Why the James Bond producers should embrace TV after ‘No Time to Die’

No time to die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in ‘No Time to Die’ MGM
  • “No Time to Die,” the new James Bond movie, has struggled to attract younger audiences.
  • Amazon is buying the MGM film studio, which releases the Bond films.
  • A streaming TV series at Prime Video could inject new life into the franchise.

James Bond has never made the leap to TV, but it might be time for that to change.

The character has been the subject of books, video games, and iconic movies. With Amazon set to buy the MGM film studio that distributes those movies, streaming TV is the obvious next step – especially as the film franchise struggles to attract younger audiences.

The latest film, “No Time to Die” – which is star Daniel Craig’s final outing as the character – earned $US56 ($AU75) million at the US box office in its debut, a sluggish start compared to the last three Bond films. Some analysts projected the movie to open closer to $US80 ($AU107) million.

The Bond franchise has always skewed older and “No Time to Die” was no exception. 57% of its audience was aged 35 and older, a demographic that has “been slow to return to the movies” during the pandemic, according to Hollywood consultant David A. Gross.

“If there were any so-called disadvantage to Craig’s tenure becoming less episodic and more story arc-focused, it was that the barrier to entry by the end of his five films was higher among the more casual 007 watchers, especially younger viewers,” said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

To be fair, “No Time to Die” had a solid hold in it second weekend, dropping 57% to $US23 ($AU31) million. It’s on track to pass $US100 ($AU134) million in the US this week. Gitesh Pandya, of Box Office Guru, thinks it could earn around $US700 ($AU935) million globally by the end of its run, which would put it on par with “F9,” the biggest Hollywood release at the worldwide box office this year.

But the movie, which cost $US250 ($AU334) million to produce, could have benefited from the kind of boost from younger audiences that drove ticket sales for recent hits like “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” and “Halloween Kills.”

That doesn’t mean the future of Bond should be solely streaming TV. The franchise has endured for nearly six decades on the big screen and the producers behind it, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, have insisted that won’t change.

Future film installments will have to make an effort to appeal to those in their teens and early 20s, perhaps by casting a younger Bond, as they are now “the driving force of movie theaters,” Robbins said. But movies and shows could coexist, he said.

“I won’t be surprised to see spin-offs of the James Bond universe become streaming television events, but stories focused on James Bond himself have proven themselves as theatrical events for over half a century,” Robbins said.

As media companies focus on streaming, cross-platform franchises are being utilized to drive subscriptions, but those TV series could also lead to more interest at the multiplex. “Star Wars” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have made the leap to streaming as Disney also develops theatrical films. DC movies like “The Suicide Squad” and “The Batman” are getting TV spinoffs at HBO Max.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has hinted at a similar strategy, saying that Amazon will be able to “reimagine” MGM’s IP “for the 21st century.” But any plans for a streaming series will have to get past Broccoli and Wilson first, as they have final say on the creative direction of the series.

They also haven’t entirely ruled out TV for the future, however.

“We have to look to the future,” Broccoli told Variety. “Our fans are the ones who dictate how they want to consume their entertainment.”