James Bond’s No Time To Die will release in China after passing their censorship board. The 25th entry in the Bond franchise is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and is the final film for actor Daniel Craig, who has played the character in four previous installments of the franchise. The film co-stars Rami Malek, Ana de Armas, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, and Jeffrey Wright. No Time To Die finds the famous secret agent out of active service and pulled back into a plot that tugs the threads together from all of the Craig-era films.
No Time To Die has faced countless delays and is the longest-delayed of the COVID era, having originally been scheduled to release in November 2019. Since that time, the film has suffered numerous delays with lockdowns and the shifting tide of the theatrical market. With the budget depleted on marketing, the film is unlikely to deviate from its new release date of October 8, 2021, and the Bond producers have expressed that they are hoping simply for a big hit in the UK at this juncture.
However, now comes news via Variety that No Time To Die has passed Chinese censors and will be released in the country at some point. When that will be is unknown, as the timing is difficult. China is about to enter its weeks-long National Day holiday, which focuses on its homegrown propaganda films over foreign markets, putting Bond at a slight disadvantage despite the censorship approval. WB and HBO Max’s Dune has also passed the censors and will be released in the country, which is a win for both films as China represents the largest film market in the world.
The last two Bond films were a big success in China, with 2012’s Skyfall taking $59 million and 2015’s Spectre pulling in $84 million in that market. Although No Time To Die is getting released in China, no date is set, which could inhibit profits as it will release in other markets, including the U.S. and U.K., within the next month. The issue this causes is piracy, which is sure to hinder numbers in China depending on how long the theatrical release is delayed there.
While China has become the world’s largest market for theatrical releases it has also posed a lot of problems for U.S. distributors. One of the key issues is censorship in general, as China is a Communist nation with very strict rules about what can and can’t be portrayed in movies played there. Many films aren’t allowed a theatrical release, often for things that involve supernatural elements or anything perceived as portraying the country in a negative light, as may be the case with Marvel’s Shang-Chi. As studios move to make as much money as possible on the theatrical model, all eyes will be watching how much they will curb or bend creatively in order to pass censors in that market, thereby inhibiting the artistic expression in western films. Hopefully, No Time To Die was able to pass without any modifications, but audiences likely won’t know for sure until the film opens in China.
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