“Stark Raving Fan” is a column about one man’s love for all things involving popular culture – television, movies, and all facets of pop culture from here to there. Of course, it’s not the kind of love that unites a group of people like a bunch of hippies. More like the kind of love someone has when they’ve blown a gasket and have something to say. After all, aren’t we all just driven mad by fanaticism sometimes?
You heard me, very loud and clear. Look, I have been a mega Bondphile for 25 years. I became addicted when Martin Campbell’s Goldeneye hit theaters when I was in fifth grade. I used to rummage through rows of VHS tapes and scour for all of the Bond films. I needed every single one for my collection. From there I was invested, the films first and the long lineage of books second, immersing myself in the world of Ian Fleming’s creation. I have the logo tattooed on my right arm – not even ashamed a bit. And the Craig era of films have ushered in a new appreciation for a franchise looking to release its 25th installment, a future so bright my Foster Grant’s can’t quell the light at the end of the tunnel.
But seriously, listen here, Barbara Broccoli and Tom Wilson. This is in your best interest and the millions of fans across this world of ours. Releasing Daniel Craig’s grand finale in November is a gross miscalculation on your part. Not only will Cary Joji Fukunaga’s film fizzle, but all that money you want to recoup and earn and fatten your pockets with? Blow a chef’s kiss and, muah, there goes your well-laid intentions, buh-bye!
This popped into my noggin thanks to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. When the trailer originally debuted late last year, fans were abuzz with the celebrated director’s latest sci-fi thriller. All we knew was that John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s equally-talented son, was the lead and had something to do with spies and time travel. Think of the flick as a souped-up Bond thriller with a splash of time-bending hijinks. And then, COVID-19 brought the world to a screeching halt and nothing’s been the same ever since March. The movie was delayed not once, but twice. Many a fan sat by wondering how long they’d need to wait to catch this in theaters. Oh, but going to theaters isn’t exactly the smartest idea these days. You know – COVID.
Warner Brothers toyed with an on-demand/theatrical release hybird. Nolan, though, no no, he wanted audiences to get back to normalcy. People can still flock to cinemas, wear masks, be cognizant of those around them, and still maintain social distancing. Now, Tenet was a big gamble for Warners. The budget’s probably one of the biggest of Nolan’s career, clocking in at roughly $205 million alone before marketing. (You’d think Inception cost more but that cost barely $125 million.) So, hoping that the populace would want to escape from this mundane quarantine we occupy, Warner Brothers released Nolan’s film anyway. Sure, overseas, COVID-19 is much more in check than here in the States. Here, though, people went to their local theaters, shelled out their money – and left empty, aghast, and unhappy with the film they sat through.
To date? The film’s grossed a paltry $29.5 million domestically and respectable $178 million overseas. No, the word’s not “bomb” but Tenet is going to hurt Warners’ bottom line. Suffice to say, the studio took their fall film slate and bumped everything out until at least Christmas. (Don’t worry, that ploy won’t last either. See you in 2021, Wonder Woman 1984!)
Hell, COVID-19 has soured much of the entertainment landscape this year. 2021’s slate of films are languishing behind production schedule. Black Widow is back off the fall menu, Pixar’s Soul may just land on Disney Plus instead. Films that just resumed shooting find themselves delayed again. I mean, Robert Pattinson, DUDE, you halted production on The Batman because you caught the ‘rona! (Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. In this case, you win COVID!) And let’s not talk about the television landscape either. Stranger Things has the scripts but no green light to shoot. Really, The Mandalorian aside, all of my favorite television shows have sat idle. I thought maybe COVID-19 would make the cast and crew of Supernatural want to do a full 16th season but, nope, they collected themselves and just finished their series finale last week. (2020 is better at taking than giving.)
No Time To Die was the one film event I’ve waited for impatiently. Back in March, studios suits were wise to bump this all the way out to November thinking the world would be on the cusp of normalcy. As of this writing, today’s September 15th. The world’s not even close to being what we called normal. A second wave is starting to ebb over to Europe and half our country still thinks this is all a sham. (When y’all gonna learn?) The film’s marketing blitz has really kicked into high gear and isn’t slowing down either. A new 90 second trailer dropped just this morning too. I seriously can’t be the only person who wants this pushed out longer to enjoy in theaters properly, right?
Fukunaga’s first foray into the world of blockbuster tentpoles has a budget of $250 million, marketing not included. By comparison, 1962’s Doctor No was made for a measly $1.1 million – even with inflation to today’s dollar, that still doesn’t come close to No Time To Die at all. You also figure, for a film to really be successful in today’s market, tickets need to amount to 2.5 to 3 times the authorized budget. So, yes, pull out your calculators, there you go. For Daniel Craig’s swan song to be a runaway hit, ticket sales need to cross a cold hard $1 billion. No, I don’t know the marketing costs, I’m not freakin’ psychic. But, if you look back at his last two entries, Skyfall crossed $1.1 billion mark (a first in the Bond franchise) and Spectre netted $880 million.
That was five years ago now though. Audiences have waited on bated breath for this entry. I mean, let’s be real – John Logan’s original script for Spectre was laughable and left a conclusion that go-to screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had to try to salvage. We’ve waited this long to see what Cary Fukunaga is capable of when given the keys to the kingdom. He’s got gifted writers aboard, a cast that’s critically lauded, a composer who’s one of the industry’s best (Hans Zimmer can do better than be stuck on Nolan films – you heard me), and an anticipation only growing more rabid. The theme song hit the market in March and still puts me to sleep. And you know damn well Zimmer’s score is fully recorded and ready to be released for us all to hear. And the movie itself? In the can and fully completed as of March. This past March.
Bond will soldier on with a new actor. Whether the story will continue onward or begin anew is an unknown entirely. One fact I do now unequivocally – dropping No Time To Die in theaters in two months or even dumping on-demand is NOT the path to follow. Smarten up, MGM and Comcast Universal. You know what to do, even if moving this again hurts you, me, and everyone else wanting this conclusion to premiere. Until next time I’ll keep writing them, you keep reading them, and we’ll keep debating everything in-between. Oh, and to refresh your memory as to why this needs bumped to 2021? Watch the below again. Go on. You’re most certainly welcome of the reminder!