No Time To Die: Bond 25, Finally World Premieres at London’s Royal Albert Hall

After five delays and an industry crisis, the 25th James Bond–which became the first major tentpole to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020–is finally out of the gate with major celebration including stars and royals in London.

 

After much fanfare, a change in director, a rewrite, several release delays and a major global pandemic to contend with, the world premiere for the 25th James Bond film has started at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall, six years since the last 007 installment, Spectre, had opened.

In his final Bond movie, Daniel Craig attends on the red carpet, alongside co-stars Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, director Cary Joji Fukunaga and musician Billie Eilish, whose title song “No Time To Die” has already won a Grammy.

Adding splash of royalty to the A-list mix, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are also among the guests, alongside top brass of MGM, Universal, including Bond gatekeepers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

Tuesday’s world premiere — by far the biggest film premiere in the U.K. in several years and definitely since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — is doing its best to provide the safely needed for the times. All guests are being required to show negative PCR or lateral flow COVID-19 tests before they enter the venue and are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks throughout, as per the official invite. “Although this isn’t compulsory, please be considerate of other guests,” it adds.

No Time To Die is expected to start screening around 8 p.m. U.K-time, the same time as various multimedia screenings taking place elsewhere in the city and around the world (including at the Zurich Film Fest).

The first reactions likely to start emerging when it finishes around 10:30 p.m.

At 163 minutes, it is the longest Bond of all time.

The expectation around the 25th Bond is unlike any world premiere in recent memory, not simply because of the popularity of arguably the most famous film franchise in history, but the unprecedented levels of turbulence it has faced — including no less than five delays — and a release date that many thought would never arrive.

First the film was struck with a major switch at the helm. Danny Boyle — who had originally been attached to direct — left with his writer John Hodge due to “creative differences” in August 2018. Fukunaga came on board a month later, with principal photography taking place from April to October 2019 and a release scheduled for April 2020.

Then the COVID-19 outbreak hit. When MGM and Eon announced in March 4 — with the marketing blitz already in full swing — that No Time To Die was being postponed until November 2020 it became the first of many major tentpoles to be impacted by the pandemic.

It would face two further delays, effectively becoming the fact of the cinema industry’s battle against the biggest crisis in living memory and a film that, due to its box office pedigree, prompted something of a domino effect.

After 2nd postponement in October 2020, pushing it to April 2021 (a date which would move again in February 2021), U.K. cinema giant Cineworld — the world’s second largest chain and the owner of Regal in the U.S. — chose to close its theaters indefinitely, its CEO describing the delay as the “final straw.”

With No Time To Die finally out in the wild, much of the industry — particularly in the exhibition world — is no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief.

“I am so excited,” Ana de Armas said on the red carpet. “I am ready to celebrate.” But she called it “heartbreaking” that it was Craig’s final Bond movie, calling it “a special goodbye.”

Malek also lauded Craig, saying he “gives and gives and gives.” He also called the premiere a great way and “a thrill” to “celebrate this film, celebrate Daniel, the franchise.”

Both stars said they were happy to see audiences returning to cinemas, with Malek saying: “What better film to choose to bring everybody back into the theater. It is a seminal moment in film history, I think.”

Hans Zimmer called the occasion “bloody brilliant.” Asked about scoring his first Bond movie, he said “it is the biggest deal.”

Rory Kinnear said about his experiences with Craig over four Bond films that “obviously it is not just an acting job playing James Bond, there is a hell of a lot of baggage that goes with it in terms of the brand and being a representative for that and a representative, in some ways, for Great Britain.”

Daniel Craig: Five Bond Films

He added that Craig “wears that so beautifully and lively and generously.” Asked about Craig’s legacy, he said “the legacy is obviously the five movies he has made, they would endure, I hope, and provide just as much entertainment for people 30 years down the line as those from 30 years ago provide to us today.”

Wilson said about Craig: ”We are going to miss him terribly, he’s been a great Bond, he’s ticked all the boxes” and delivered, with the star “going out on a high” with this movie. “He exemplifies the hero,” but also “has brought a lot of humanity to the role,” Broccoli said. “Humanity is important more than ever now.”

She added that the premiere was also celebrating “the unsung heroes” of society.