Has MGM's No Time to Die delay delivered a death warrant?

Claire Dowens investigates the re-delay of James Bond, that could have caused the Cineworld closures.

Claire Maggie Dowens
18th October 2020
No Time To Die (2020). Image: IMDB.
With the latest James Bond instalment postponed yet again amidst the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, it is a crucial moment to reflect upon what this could mean for the future of cinema theatres both worldwide and our local city of Newcastle. Is it possible that the cinema industry is increasingly being forced into a bleak and inescapable black hole; its own time to die?

Earlier this year, it was announced that the premiere of No Time to Die, would be moved from April to November due to the pandemic. However, with only one month left for fan’s to eagerly anticipate its release (myself included), it has recently been announced that the film will be further delayed until April 2021 as a result of the global resurgence of coronavirus cases.

In a statement issued by a spokesperson on behalf of MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, it was reaffirmed that the film has once again been rescheduled “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience.” As disappointing as this may seem to many avid fans and cinemagoers, I can’t help but feel that the studio’s painstaking decision to postpone the release of the film, is ultimately the safest and most sensible option at present.

Whilst this may be the best course of action implemented by the studio, it leaves cinema theatres in an impossible situation

Even agent 007 himself, Daniel Craig, has justified the producers’ decision to delay the film for another five months. Speaking on The Tonight Show, he explained how the pandemic was the prime reason for the movie’s postponement, stating, “This thing is just bigger than all of us. We just want people to go and see this movie in the right way, a safe way.”

Wonder Woman 1984 has been delayed four times
Image: IMDb

Whilst this may be the best course of action implemented by the studio, it leaves cinema theatres in an impossible situation. The postponement of No Time to Die follows the deferment of two other blockbuster, autumn releases: Wonder Woman 1984 and Marvel Studios’ Black Widow. In addition, a number of other high-profile films including Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story, have also been pushed back. Without these new and much anticipated blockbusters which generate a major amount of income for theatres, it is obvious that they will struggle to maintain their regular audience numbers, threatening their ability to remain in business.

As a regular cinemagoer and 'Unlimited' cardholder of Cineworld, it certainly came as no surprise to me to find out that the company would be temporarily closing all of its UK cinemas. Having been to see Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited sci-fi, Tenet, as soon as it was released in August, I immediately knew upon entering an empty and lifeless auditorium that the future of the company was destined for the same dark destruction that has seen many other arts venues fighting for their survival.

The Tyneside Cinema for instance [...] has openly admitted its continuous financial struggle since the pandemic began

What is perhaps most concerning, is what this means for the wider cinema scene in relatively small cities, such as our beloved town of Newcastle. If a company such as Cineworld, the world’s second largest cinema chain, has opted to close for the time being, what hope is there for smaller independent cinemas? The Tyneside Cinema for instance, which has been at the heart of Newcastle since the 1930’s, has openly admitted its continuous financial struggle since the pandemic began. With only three main cinemas situated in Newcastle city centre, including Cineworld, which is now temporarily shut, we are facing the inconceivable possibility of living without cinema for the foreseeable future.

Many would argue that the second delay of No Time to Die has effectively killed cinema in itself, destroying the opportunity for both large numbers of footfall and revenue. I protest that it is the impossible state of managing an unprecedented pandemic amidst an ongoing catch 22 situation; movie studios reluctantly postponing blockbuster films until they can be guaranteed audience numbers and cinema owners' inability to prove that they can generate these mass audiences, due to the scarcity of high-profile films.

Will we be seeing the latest Bond on the big screen in spring next year and might the cinema industry perhaps die another day? Only time will tell.

Featured Image: IMDb

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