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Box Office: ‘No Time To Die’ Tops $20M As ‘Battle Of Lake Changjin’ Soars In China

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

In what could be one of the more interesting/exciting weekends at the global box office since the pandemic began, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is opening this weekend in North America as No Time to Die rolls out overseas, Dune faces its first real global box office competition and China’s The Battle at Lake Changjin may top all of them (and maybe top all of them combined) after a boffo $95 million first two days. That near-three hour war epic, about the People’s Volunteer Army fighting against the Americans during the Korean War, is expected to give China’s comparatively struggling box office a kick in the ass before it starts getting more Hollywood flicks (Dune on October 22, No Time to Die on October 29, etc.) hopefully on the regular.

I have not seen the war epic, which stars Wolf Warrior II’s Wu Jing along with Better Days’ Jackson Yee and Duan Yihong what is China’s first $200 million-plus budgeted epic. However, for what it’s worth, I both rather liked The Eight Hundred (last year’s biggest Chinese blockbuster with $470 million) and found it a lot less nationalistic and more cynical than I expected. The grim and violent pre-World War II China vs. Japan survival story was very much concerned about, to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt how “war is young men dying and old men talking.” Anyway, the film has thus far earned a 9.5 on Maoyan and a 7.6 on Douban and could earn $200 million by Sunday night. We’ll see how it fares alongside Venom 2 and James Bond 25.

Speaking of, No Time to Die has earned $22 million in its first two days of release. The Daniel Craig-starring James Bond flick notched $20 million on Thursday, which counts at least some of the money noted in yesterday’s update via previews, midnight showings and the like. The over/under $250 million actioner (which I imagine was partially made up via product placement deals as is normal for the 007 series) has now earned $22 million as it heads into the traditional Fri-Sun weekend. That includes $6.6 million in the UK and Ireland on Thursday, making up 94% of all UK revenue and marking the third-biggest opening day of the 007 franchise.

It was 14% above the Monday debut of Spectre and 30% behind the Friday opening day of Skyfall. It nabbed, in the United Kingdom, the biggest single-day gross for September and thus far during the pandemic. The Cary Fukunaga-directed flick earned $2.8 million on Thursday in Germany from 1,300 screens, accounting for 84% of the market and more than 10x what Dune grossed on its third Thursday. It set new pandemic-era milestones, with an opening day double that of F9. It earned $1.3 million on Wednesday and Thursday in South Korea, while Denmark posted a $1 million opening day for 85% of total box office.

Offhand, Sweden earned $990,000, the Middle East contributed $1.7 million in 985 theaters and Mexico opened with $588,000, or 37% above Skyfall’s opening Thursday. It scored the fifth-biggest Thursday even in the Netherlands with $681,000 along with $615,000 in Switzerland. The film broke single-day 007 records in Hong Kong ($544,000) and earned $573,000 in Italy despite 50% capacity limitations. No Time to Die earned $1.7 million on Friday in Japan, the biggest opening day for the 007 series and the second-biggest MPA opening day so far during the pandemic.

Penned by franchise regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with assists from Scott Z. Burns, director Cary Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, No Time to Die stars franchise vets Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright. Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek join the party. And no matter what becomes of the series, I hope some of the supporting cast comes back. We’re all hoping/expecting a $90-$115 million global opening week in advance of the film’s domestic debut on October 8 and its bow in China on October 29.

All things being equal, especially as the reviews are mostly positive and the buzz should be halfway decent, I’d imagine MGM will be just fine with a global gross closer to Casino Royale ($616 million) than Spectre ($881 million) or Skyfall ($1.11 billion). Especially with MGM being purchased by Amazon, it’s far more important that folks seem to enjoy this latest James Bond movie, to the extent that they’d like to see more, versus whether it measures up to the pre-pandemic expectations. James Bond 25 breaking records is less important than maintaining interest in James Bond 26.

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