Even James Bond is not immune to the coronavirus. On Wednesday, MGM and Universal Pictures announced that they will postpone the release of the next Bond film, No Time to Die, in response to public-health concerns about the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The film—which will serve as 52-year-old Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007—was slated to premiere March 31 in London, with a U.S. release date of April 10. It will now be released on Nov. 25.
The coronavirus, which has been linked to more than 3,000 deaths globally, has prompted the closure of theaters in Italy, Korea, and China. China, where the disease is thought to have originated, is the second biggest movie market in the world, behind the U.S. “Like every other global company, we’re looking at the marketplace and we’re trying to understand where the markets are down,” an MGM spokesperson told CNN, adding that it “was really an economic decision more than anything else.”
On Monday, several popular Bond fan sites published an open letter entitled “No Time for Indecision” addressed to the film’s producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, expressing concerns about risks associated with the premiere: “With the Coronavirus reaching pandemic status, it is time to put public health above marketing release schedules and the cost of canceling publicity events.” The letter makes a strong case for postponing the release, citing a recent 99.7 percent drop in Chinese box-office sales, and invoking lines from past Bond films to appeal to the studio’s conscience: “Even if there are no legal restrictions on cinemas being open, to quote M in Skyfall, ‘how safe do you feel?’ ”*
It would seem that the letter worked. No Time to Die is the first major Hollywood film to change its American release in response to the coronavirus. Whether other studios will follow suit remains to be seen.
Correction, Mar. 5, 2020: This post originally misstated the percentage drop in Chinese box-office sales. It is 99.7 percent, not 97 percent.