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'No Time to Die' slays box office competition with $56 million debut

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in "No

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in "No Time to Die." Credit: MGM / Danjaq LLC via TNS / Nicola Dove

After over 18 months of pandemic delays, "No Time to Die" opened on target. The final James Bond film of the Daniel Craig era grossed $56 million from 4,407 North American theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday, to easily take the first-place spot.

It didn't break any pandemic or 007 records, but it didn't fall significantly short either and is in fact the fourth-best opening in the 25-film series. James Bond isn't Marvel when it comes to opening weekends. Bond has always had an older audience, which is typically less inclined to rush out for the first weekend. In fact, the best Bond opening ever didn't even crack $100 million. It was $88.4 million for "Skyfall," which debuted in 2012.

"It's been a long time coming to get this movie on the big screen," said Erik Lomis, the head of distribution for United Artists Releasing. "It's right where we thought it would be and right where tracking predicted it would be."

Cary Joji Fukunaga directed this installment, which co-stars Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek, as the antagonist. Both critics and audiences have responded positively (84% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- CinemaScore). According to exit data, audiences were heavily male (64%) and over 35 (57%).

Unlike many films released during the pandemic, a streaming or hybrid release was never even a consideration for "No Time to Die." In addition to being the longest Bond film ever at 2 hours, 43 minutes, it was also an expensive one with a reported production budget of around $250 million. And that doesn't include marketing costs, which reportedly exceeded $100 million.

According to North American distributor United Artists Releasing, 25% of moviegoers returned to theaters for the first time in 18 months this weekend, suggesting that the film will have legs.

"That, I thought, was a pretty significant statistic," Lomis added.

But the profitability of Bond movies ultimately comes down to international, which in the Craig era has regularly accounted for over 70% of the global total. "No Time to Die" launched abroad last weekend, with Universal handling some territories and MGM others, and as of Sunday global grosses were estimated to be over $313.3 million.

In second place was last week's No. 1 film " Venom: Let There Be Carnage," which fell 64% from its record $90 million launch, earning $32 million in its second weekend. The Sony sequel, which is also playing exclusively in movie theaters, has earned $185.6 million globally to date.

Aside from Bond, it was a relatively quiet week at the box office. Other newcomers included A24's haunting Icelandic film "Lamb," which earned $1 million from only 583 theaters and Bleecker Street's "Mass," which opened on four screens to $14,457.

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