Shaken or stirred? ‘No Time to Die’ opens with $56 million for Daniel Craig’s final Bond

Was this past weekend’s long-awaited debut of “No Time to Die” in North American theaters an unqualified success or a big disappointment? Perhaps neither, or maybe both. Following a successful international bow last week, “No Time to Die” hit theaters in the U.S. and Canada this weekend and grossed an estimated $56 million in its debut frame, a number that came in on the low-end of studio expectations and roughly $14 million less than the launch of “Spectre” in 2015. Among the five James Bond films with Daniel Craig as 007, “No Time to Die” had the fourth-ranked opening, after “Skyfall,” “Spectre,” and “Quantum of Solace.”

But while the “No Time to Die” opening wound up significantly lower than some perhaps anticipated — there was some online buzz that “No Time to Die” could even crack $100 million in just three days — the $56 million launch was the result of some mitigating factors. For instance, “No Time to Die” is nearly three hours long, nearly double the length of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which set a pandemic record with a $90 million opening. That running time (“No Time to Die” is actually two hours and 43 minutes, making it the longest Bond film ever), meant theaters were not able to cram an extra showing or two of 007 in each day.

Then there’s the Bond audience. Unlike “Venom 2,” which skewed younger — 25 percent of the audience was under 25 during its opening weekend — the James Bond films have traditionally been a hit with older viewers. To that end, more than 57 percent of ticket buyers were over 35 while 36 percent were over 45. As The Hollywood Reporter noted, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” only received 9 percent of its record-opening ticket sales from that same age group.

To that end, “No Time to Die” is arguably a success — and that’s before including the global haul so far, which has topped $313 million. Craig’s Bond finale should also have some legs: audiences gave the film an A-minus grade on CinemaScore, and competition in the next couple of weeks is mixed. October 15 brings “Halloween Kills” (also available same-day on Peacock) and “The Last Duel,” a historical epic that doesn’t have the blockbuster potential Bond does. The following weekend, “Dune” arrives (but it will also be available on HBO Max). After that, the next massive blockbuster to hit theaters is “Eternals” on November 5.

Fresh off its massive debut, “Venom 2” dipped just 64 percent to $32 million to land in second place. Its cumulative total so far is $141 million. In third place was “Addams Family 2” with an estimated $10 million. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was in fourth place with $4.2 million (and more than $212 million overall in North America). “The Many Saints of Newark” rounded out the top five with $1.4 million, a 69 percent drop from its disappointing opening. The “Sopranos” prequel is, of course, also available on HBO Max right now.

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