The latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, has been hit hard by the myriad delays and theater closures caused by covid-19. It was hit so hard that MGM reportedly considered finding alternate means of distribution altogether.
As reported by Variety, executives at MGM considered the possibility of selling No Time to Die to a streaming service for distribution, with platforms like Apple and Netflix considering the deal. According to the report, sourced from “multiple insiders at rival studios and companies,” the sale was explored in overt terms, with MGM seeking a payout of around $600 million for the distribution rights. As Variety points out, however, it would have been a tricky deal to get right, even outside of the price tag. Multiple involved parties go into making a big-budget film like this possible in the first place, including corporate sponsors (Land Rover and Heineken being two of Bond’s), production partners, and already signed theatrical distributors like Universal Pictures, who had foreign distribution rights.
With all that complexity, it’s no surprise, then, that a deal didn’t go through. But what this story shows is how deeply entrenched, through networks of deals and complex money movements, the standard theatrical system is. No Time to Die was delayed early, originally scheduled for April of this year, and if any film had the time to find another means of distribution, it’s this one. But it seems like, at this scale of production, it’s a difficult prospect for the modern studio system to swallow.
“We do not comment on rumors. The film is not for sale. The film’s release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers,” an MGM spokesperson told Variety.
No Time to Die is still slated for theaters, with the current expectation that it will hit in April of next year.