Daniel Craig poses for a photograph.
Gulf Today Report
Celebrities and royals walk the red carpet in central London on Tuesday for the star-studded but much-delayed world premiere of the latest James Bond film, "No Time To Die".
British actor Daniel Craig's fifth and final outing in the blockbuster franchise hits big screens after its release was repeatedly postponed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The film will premiere at London's historic Royal Albert Hall, with royal couples Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince William and Kate set to attend.
It is part of a backlog of major productions held back by distributors during the pandemic, hitting cinemas hard, and forcing some new films to be streamed.
The release will be in cinemas only, with struggling theatres hoping Bond will lure back crowds.
Vue Entertainment, the UK branch of the cinema operator Vue International, hailed the movie's release as "the cinematic event of the year".
It will go on general release in Britain on Thursday and in the United States on October 8 -- a year and a half behind schedule.
Daniel Craig returns for a final fifth outing as the suave British secret agent, known for his love of fast cars and cool gadgets.
The movie was originally scheduled to debut in April 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced cinemas to close and impose restrictions on audience numbers.
"This past 18 months has been a pretty terrible time for everybody," Craig told Reuters. "The great thing is we’re here, we got to this point and we can actually now put it into the cinema and ... that’s just all gravy from now on.
"There's a great deal of expectation surrounding this film," Craig acknowledged ahead of the premiere, saying he wanted "hopefully to give the industry some sort of boost".
"Cinema is here to stay as far as I'm concerned and if we can help in some way, I'll be very happy," he added.
Costing an estimated $200 million to produce, "No Time To Die", the 25th Bond film, has been delayed three times since the start of the pandemic.
Despite this, its producers have held out to make sure it is released in cinemas.
"It was designed and filmed and produced to be in the cinemas, to be a cinema experience," producer Michael G. Wilson told the movie's official podcast. "So we're very excited now that it's going to finally come out, we're all raring to go."
Bond films are one of Hollywood's most valuable franchises, with the last two, 2015's "Spectre" and 2012's "Skyfall", grossing $880 million and more than $1 billion respectively globally.
On Monday, London-based cinema operator Odeon said "No Time To Die" was "set to be the biggest opening at ODEON cinemas since summer 2019", and it has sold more than 175,000 tickets.
UK cinemas began reopening in May, albeit with social distancing measures. As these have eased, admissions across the country have increased from 3.5 million in May to 10.4 million in August, according to the UK Cinema Association.
"So we're currently tracking something like 65 to 70% of what you might call normal admissions during the late summer, early autumn," Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, told Reuters.
"There's a hope that Bond will get those admissions back to at least the levels we are seeing in 2019 and hopefully beyond those," he said, adding other upcoming films like "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and "West Side Story" were also important.
On Tuesday, Craig will lead co-stars Lashana Lynch, Lea Seydoux and Rami Malek at the movie's world premiere in London.
"I'm really excited that it's finally coming out ... I'm very happy that (we will have a) reunion with all the people who've worked on the film, to be with them in person because I was afraid to do the whole promotion virtually," Seydoux said.
"For Daniel also because it's his last Bond, it's nice to be all together."
In a related devleopment, Daniel Craig has opened up about his “traumatic” experience of filming James Bond with a broken leg.
The actor injured himself while filming the last Bond film, “Spectre.” He was meant to have an operation on his leg, but pushed it back so as to not interrupt the filming schedule.
Appearing on ITV’s “Being James Bond” documentary, which aired on Sunday (26 September) night, Craig discussed the pain of filming following his accident.
“I had a lot of fun on [Spectre] but part of the problem was that I broke my leg,” he said.
“We had a choice. We could shut down for nine months and I could go and get an operation, or I could crack on with the movie and I didn’t want to shut down for nine months.”
Explaining how he wore a bionic leg but kept doing his own stunts for the rest of the filming process, Craig said that he found the experience to be “massively distracting” and “traumatic”.
“I had to psychologically juggle my physical state,” he said, adding that the leg would sometimes “give way” because of his injury.
“At the beginning of the movie, I climb out of a window and walk down a ledge… I am literally going, ‘Don’t give way, don’t give way’,” he recalled.
“I have a wire on, but it’s very traumatic. I am trying to be cool but my leg is shot.”
Bond producer Barbara Broccoli added that Craig could “barely walk” due to his “excruciating pain” and said that she did not know how he managed to continue filming.
Last year, Craig said that the accident had played into his decision not to continue playing the secret agent beyond No Time To Die, which is released on Thursday (30 September).
“I had to question myself, was I physically capable of doing [another one] or did I want to do another one? Because that phone call to your wife saying, ‘I’ve broken my leg’ is not pleasant,” he said.
Craig married fellow actor Rachel Weisz in 2011.
"No Time To Die" is released on Thursday 30 September
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