James Bond franchise film “No Time to Die” opened in top spot at the box office in South Korea on Wednesday. But the opening score on its commercial debut won’t require a rewrite of the local record books.
The film earned $663,000 (KRW785 million) from 104,000 ticket sales, according to data from the Kobis box office service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic). That was achieved from 3,937 screening sessions and represented a 62% share of the Wednesday box office total.
The “No Time to Die” Movie numbers look decently solid in a market that in pre-COVID times was the world’s fourth largest (only behind North America, China and Japan), but which has suffered an only stuttering return to life since the pandemic. The coming weekend will bring more clarity.
With new COVID infections running at over 2,000 per day for the past five days, health restrictions look likely to remain in place for another couple of weeks. Greater Seoul has been under Level 4 conditions, the highest under the country’s four-level system, since July. These restrict cinema hours and capacity. The rest of the country is on Level 3.
Further analysis points to 27% of Wednesday’s total coming from Seoul and 3.8% from Imax screens. Distributed by Universal Pictures International Korea, the film is available in 2D digital, 4D, Imax, ScreenX and Dolby Cinema formats in the country.
The Bond franchise has never been the strongest performer in Korea, and Universal’s 2015 “Spectre” was weaker than 2012 “Skyfall” from Sony.
“Skyfall” sold 202,000 tickets on its opening day, worth KRW1.51 billion ($1.28 million at today’s exchange rates), leading to a lifetime score of 2.37 million spectators and a gross of KRW17.5 billion ($14.8 million at today’s exchange rates).
“Spectre” opened with 188,000 first day ticket sales and a gross of KRW1.45 billion ($1.22 million at current exchange rates) before going on to achieve a lifetime score of 1.82 million spectators, producing a final box office of KRW14.2 billion ($12 million at current exchange rates).
More generally, the Korean public has shown a continuing nervousness towards a mass return to movie theaters. Box office briefly surged for the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays in mid-September, but plunged again to three month lows during the latest weekend.
The industry has suffered supply side problems as some venues have closed permanently and several leading Korean titles have been delayed or canceled.
At the same time, streaming to home or mobile is becoming normalized. Industry tracker WiseApp estimated that Netflix earned revenues of $68 million in Korea in August, more than aggregate nationwide theatrical grosses of $64 million (KRW76.3 billion) in the same month. WiseApp estimated that Netflix’s subscription base in Korea has now reached 5.14 million, compared with 3.16 million a year earlier.
‘No Time to Smile’: Swiss Audience Conflicted Over James Bond Premiere at Zurich Film Festival
Taking place at the Zurich Convention Center two days before its official theatrical release, the Swiss premiere of “No Time to Die” 2021 attracted a slew of local celebrities, Zurich Film Festival delegates and even Finnish racing driver Kimi Räikkönen, all of whom were eager to witness Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007.
The event marked the film festival debut for a James Bond movie, and the gathered audience rose to the occasion with no-nonsense opinions about the 25th instalment in the franchise.
“It was surprising, it was different, it was good,” Swiss TV host Sven Epiney, one of the country’s top presenters, shared with Variety after the screening. But with a run time of 163 minutes, “It’s a long, long movie.”
Online content creator Adrian Vogt also bemoaned the length of the film, adding: “It’s not the best Bond, but it’s the most impactful Bond. I remember watching the one with the exploding milk bottles [“The Living Daylights”], but there is no comedy in the new James Bond films — it’s too serious! Daniel Craig never smiles. No time to smile!”
While others praised Craig’s performance and highlighted the emotional power of the story (“I almost cried,” shared actor Annina Euling, while radio producer Ranja Kamal deemed it “more emotional than your usual Bond film”), audiences were surprised by the movie’s twists and turns.
“It was just different,” said model Kevin Lütolf, with artist Marc Ohnio adding that the film represented “something new for the James Bond franchise.”
“The end was not what I expected,” said Marc Schmidt, who attended the screening with wife Irene after winning tickets to the premiere. “Still, everyone should see it — just make sure to find a comfortable chair!”
Swiss R&B and soul singer Seven appreciated the film’s finale, calling it “pure drama.” After a long wait (“It feels like we’ve been waiting to see this film for 10 years”), he was hoping for something dark and dramatic, and an “honorable” exit for Craig. What he got certainly lived up to his expectations: “It was so classy,” he said.
“It wasn’t fishing for gadgets, there wasn’t a lot of product placement — it was a deep, very good movie and it showed just how damaged these characters are on the inside, how they clash and how similar they are in the end,” Seven continued. “I thought we would be reminded of everything Daniel Craig has gone through as Bond; ‘The best of’ kind of film. And they just didn’t go there! Whether you haven’t seen any Bond movies or seen them all, it just doesn’t matter.”
The expectations were riding high already before the screening, with guests sharing their memories of the franchise — which celebrated Swiss landscapes in films such as “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” — and debating its future.
“For me, it’s all about the first Bond and the last: Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, who changed this role a bit,” said Epiney. “But it’s good. The times are changing and so do the people. That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing who will be next, if it’s going to be a he or a she.”
A long-rumored female Bond — ruled out earlier this week by producer Barbara Broccoli — wasn’t something everyone was waiting for, however, with former Miss Switzerland Christa Rigozzi stating: “I love James Bond as a man.”
“I don’t think we need a female James Bond — just give us another franchise with a female lead,” added Swiss sprinter Mujinga Kambundji, noting that she wouldn’t mind appearing in one of the films herself. “If they would ask me, I would do it. I don’t have that many skills, but I can run really fast.”
Grammy-nominated singer Eric Benét, in town with the Montreux All Star Band, also threw his hat into the ring.
“It’s time for a Black James Bond,” he declared. “That good-looking guy [‘Bridgerton’ breakout Regé-Jean Page] is great, there’s Idris Elba, and I would be an even better one. Where the Broccolis at?”