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Rave James Bond Reviews Raise Hopes for Moviegoing Revival

(Bloomberg) -- Rave reviews for the long-delayed James Bond movie “No Time to Die” could finally entice people away from Netflix and into theaters.

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Timing can dictate the success or failure of a big-budget release, and the industry has struggled to maintain the suspense around a film that was originally supposed to run in April last year.

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as the gun-toting agent was the most high-profile delay due to lockdowns that shuttered movie theaters worldwide -- forcing the makers to refresh the trailer repeatedly.

The latest installment of the series has received positive reviews from 91% of critics tracked by aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

”It’s better than good. It’s magnificent,” said The Times critic Kevin Maher. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called it “an epic barnstormer” and Robbie Collin of The Telegraph said director Cary Joji Fukunaga “throws almost everything there is left to throw at 007 the series can come up with.”

Movie-going in many countries has been trailing pre-pandemic levels, partly because of social distancing measures that have reduced the audience capacity.

“People are going to look back at this period with Bond as being a watershed moment where audiences were coming back, then Bond came out and we got back to pre-Covid levels,” said Tim Richards, founder and Chief Executive Officer of cinema chain Vue.

Vue has sold 200,000 advance tickets for Bond 25, shifting more tickets in 24 hours than its predecessor Spectre sold in 4-1/2 weeks, he said. There is no more social distancing in Vue U.K. cinemas and people aren’t obliged to wear masks

Bond is only in theaters for now and the movie chains are hoping it will break the lockdown streaming-binge habit and get millions of viewers returning for more.

Vue and other chains have negotiated a minimum theatrical window of at least 45 days, said Richards.

“The battles now are in-home, not out-of-home -- between terrestrial TV, pay-TV, cable-TV and subscription services,” he said. “There is always going to be demand for out of home entertainment.”

Traffic at Vue’s German and Scandinavian cinemas was already back at pre-Covid levels or above, Richards added, while the U.K. has been at about 75-80% of audience numbers before the pandemic.

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