Development began in 2016. It is the first Bond film to be distributed by Universal Pictures, which acquired the international distribution rights following the expiration of Sony Pictures' contract after the release of Spectre in 2015. United Artists Releasing holds the rights for North America, as well as worldwide digital and television rights; Universal also holds the worldwide rights for physical home media. Danny Boyle was originally attached to direct and co-write the screenplay with John Hodge. Both left in August 2018 due to creative differences, and Fukunaga was announced as Boyle's replacement a month later. Most of the cast had signed by April 2019. Principal photography was from April to October 2019 under the working title Bond 25. The final title was announced in August 2019.
No Time to Die had its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021, and was released in cinemas on 30 September 2021 in the UK and on 8 October 2021 in the US, after being delayed by Boyle's departure and later by the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received generally positive reviews, with many considering it to be a fitting conclusion to Craig's role as Bond, and has grossed $525 million worldwide, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2021.
In the past, a young Madeleine Swann witnesses the murder of her mother by Lyutsifer Safin in a failed attempt to murder her father Mr. White. Safin is shot by Madeleine as he searches for her, but survives. Madeleine flees onto a nearby frozen lake and falls through the ice, but Safin rescues her.
In the present, after the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Madeleine is in Matera with James Bond. Spectre assassins ambush Bond when he visits Vesper Lynd's tomb. Though Bond and Madeleine escape the assassins, Bond believes Madeleine has betrayed him, despite her pleas, and leaves her.
Five years later, MI6 scientist Valdo Obruchev is kidnapped from an MI6 laboratory. With M's approval Obruchev had developed Project Heracles, a bioweapon containing nanobots that infect like a virus upon touch and are coded to an individual's DNA, rendering it lethal to the target and their relatives but harmless to others. Bond has retired to Jamaica, where he is contacted by CIA agent Felix Leiter and his colleague Logan Ash, who ask for Bond's help in finding Obruchev. Bond initially declines, but after Nomi, an MI6 agent and his successor as 007, tells him about Project Heracles, Bond agrees to help Leiter, over Nomi's warnings not to interfere.
Bond goes to Cuba and meets Paloma, a CIA agent working with Leiter. They infiltrate a Spectre meeting for Blofeld's birthday to retrieve Obruchev. Still imprisoned in Belmarsh, Blofeld uses a disembodied "bionic eye" to lead the meeting and order his members to kill Bond with a "nanobot mist", but it kills all the Spectre members instead, as Obruchev had reprogrammed the nanobots to infect them on Safin's orders. Bond captures Obruchev and rendezvous with Leiter and Ash, but Ash, a double agent working for Safin, kills Leiter and escapes with Obruchev.
Moneypenny and Q arrange a meeting between Bond and Blofeld in prison to try to find Obruchev. Safin visits and coerces Madeleine to infect herself with a nanobot dose to kill Blofeld, as she has been in contact with him since his imprisonment. When Bond encounters Madeleine at Blofeld's prison cell, he touches her and unknowingly infects himself before she leaves. Blofeld confesses to Bond that he staged the ambush at Vesper's tomb to appear as if Madeleine had betrayed him. Bond reacts by attacking Blofeld, unintentionally causing the nanobots to infect and kill him.
Bond tracks Madeleine to her childhood home in Norway and learns she has a five-year-old daughter, Mathilde, who she claims is not his. Madeleine tells him that when Safin was a boy, his parents were murdered by her father on Blofeld's orders. Having avenged them by killing Blofeld and destroying Spectre, Safin continues his rampage with Ash and their entourage in pursuit of Bond, Madeleine and Mathilde. Though Bond kills Ash and his thugs, Safin captures Madeleine and Mathilde.
Q enables Bond and Nomi to infiltrate Safin's headquarters in a missile base, converted to a nanobot factory, on an island between Japan and Russia, where Obruchev is mass-producing the technology so Safin can use it to kill millions of people. Bond kills many of Safin's men while Nomi kills Obruchev by pushing him into a nanobot vat. Madeleine escapes captivity while Safin releases Mathilde. Nomi takes Madeleine and Mathilde away from the island while Bond stays behind to open the island's blast-resistant silo doors, calls in a missile strike from HMS Dragon to destroy the factory, then kills Safin's remaining men.
Safin ambushes Bond, shooting and infecting him with a vial containing nanobots programmed to kill Madeleine and Mathilde. Despite his injuries, Bond kills Safin after a fight and opens the silos. Speaking by radio with Madeleine, Bond tells her he loves her and encourages her to move on without him. Madeleine confirms that Mathilde is his daughter as Bond says goodbye. Missiles hit the island, destroying the nanobot factory and killing Bond.
At MI6, M, Moneypenny, Nomi, Q and Tanner drink in Bond's memory. As Madeleine takes Mathilde to Matera, she tells her about her father, James Bond.
Daniel Craig as James Bond: A former MI6 agent who was known as 007 during his service and has been retired for five years at the start of the film. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga compared Bond to a "wounded animal" and described his state of mind as "struggling to deal with his role as a '00 agent'. The world's changed. The rules of engagement aren't what they used to be. The rules of espionage are darker in this era of asymmetric warfare". Craig stated that the film is "about relationships and family".
Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann: A psychiatrist, daughter of Mr. White, and Bond's love interest who assisted him in his mission in the film Spectre. Fukunaga underscored Swann's importance to the film, as her presence allowed him to explore Bond's unresolved trauma stemming from the death of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. After seeing the film, Seydoux said, "There's a lot of emotion in this Bond. It's very moving. I bet you're going to cry. When I watched it, I cried, which is weird because I am in it".
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin: A terrorist leader on a revenge mission against Spectre who later becomes Bond's new adversary by coming to conflict with him and Swann. Producer Barbara Broccoli described the character as "the one that really gets under Bond's skin. He's a nasty piece of work." Malek described the character as someone who considers "himself as a hero almost in the same way that Bond is a hero". Fukunaga described Safin as "more dangerous than anyone [Bond has] ever encountered" and a "hyper-intelligent and worthy adversary".
Lashana Lynch as Nomi: A new "00" agent who entered active service some time after Bond's retirement and was assigned the 007 number. Lynch has said that she hopes her character brings a new layer of relatability to the world of espionage: "When you're dealing with a franchise that has been slick for so many years, I wanted to throw a human spin on it—to deal with anxiety and be someone who's figuring it out, completely on her toes".
Ben Whishaw as Q: MI6's Quartermaster who outfits "00" agents with equipment for use in the field. In the film, Q is revealed to be queer when Moneypenny and Bond interrupt him planning a dinner date with another man. Whishaw considers his version of Q to have ended saying, "I think I'm done now. I've done the three that I was ... contracted to do. So I think that might be it for me".
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny: M's secretary and Bond's ally. Harris says since Spectre, "Moneypenny has grown up somewhat. I think she still has her soft spot for Bond though, that's never going to go. But she's an independent woman with her own life".
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter: Bond's friend and a CIA field officer. Wright was asked what can be expected from Felix in the film, to which he replied, "Well, I think it's known that Felix pulls James back into the game and away we go from there". While Wright was surprised he was not asked to return in Skyfall and Spectre, he felt Felix's return in No Time to Die "gives more weight" due to his prior absence. Wright said that the film establishes the brotherhood of Bond and Felix, which he described as the "core" of their relationship.
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Bond's arch-enemy and foster brother. He is the founder and head of the criminal syndicate Spectre and is now in MI6 custody. Fukunaga explained why Blofeld returns and teased the character's "new role" in the film by saying, "Blofeld is an iconic character in all the Bond films. He's in prison, but he certainly can't be done yet, right? So what could he be doing from in there and what nefarious, sadistic things does he have planned for James Bond and the rest of the world?"
Lisa-Dorah Sonnet as Mathilde: Bond and Madeleine's five-year-old daughter.
Additionally, Hugh Dennis and Priyanga Burford portray scientists working at an MI6 laboratory. Mathilde Bourbin and Coline Defaud appear as Madeleine Swann's mother and young Madeleine respectively in the film's opening sequence.Brigitte Millar also reprises her role as Spectre chief Dr. Vogel from Spectre.
In February 2018, Danny Boyle was established as a frontrunner for the directing position. Boyle's original pitch to Broccoli and Wilson saw John Hodge writing a screenplay based on Boyle's idea with Purvis and Wade's version scrapped. Hodge's draft was greenlit, and Boyle was confirmed to direct with a production start date of December 2018. However, Boyle and Hodge left in August 2018 due to creative differences. During Boyle's time as director, a leaked casting sheet described the male leading role as a "cold and charismatic Russian" and the female leading role as a "witty and skillful survivor". Production also sought male supporting roles of Māori descent with "advanced combat skills". It was reported at the time that Boyle's exit was due to the casting of Tomasz Kot as the lead villain; however, Boyle later confirmed the dispute was over the script.
Following Boyle's departure, the release date became contingent on whether the studio could find a replacement within sixty days.Cary Joji Fukunaga was announced as the new director in September 2018. Fukunaga became the first American to direct an Eon ProductionsBond film and the first director to receive a writing credit for any version.[a] Fukunaga had been considered for Spectre before Mendes was hired, and afterwards had expressed an interest to Broccoli and Wilson about directing a future Bond film.Linus Sandgren was hired as cinematographer in December 2018.
Purvis and Wade were brought back to start working on a new script with Fukunaga in September 2018.Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace screenwriter Paul Haggis turned in an uncredited rewrite in November 2018, with Scott Z. Burns doing the same in February 2019. At Daniel Craig's request, Phoebe Waller-Bridge provided a script polish in April 2019. Waller-Bridge was hired to revise dialogue, work on character development and add humour to the script. Waller-Bridge is the second female screenwriter credited with writing a Bond film after Johanna Harwood co-wrote Dr. No and From Russia with Love.[b] Barbara Broccoli was questioned about the Me Too movement at the Bond 25 launch event, where she stated that Bond's attitude towards women would move with the times and the films should reflect that. In a separate interview, Waller-Bridge argued that Bond was still relevant and that "he needs to be true to this character", instead suggesting that it was the films which had to grow and evolve, emphasising "the important thing is that the film treats the women properly".
Some concepts changed during development with Fukunaga. An early unrealised idea he considered was to have seen the film take place "inside Bond's head", while being tortured by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre, up until the end of act two of a three-act structure. Originally, Safin, the villain, and his henchman would wear masks based on Siberian bear-hunting armour. The henchman character was written out before filming, and Fukunaga requested changes to Safin's costume. A new mask based on Noh, a Japanese style of theatre, was introduced as Fukunaga felt that the original mask was dominating the costume.
Paloma's costume, a navy Michael Lo Sordo gown, was chosen by costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb to enable the character to fight alongside Bond while still being dressed elegantly and formally for the black tie event in the plot.
The film entered production under the working title of Bond 25. The title No Time to Die was announced on 20 August 2019.[c] Broccoli said, "We were struggling to find a title. We wanted a title that wouldn't give away anything but would be understandable, and after you see the movie, have a deeper resonance, because that's often what Fleming titles are all about".
After Spectre, there was speculation that it would be Daniel Craig's final Bond film. Immediately after the film's release, Craig had complained about the rigours of performing the part, saying he would rather "slash [his] wrists" than play Bond again. In May 2016, it was reported that Craig had received a $100 million offer from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to do two more Bond films, but turned it down. In October 2016, Craig denied having made a decision but praised his time in the role, describing it as "the best job in the world doing Bond". He further denied that $150 million was offered to him for the next two instalments. In August 2017, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Craig said that the next film would mark his final appearance as Bond. He reiterated his position in November 2019 and again in March 2020, following reports that he was in fact considering a reprise of the role one last time. Craig later acknowledged that the physicality of the part had deterred him from returning to the role, having sustained injuries while filming earlier Bond films. With Craig's departure, Broccoli said that No Time to Die would conclude several narratives from Craig's previous Bond films and "come to an emotionally satisfying conclusion".
After the release of Spectre it was reported that Christoph Waltz had signed on to return as Ernst Stavro Blofeld for further Bond films, on the condition that Craig returned as Bond. Despite Craig's definite casting as Bond, Waltz announced in October 2017 that he would not return as Blofeld, but did not give a reason for his departure. Waltz's casting as Blofeld in No Time to Die was not announced at the press launch but was revealed in the trailer in December 2019.
In late August 2019, the second unit moved to southern Italy where they began to shoot a chase sequence involving an Aston Martin DB5 through the streets of Matera. In early September 2019, the main production unit, Craig and Léa Seydoux arrived to film scenes inside several production-built sets, as well as further sequences in Maratea and Gravina in Puglia. Scenes were shot in the town of Sapri in southern Italy throughout September. Locations included the town's "midnight canal" and railway station. The city is referred to as "Civita Lucana" in the film. In late September 2019, scenes were filmed in the Faroe Islands.
Ben Whishaw praised Fukunaga's directing work: "It was great and you know what was amazing is that he treated it, or was able to approach it, it felt to me almost as if it were an independent film. You know? And it was quite improvisational... we didn't do many takes". He added, "It was very light. Sometimes quite chaotic, but I'm very excited to see how he's constructed the final film".
Principal photography wrapped on 25 October 2019 at Pinewood Studios with the filming of a chase sequence set in Havana, Cuba. Production had intended to shoot the sequence earlier, but was forced to reschedule when Craig injured his ankle in Jamaica. Further pick-up shots at Pinewood were confirmed by Fukunaga on 20 December 2019.
Hans Zimmer (left) composed the film's score and Billie Eilish performed the theme song.
In July 2019, Dan Romer was announced as composer for the film's score, having previously worked with Cary Joji Fukunaga on Beasts of No Nation and Maniac. Romer left the film due to creative differences in November 2019.Hans Zimmer replaced Romer by January 2020. It is the first time in the Bond series history that a composer has been replaced during post-production, and the second major personnel change for the film after Danny Boyle left as director. Steve Mazzaro produced the score, while Johnny Marr played guitar. The No Time to Die score album was set to be released through Decca Records in March 2020 but was delayed to 1 October 2021 to coincide with the release of the film.
No Time to Die had its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021, and was released in cinemas on 30 September 2021 in the UK and on 8 October 2021 in the US. The film also opened the same week in September in South Korea and the following week in October in Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia. China and Australia would see the release later in October and November 2021. The film had the highest box office opening weekend takings in the UK for any Bond feature.
On 4 March 2020, MGM and Eon Productions announced that after "thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace" they had postponed the release until 12 November 2020 in the UK and 25 November 2020 in the US.[g]No Time to Die was the first major film affected by the pandemic. According to Deadline Hollywood, MGM and Universal needed to assure a strong performance across all international markets. It was hoped that the rescheduling to November would ensure all cinemas, particularly those in China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, and France that were closed due to the pandemic, would be open and operational.
In the early stages of the pandemic, an estimated 70,000 cinemas in China closed, and countries including Australia and the UK closed cinemas to minimise the spread of the virus.Variety said the studio had already spent $66 million on promoting the film, while The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the delay cost MGM $30–50 million in wasted marketing costs, estimating that the global box office losses could have exceeded $300 million had the film stayed in its April 2020 slot. In October 2020, No Time to Die was delayed again to 2 April 2021. The decision to delay the release was made when it became apparent that theatrical markets, especially in the US, would not see full demand. After the delay was announced, the British chain Cineworld, the world's second-largest cinema chain, closed its cinemas indefinitely. Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said the delay of No Time to Die was the "last straw" for Cineworld following a string of other film delays and cancellations.
In January 2021, the film was rescheduled to 8 October 2021. In February 2021, an earlier release date of 30 September 2021 was announced for the UK. In August 2021, it was announced that the world premiere would be held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021; whilst the release date in Australia was delayed from 30 September to 11 November 2021, in response to their national lockdowns. It was also screened at the Zurich Film Festival on the same day as the world premiere and the first Bond film to be in the official selection at a festival. The release in China would be on 29 October 2021.
As of 24 October 2021[update], No Time to Die has grossed $120 million in the US and Canada and $405.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $525.7million. Due to its combined production and promotional costs of at least $350 million, the film needs to gross at least $800 million worldwide in order to break-even.
No Time to Die's opening weekend set a $119.1 million box office from 54 countries, including the UK, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Spain, besting its $90 million projections. It was the first film since the COVID-19 pandemic that crossed $100 million in an overseas debut without the China market.The Hollywood Reporter stated the premiere was the biggest in the UK since the pandemic began.
In the US and Canada, No Time to Die was projected to gross $65–85 million in its opening weekend. The film made $23.3 million on its first day, including $6.3 million from Thursday night previews (which included $1 millon from Wednesday previews), the best total of the franchise. It went on to debut to $55.2 million, topping the box office and marking the fourth-best opening weekend of the franchise.No Time to Die earned an additional $6.9 million on Columbus Day, bringing its four-day total to over $60 million.Deadline Hollywood attributed the slight underperformance to the film's 163-minute runtime both limiting the number of showtimes, while noting just 12% of the weekend's business came from showtimes after 9 pm (compared to the 90-minute Venom: Let There Be Carnage having 20% of its opening gross come from later screenings).TheWrap said that the opening was good news for theatres, even if the studio did not break-even during the film's theatrical run, and that it was an encouraging sign for upcoming adult-oriented pictures. It fell 56% in its second weekend to $24.3 million, finishing second behind newcomer Halloween Kills.No Time to Die became the highest-grossing film of 2021 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, surpassing F9 on 17 October.
According to review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of 345 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It isn't the sleekest or most daring 007 adventure, but No Time to Die concludes Daniel Craig's franchise tenure in satisfying style."Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 66 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an 83% positive score, with 63% saying they would definitely recommend it.
The film has received praise and five-star reviews from many film critics.Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it "an epic barnstormer" delivered "with terrific panache" and with "pathos, action, drama, camp comedy, heartbreak, macabre horror, and outrageously silly old-fashioned action". Zach Marsh of FilmSpeak called it one of the greatest films in the series, with particular acclaim for Fukunaga's direction of the action sequences; he said Craig's performance was the best of any Bond performance and deserving of an Academy Award nomination, echoing similar sentiments from critics after the premiere of Casino Royale.Robbie Collin of The Telegraph described it as "extravagantly satisfying", "often very funny" with gadgets "both improbable and outrageous", and that it has been filmed with "gorgeous" cinematography, starting with "a sensationally thrilling and sinister prologue" and ending with a "moving conclusion".Kevin Maher of The Times said: "It's better than good. It's magnificent."
Linda Marric of The Jewish Chronicle wrote: "This is truly everything we expected from Craig's last ever Bond, leaving the actor a chance to pursue other projects away from the burden of having to keep on reprising the same role again and again." Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail wrote that the film "makes sure that my eyes are following each and every oh-whoa stunt. As well as guaranteeing that I actually care about whether (or, really, how) Bond gets out of this one."Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film "takes its place among the best of the entire series", and concluded: "Craig leaves the series in a mammoth, 163-minute extravaganza that audiences will be enjoying for decades. It’s a lovely thing to see." K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone described the film as being "just fine: sometimes intriguing, sometimes not, sometimes boring, sometimes not", adding: "It's a bit more successful if we think of it instead as a tribute to the Craig era, and to the star himself."
Some reviewers, though, found fault with the film. John Nugent of Empire criticised its length (2 hours and 43 minutes), asserting that the plotting and exposition in the middle third "doesn't justify that heaving runtime". Nevertheless, he thought the film "a fitting end to the Craig era".Kyle Smith of National Review also criticised the film's length, and described it as "the least fun and most somber excursion in the entire Bond series". Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent found it uneventful and disappointing: its core premise of a biological weapon of mass destruction was described as "generic spy nonsense", while she felt that Rami Malek "gives almost nothing to the role beyond his accent and stereotyped disfigurement makeup". David Sexton of New Statesman wrote that the film "shows signs of emerging from an over-deliberated, market-sensitised production process", adding: "it delivers the set-pieces without ever trying to connect them with any urgency, almost like an anthology or re-mix." Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave the film a score of 2/4 stars, writing: "For something that once felt like it so deftly balanced the old of a timeless character with a new, richer style, perhaps the biggest knock against [the film] is that there's nothing here that hasn't been done better in one of the other Craig movies."
^The filming was part of existing commercial relationships across film and television that use British Armed Forces equipment. The details for this particular financial arrangement were not disclosed.
^In January 2020, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment entered into a pact for a new joint venture to distribute their new releases and libraries for physical home media in North America. Under a separate agreement for international physical home media releases, Warner Bros. will handle the distribution in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK, while Universal will be responsible for physical home media distribution outside these regions, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. The studios will continue to operate their streaming and video-on-demand businesses independently.
^After Boyle's departure, the release was postponed to 14 February 2020, then to 2 April 2020 in the UK and internationally and 10 April 2020 in the US. The world premiere was scheduled for the Royal Albert Hall in London on 31 March 2020.
^Revised worldwide release dates were not published at the time of the announcement.
^Ritman, Alex; Szalai, Georg (28 September 2021). "Daniel Craig Says Goodbye to Bond at 'No Time to Die' London Premiere". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021. Tuesday's world premiere — the biggest film premiere in the U.K. in several years and, definitely, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — required all guests to show negative COVID-19 tests before entering the venue, and guests were "strongly encouraged" to wear masks throughout, per the official invite.