The long-delayed James Bond film No Time To Die will finally be unveiled this week and star Daniel Craig has said he hopes it will provide a shot in the arm for cinemas following long closures due to the pandemic.
The movie, which will be Craig’s final outing as 007, was initially due for release in April 2020.
As concerns about the coronavirus pandemic grew, the release was pushed to November 2020 and has been moved several times since then, in continued blows for the cinema business.
When it was announced the film was being pushed back to April 2021, Cineworld announced it would close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites.
Multiplexes have started to see the return of crowds for franchise favourites such as Fast & Furious 9 and Marvel properties Black Widow and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, which posted the biggest three-day opening in the pandemic era in the UK with £5.8 million.
The top grossing film of the year so far in the UK is Peter Rabbit 2, which has amassed £20.2 million since its release in May, according to figures provided to the PA news agency by the BFI.
However, cinemas will be hoping it is the allure of Bond that will draw back hesitant crowds who are yet to venture back inside to sit in front of a screen.
Craig told PA: “There’s a great deal of expectation surrounding this film.
“I believe in cinema, it’s the job I do and having this film come out right now and try and hopefully to give the industry some sort of boost.
“Cinema is here to stay as far as I’m concerned and if we can help in some way, I’ll be very happy.”
It was reported that studio MGM held discussions with Netflix and Apple about releasing No Time To Die directly on to a streaming platform but, asked if it came close to the film bypassing a theatrical release, producer Barbara Broccoli told PA: “Not for us.
“Fortunately, we have great partners with MGM and they stuck with us, and the pressure was tremendous on them, obviously.
“But I think we’ve learned many things during this 18-month period and certainly one of them is the sense of community, that we need people, we’re social creatures, and we need each other.
“I think there’s no better place to come together than the cinema.
“And we are hoping this is going to be a joyful return for people to come back with their friends and their families to see the film and to again celebrate, after a very long and difficult period.”
Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek, who joins the franchise as villain Safin, said he will always believe in the importance of the theatrical experience.
He told PA: “I would be devastated if we lost this great global pastime.
“It is, for me, one of one of the great arts that we have to share with each other and with the world and if this film can reinvigorate our ability to go back to those places that we just have fallen in love with in our youth and throughout our lives, then I would feel a great privilege.
“I won’t say I’d be responsible for it, but I’d love to be included in bringing that back, to be able to share with the world.
“We need it. I will always have faith in the theatrical experience.”
No Time To Die will have a world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28 with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in attendance.
The film will be released in UK cinemas on September 30.