The founders of two of the most popular James Bond fan sites are asking the studios behind the next Bond film to delay its release due to coronovirus.
No Time to Die is due for release on 3 April but fans have asked for it to be held back to the summer “when experts expect the epidemic to have peaked”.
The open letter is from the founders of MI6 Confidential and The James Bond Dossier, James Page and David Leigh.
“It is time to put public health above marketing release schedules.”
The letter, titled No Time for Indecision, continued: “With a month to go before No Time to Die opens worldwide, community spread of the virus is likely to be peaking in the United States.
“There is a significant chance that cinemas will be closed, or their attendance severely reduced, by early April. Even if there are no legal restrictions on cinemas being open, to quote M in Skyfall, ‘How safe do you feel?’”
Their request came as Disney cancelled plans for a red carpet gala to launch its streaming service, Disney+, in the UK.
The event, which was due to take place on Thursday 5 March, was called off “due to a number of media attendee cancellations and increasing concerns at the prospect of travelling internationally,” the company explained.
Acknowledging that the decision had been made out of an “abundance of caution”, it said alternative plans, including webcasts, would be put in place for interviews with actors and Disney executives.
A similar level of caution prompted Page and Leigh’s open letter to the Bond producers.
They cited particular concern over the UK premiere set for 31 March, suggesting that with numbers gathering at London’s Royal Albert Hall expected to top 5,000, “just one person, who may not even show symptoms, could infect the rest of the audience”.
“This is not the type of publicity that anyone wants.”
The pair wrote that delaying the release until the summer wouldn’t be a huge hardship for the companies involved.
“It’s just a movie. The health and wellbeing of fans around the world, and their families, is more important. We have all waited over four years for this film. Another few months will not damage the quality of the film and only help the box office for Daniel Craig’s final hurrah.”
The letter was addressed to producers EON, and the film companies MGM and Universal. The BBC has approached the various parties for comment.
Some film analysts have suggested the coronavirus could wipe $5bn off the global box office, with many of China’s cinemas already closed and revenues hit in South Korea and Italy.
Meanwhile, there is concern over the viability of the 10-day South by Southwest (SXSW) festival that usually attracts more than 70,000 attendees to Austin, Texas.
Deadline reported that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has cancelled his plans to appear, due to a company-wide curb on travel prompted by the virus.
Organisers said in a statement on the festival website: “SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event”.
The event includes music performances, film screenings and events and comedy.