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‘No Time to Die’ is now Hollywood’s biggest release of the year, but 2 Chinese movies have made more money

The James Bond movie "No Time to "Die" recently surpassed "Fast and Furious 9" at the worldwide box office. ...
Daniel Craig in "No Time to Die."
Daniel Craig in "No Time to Die."

  • "No Time to Die" surpassed "F9" as the highest-grossing Hollywood release this year.
  • But the Chinese film "The Battle at Lake Changjin" is the biggest movie at the worldwide box office.
  • China's theatrical industry has recovered quickly from the pandemic thanks largely to local films.

The James Bond movie "No Time to Die," Daniel Craig's fifth and final outing as the character, surpassed "Fast and Furious 9" over the weekend as the highest-grossing Hollywood release this year. It's now earned $734 million at the global box office compared to "F9's" $721 million.

But it's still not the world's biggest movie of 2021.

That title belongs to the Chinese war film "The Battle at Lake Changjin," which has grossed $888 million just from China. It premiered in the US, the UK, and Ireland over the weekend and is set to debut next month in Australia. 

China dethroned the US last year as the world's biggest theatrical market, thanks largely to the success of local productions like "The Battle at Lake Changjin" and "Hi, Mom," a dramedy that is the No. 2 biggest movie in the world this year with $822 million.

the battle at lake changjin
"The Battle at Lake Changjin"

The Chinese government intends to keep its box office at No. 1. The China Film Administration recently laid out its five-year film plan, which includes ensuring that local movies account for at least 55% of the China box office and increasing the number of screens in the region to 100,000 by 2025.

Meanwhile, most Hollywood films have struggled to even hit $200 million in North America as the theatrical industry slowly recovers from the pandemic.

"No Time to Die" has earned $154 million domestically, less than the previous two Bond movies, "Skyfall" and "Spectre." But it's had strong legs in recent weekends with small drops at the box office, likely powered by positive word of mouth and older audiences who waited to see the movie.

Variety reported on Monday, based on anonymous sources close to the production, that the movie could still lose $100 million given its hefty $250 million production budget before marketing expenses. 

MGM, the movie's distributor, pushed back in a statement to Variety, saying in part: "With the PVOD release of the film already doing stellar home viewing business, all while continuing to hold well theatrically, 'No Time To Die' will earn a profit for MGM, both as an individual film title and as part of MGM's incredible library."

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