'No Time to Die' (Photo credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

Since cinemas reopened around the country, there was one film in particular that exhibitors were banking on to lure audiences back to theatres: No Time To Die.

They were right: With a weekend result of $11.2 million, the 25th Bond film is the highest opener since December 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level, and sits only marginally behind 2015’s Spectre.

Australia was the last major market in the world to debut No Time To Die, the final Bond film with Daniel Craig, bowing here on 817 screens. Worldwide, it has now crossed $US700 million; the only other Hollywood film to hit that threshold in the pandemic-era is Fast & Furious 9.

The local result for the long-anticipated Universal title – one of the first delayed by COVID – has thrilled exhibitors across the country, from multiplexes to through to smaller independent circuits and upscale venues. Most are looking forward with optimism, with a flurry of promising releases between now and the end of the year.

Village Cinemas has programmed over 2,200 sessions for the opening week of No Time To Die, and expects 150,000 people to see the film across its 24 locations.

“We are delighted with the results of No Time To Die, particularly in our Gold Class cinemas. The world-of-mouth of the film is also very good, so the film should hold in incredibly well. Already our pre-sales in Gold Class for weeks two, three and four are stronger than I’ve ever seen,” national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF.

“It shows that the cinema-going market is recovering, and with plenty more blockbusters titles releasing over the next six or so weeks, we look forward to even higher box office returns.”

At Melbourne’s Cinema Nova, Kristian Connelly called the result “simply astonishing”.

“Not only did we see an incredible box office outcome for the 25th James Bond instalment, we also saw the feature open 70 per cent ahead of 2015’s Spectre at our Carlton venue. Furthermore, the arrival of the spy epic didn’t cannibalise the Cinema Nova box office, it grew the box office with the overall weekend-on-weekend increase matching the opening four day tally of the Daniel Craig swansong,” he says.

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari is similarly “absolutely thrilled” by No Time To Die figures.

“By the end of today, the film will rank as our #5 opening week of all time and looks likely to hit the #3, possibly even #2 spot by the end of the cinema week,” he says.

“It really shows that having a must see, theatrical exclusive, broad appeal film makes all the difference. While the other films in the marketplace pale by comparison, I think things will start to improve drastically as more high profile and mainstream films get released and moviegoers get back into the habit.

“Anecdotally we heard lots of feedback this weekend of patrons returning to the cinema for the first time during covid or at least the first time since lookdown ended. No Time To Die seemingly signals some kind of a return to normality for both those inside and outside of the industry so I’m very optimistic about trading for the coming months.”

Overall, the top 20 titles garnered $15.8 million, up 61 per cent on the previous weekend, according to Numero.

The tally does not include Netflix’s The Power of the Dog, which released in select cinemas. The streamer is not reporting results; it similarly did not report for Red Notice, which opened last weekend.

In second spot was Disney’s Eternals, which fell 58 per cent in its second frame with a result of $2.5 million. The Marvel film fell similarly in other markets such as North America, where it dipped 61 per cent. Overall its Australian haul is now $10.5 million.

Bond and Marvel remain the key drawcards, as no other film cracked the $1 million mark.

The next best was Disney’s Ron’s Gone Wrong, which is performing steadily. The animated film gathered $499,732 in its third frame, a dip of just 10 per cent, moving to $1.7 million.

Mindblowing Films’ Hindi-language actioner Sooryavanshi collected $366,332 in its second from just 67 screens, a fall of just 28 per cent, advancing to $1.2 million.

Now 11 weeks in and now also Disney+, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings fell 52 per cent with a result of $328,464, taking it to $16.8 million.

Universal’s Halloween Kills also took a fall in its third orbit, dropping 54 per cent with earnings of $236,842. The 12th film in the franchise now tallies $2.6 million.

Paw Patrol: The Movie is proving a steady earner for Paramount with a ninth weekend result of $169,956, moving it to $3.6 million.

The Many Saints of Newark hasn’t resonated for Warner Bros, ringing up just $151,170 in its second – a tumble of 67 per cent. The Sopranos sequel is now on $669,879.

The Last Duel may be reaching its last legs, with a whopping 73 per cent drop in its fourth weekend to earn just $74,578, moving to $2.4 million for Disney.

Rounding out the top 10 was Forum Films’ Punjabi-language rom-com Paani Ch Madhaani, which mustered $44,794 in its second frame to move to $227,841.

Justin Kurzel’s Nitram remains in the top 20, now on $427,258 for Madman after earning $21,574 in its seventh weekend.

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