London: Celebrities and royals walk the red carpet in central London on Tuesday for the much-delayed world premiere of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die.
The latest British spy movie will be actor Daniel Craig´s fifth and final outing in the blockbuster franchise. The film is set to hit big screens after its release was repeatedly postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The film will be shown at London´s historic Royal Albert Hall, with royal couples Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince William and Kate set to attend.
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.
The film is part of a backlog of major productions held back by distributors during the pandemic, hitting cinemas hard. The release will be cinema-only, not streaming, which Craig called a "joyous thing" in an interview with Sky News.
Vue Entertainment, the UK branch of the cinema operator Vue International, hailed the movie´s release as "the cinematic event of the year".
- Craig bows out -
In the latest film, reportedly costing $250 million (£182 million, 214 million euros), Bond returns to active service after retirement, vowing: "I have to finish this."
He deploys his trademark hi-tech gadgets in spectacular scenery in Italy and Norway while battling the villainous Safin, played by Oscar-winner Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody).
"I get shot and then I get blown up. It feels like James Bond to me," Craig said in an official podcast.
With Craig bowing out, speculation has mounted over who will inherit his license to kill.
UK bookmakers are tipping the likes of Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Dunkirk) or Rege-Jean Page, the mixed-race star of the Netflix hit Bridgerton.
Craig has held onto the role longer than any of his predecessors since his 2006 debut in Casino Royale.The 53-year-old has won praise for adding depth and emotional complexity to the all-action role, but only reluctantly agreed to one final appearance as Bond.
After Spectre in 2015, Craig told Time Out magazine he would rather "slash his wrists" than reprise the role.
Emmy-winning US filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga directed the new film, becoming the first American to helm the franchise. His previous films include a 2011 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte´s Jane Eyre.
The filmmaker stepped in after the original director Danny Boyle, known for Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, left over "creative differences" in 2018.
The Bond films are based on a character created by upper-class British writer Ian Fleming in novels published in the 1950s and 1960s.