'No Time To Die' Won't Go Straight To Streaming, But Conversations With Netflix And Apple Did Happen

No Time to Die may be the one major studio film hardest hit by coronavirus (COVID-19) delays. The latest James Bond flick was set to open in theaters right on the cusp of the March COVID-19 lockdowns, with MGM making the decision to delay the film to November 2020. Then the pandemic wore on, and delays and straight-t0-streaming releases became the norm. No Time to Die was delayed once again to an April 2021 theatrical release. But before it was pushed back, MGM had seriously considered releasing No Time to Die straight to streaming.Variety reports that executives at MGM had considered the possibility of selling No Time to Die to a streaming service for distribution, with platforms like Apple and Netflix throwing their hats in the ring. According to "multiple insiders at rival studios and companies," MGM put the sale to cursory discussions in late September (right before the studio pushed No Time to Die to 2021), seeking a payout of roughly $600 million for distribution rights. But a No Time To Die streaming-only release was ultimately nixed, due to the hefty price tag and the tricky licensing issues for the James Bond film.

Variety notes that the $600 million price tag was considered too big even by loaded streamers like Apple and Netflix, who will still have to navigate the tricky distribution rights. The film had several promotional partnerships lined up with Land Rover, Omega watches, and Heineken to help deal with the $250 million budget, which Apple and Netflix would have to strike some kind of deal with — similar to how Coming 2 America's promotional partners, McDonald's and Crown Royal, came on board when Paramount's sequel sold to Amazon. There's also the issues of the Bond production partners and theatrical distributors like Universal Pictures, which has foreign distribution rights.

MGM did not comment on the sales discussions, telling Variety through a spokesperson: "We do not comment on rumors. The film is not for sale. The film's release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers."

But it's easy to see why MGM was considering the streaming release strategy. The studio reportedly lost between $30 million to $50 million due to the delays, and other studios like Paramount and Sony have slowed the financial bleeding by selling movies like Greyhound, Coming 2 America, and Without Remorse to streaming services. However, the complex web surrounding No Time to Die's distribution rights was likely too much of an investment for streamers.

No Time to Die is still slated for theaters, with the current theatrical release date of April 2, 2021.