The latest Bond came in at the low end of unrealistic expectations, but its gross is still another sign of improvement.
“No Time to Die”
With $56 million, “No Time to Die” is the fifth-largest opening weekend this year. That’s logical for a film with an audience that skews much older, and non-minority, than what propelled three Marvel character films and “F9” to better initial results.
Massive press interest aside, current Bond films have far less mainstream appeal than they did in the 20th century. One statistic to explain what 007 is up against: 36 percent of its domestic audience was over 45, and 57 percent was over 35. For “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” last weekend, more than two-thirds of its audience was under 35.
In a release announcing its Bond results, United Artists indicated that 25 percent of its audience returned to theaters for the first time since before the pandemic. That’s a big boost, but a larger pool of prime Bond fans are still hesitant. Add that to the normal franchise film-to-film drop: The opening weekend for “No Time to Die” represented a 20 percent fall from “Spectre,” which represented a 20 percent drop from “Skyfall.”
With “Carnage” taking in an additional $32 million (already over $141 million in 10 days), this was the first weekend since Christmas week 2019 to have two titles over $30 million. Unlike earlier top openings this year, “No Time” had competition, and this likely cost it millions in initial gross.
Worldwide, most countries are now in their second week (with China and Australia to come). Including domestic, it has taken in $313 million. Major territories like the U.K./Ireland, Germany, and Japan dropped under 30 percent, though several fell more than 40 percent. With most of the world open, it looks that this will fall short of the $881 million “Spectre” total.
That is not a mark against “No Time.” The sole non-Chinese film to gross over $500 million this year is “F9” at $717 million. In 2015, “Furious 7” grossed over $1.5 billion, with “Spectre” grossing about 60 percent of that total. “No Time” will likely end up with a better relative share.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” dropped 64 percent, slightly less than “Black Widow” and “F9,” more than “Shang-chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Figure that Bond was a factor; other titles did not have similar strong competition.
Last week’s other two openings, both with home availability, had different trajectories. “The Addams Family 2” followed its surprisingly strong debut with a 42 percent drop. The initially weak “The Many Saints of Newark” (Warner Bros.) fell 67 percent.
The total for the weekend will come in around $109 million. That’s down $20 million from last weekend but is only the fourth weekend this year over $100 million. This is 76 percent of the same dates in 2019. Our ongoing four-week rolling figure is 60 percent from 2018. Combined with last week’s 85 percent, October looks headed for at least the hoped-for 75 percent total compared to 2019.
Two new titles entered the top 10. “Lamb,” A24’s Icelandic genre drama, is tied for #7 with $1 million in 583 theaters. That’s close to double what the similarly edgy/young audience-oriented Cannes-premiere “Titane” did last week in almost as many theaters. That’s a decent result for a specialized foreign-language release, although the sub-$2,000 per-theater average suggests the strongest benefit will be elevating attention for future Premium VOD play. “Doctor” (Hamsini), a Tamil-language Indian film, is #10 in with $220,000 estimated in 111 theaters.
“The Last Duel”
One of the high-profile film delays of 2020 was “The Last Duel”, the Ridley Scott historical epic starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Jodie Comer. This is the production that resulted in Damon and his family being locked down in Ireland in the spring. A trailer is now here for The Last Duel, and it looks like Fridging: The Movie, in which Jodie Comer’s character, Marguerite de Thibouville, suffers just so that her doink husband can have a big fight with his rapist ex-friend. BUT. Since this film was announced, I read Eric Jager’s 2004 book, also called The Last Duel. And then I contacted a former professor, a medievalist, about getting a copy of Jean Froissart’s contemporary 14th century accounting of the trial and the duel recounted by Jager, and now depicted on film by Scott. And I think there’s a sliver of a chance The Last Duel won’t be garbage. There is definitely a window here to connect these events to how we view sexual assault in society today, and a chance to make a damning critique of toxic masculinity and a society that simply refuses to just believe women.a