How much is a $250 million blockbuster worth in a world where most of the theaters are closed? It’s a question that’s dogged the major studios throughout 2020, as long-in-the-works, often fully completed feature films, of the kind that cost studios ungodly amounts of money to make, get shunted around the schedule, shuffled over to streaming services, or released into the wilderness of video on demand. For most of the biggest, most expensive films, the obvious tack by the studios has been to delay; after all, there’s no reason to think audiences won’t pony up just as much to see Fast 9 in theaters in 2021 as they would have in the summer of a less horror-movie-ish 2020. (Maybe even more, given how long it’s been since we’ve been able to bask in Vin Diesel’s car-adjacent charisma.) There have been exceptions, though, and new reports suggest that there was possibly, if improbably, another major one: MGM’s latest James Bond film, No Time To Die.
This is per Variety, elaborating on reports that first popped up in Bloomberg, suggesting that MGM went through a phase where it was sniffing around to see if any of the major streaming services would take the film—now set for an April 2, 2021 release date (which, hey: maybe!)—off its hands. Citing a variety of anonymous sources (and noting that MGM itself has flatly denied that it ever tried to shop out its flagship franchise), Variety states that the studio wasn’t planning to let Daniel Craig’s last Bond outing go cheap, either: MGM was apparently seeking something on the order of $600 million, a.k.a. nearly three quarters of what the last Bond movie, Spectre, made at the box office, to get Netflix, Apple, or Amazon to take the film.
According to those same reports, all the major streamers balked at the potential price; given their subscription models, it’s hard to see how even a release as high-profile as a new Bond movie could possibly pay for itself at that sort of cost. (Although Amazon did recently open up those big Bezos bankbooks to pay a reported $125 million for Coming 2 America.) As Variety notes, moving the film to streaming would be massively messy in any case; Bond movies tend to get sponsorship deals out the wazoo, and most of those are made in the assumption that the movie will actually play in theaters, and not nested in between old episodes of The Great British Baking Show and Enola Holmes.
Despite these reports, MGM—which was quick to delay No Time To Die from its April 2020 release date, even before the full effects of the COVID-19 crisis were publicly grasped—has stated that it never wavered from its plans to give Cary Fukunaga’s film a full theatrical release. “The film’s release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers,” the studio stated in a response to Bloomberg’s inquiries.