DANIEL CRAIG in No Time to Die (2021) — IMDB.COM

LOS ANGELES —  No Time to Die, the latest installment in the James Bond franchise, debuted with $56 million at the North American box office, a result that fell somewhat short of expectations and signals that even one of the most storied brands in film history is still being forced to contend with a moviegoing landscape that has been dramatically altered by the pandemic.

Heading into the weekend, No Time to Die was projected to make $60 million to $70 million in its first three days of release. Though not a disaster, the film’s final weekend total was expected to be higher because it received positive reviews and represented Daniel Craig’s final outing as the stylish secret agent.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, assessing initial box office results for No Time to Die isn’t as clear cut. For some movies, especially during a public health crisis, an opening weekend of $56 million would be cause for great jubilation. But No Time to Die is no ordinary film. It carries a massive $250 million production budget, to say nothing of the more than $100 million marketing spend. Add in the tens of millions it cost to delay No Time to Die, which was supposed to premiere in April of 2020 before the pandemic altered those plans, and box office experts estimate that, conservatively, No Time to Die needs to gross at least $800 million at the global box office to make money in its theatrical window. For Bond, the franchise has numerous marketing partners and ancillary tie-ins, with Rolex, Aston Martin and more, that could help cushion potential losses.

Overseas, audiences have been turning out for No Time to Die at the international box office, where it has already made an impressive $145 million. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), the 007 adventure has opened in most major markets except for China (set for Oct. 29), which is a popular territory for all things Bond. Globally, the film has collected $313 million.

At the domestic box office, the slightly muted results for No Time to Die are attributable to several factors, including hesitation among older audiences to return to the movies and its lengthy two-hour-and-45-minute runtime, which limited the number of screenings per day. It’s also the first Hollywood tentpole with real competition at the box office. Sony’s comic book sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage opened last weekend and has continued to pull in crowds, which may have cannibalized ticket sales for Bond.

With No Time to Die claiming the No. 1 spot on domestic box office charts, the Venom follow-up slid to second place with $32 million, a figure that’s more than many pandemic-era releases have made in their entire theatrical run. In total, Venom: Let There Be Carnage has generated a mighty $141 million in North America and $185 million worldwide.

Since Bond is a property that tends to skewed toward older audiences, a demographic that doesn’t always make an effort to watch a film on its opening weekend, box office analysts have been encouraged by No Time to Die. According to United Artists Releasing, the company distributing the film in the US, 25% of ticket buyers returned to theaters for the first time in more than 18 months for Bond.

In a distant third place on domestic charts, The Addams Family 2 generated $10 million, bringing its North American total to $31.1 million. The animated family comedy, from MGM and United Artists Releasing, is being offered simultaneously on premium video-on-demand platforms.

Disney’s superhero adventure Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings landed at No. 4 with $4.2 million in its sixth weekend in theaters. Globally, the Marvel comic book adaptation has surpassed $400 million worldwide, making it the sixth-highest grossing film of the year. With $212 million in North America, it remains the highest earning movie of 2021 at the domestic box office.

The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos, rounded out the top five with a paltry $1.4 million in its sophomore outing. That puts ticket sales for the Warner Bros. movie, which premiered day-and-date on HBO Max, at a dismal $7.4 million. It cost $50 million to make. — Reuters