its predecessor, Spectre, opened to in 2015 (the series’ splashiest bow remains Craig’s Skyfall with $88.4 million bow back in 2012). Then again, in his nearly six decades of globe-trotting derring-do, James Bond had never met a foe quite like COVID-19, which no doubt played a significant role in the film’s softer-than-expected debut since so many of the franchise’s longtime fans are older and more cautious about returning to theaters (MGM’s internal polling showed that 25% of No Time to Die’s audience was heading to theaters for the first time since the pandemic began). Also not helping matters: the film’s lengthy 163-minute running time, which limited how many times the film could be shown each day.

As for the glass-half-full portion of 007’s performance, No Time to Die earned an A- grade from CinemaScore and a rosy 84% "fresh" rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Better yet, the film continued to clean up overseas, where it was unveiled a week earlier than it was in the States. After two weeks, the espionage epic has pulled in $257.3 million from abroad, bringing its current worldwide box-office total to $313.3 million. Perhaps the best bit of news for MGM (and Universal, who is handling the film’s foreign distribution duties) is that No Time to Die still hasn’t reached ticket buyers in China—one of the Bond franchise’s most lucrative foreign markets. It opens there on October 29.

With no other major debuts this weekend, the runner-up spot belonged to Sony’s instant blockbuster, Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The PG-13-rated supervillain sequel starring Tom Hardy, which grabbed headlines last weekend with its record-shattering $90.1 million domestic debut, fell -64.5% in its sophomore frame, earning $32 million in North America. Unspooling in 4,225 theaters, Venom 2 scored a $7,573 per-screen average in its second frame, putting its two-week domestic tally at just a hair under $141.7 million. The film has tacked on another $43.9 million from overseas, bringing its global box-office total to bit less than $185.6 million.

In third place was United Artists’ animated sequel The Addams Family 2, which scared up $10 million in its second weekend. The PG-rated follow-up to The Addams Family (which ended up grossing $100.7 million domestically in 2019), features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Chloe Grace Moretz and is also available on premium VOD for $19.99. Dipping -42.2% from the previous weekend, The Addams Family 2 played in 4,207 locations and nabbed a $2,381 per-screen average. Its two-week cume at the North American box office now stands at $31.1 million. It has earned $4.6 million overseas, putting its current worldwide gross at $35.7 million.

In fourth was Disney’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which added $4.2 million in its sixth weekend in North American release. The PG-13 rated superhero sensation starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina dropped off -31.3% from the previous sesssion. Playing in 2,800 locations, Shang-Chi received a $1,500 per-screen average, pushing its total domestic haul to just under $212.5 million. So far, it has also piled on $189.1 million from overseas, pushing it just past the $400 million mark in worldwide ticket sales with a $401.6 million global cume.

Rounding out the Top 5 was Warner Bros.’ Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark with $1.5 million as it continued to struggle on the big screen in its second weekend (it is also playing simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform, which may be part of the reason why). The R-rated film, which stars Michael Gandolfini (the son of the show’s late star James Gandolfini), fell -68.8% from its lackluster opening weekend, exhibiting in 3,181 theaters, which translated to a $455 per-screen average. To date, the Sopranos origin story has added $2.9 million from abroad, bringing its combined two-week global gross to $10.3 million.

Bubbling just underneath the Top 5 was A24’s Lamb, which debuted in seventh place with $1 million. The strange and surreal R-rated indie about a childless couple in Iceland who treat a baby lamb as if it was their own baby and stars Noomi Rapace opened in 583 theaters and earned a $1,715 per-screen average. Meanwhile, with No Time to Die now finally out in the world, blockbuster lovers and box-office trackers are now turning their eyes to the next wave of big-ticket titles making their way to theaters such as the horror sequel Halloween Kills (October 15), the sci-fi eye-candy epic Dune (October 22), and Marvel’s next E-ticket, Eternals (November 5).