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James Bond In 3D? Why No Time To Die Was The Right Film To Try 3D On 007

Daniel Craig wearing sunglasses as James Bond in No Time to Die as James Bond
(Image credit: United Artists Releasing)

No Time To Die made history, not only as Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, but also as the first 007 movie to be presented in the premium format of 3D. With producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson being the gatekeepers to this cinematic legacy, the question of what convinced them this was the right film to try 3D on 007 had to be asked. As it turns out, the technology caught up with their exacting standards, and just in time for the 25th Bond movie to be released in such an impressive manner.

As a fan of both James Bond and 3D thrills, the announcement that No Time To Die was going to be released in a plethora of premium formats, 3D included, excited me. That being said, knowing that Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are exacting with how they modernize the Bond movies, I had to ask what swayed them to make this specific decision. As revealed during our celebration of No Time To Die’s triumphant release into theaters, Michael G. Wilson told me that this new frontier for Bond movies wasn’t just an overnight decision: 

It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for some time. People were saying that they’d like to see it. And now 3D has improved a great deal from the time we saw it. It was not that great when you converted. We saw some people were converting this, and it looked pretty good. So we had experimented with it, we liked what we saw, and there you have it.

It seems like a standard business practice to send out blockbusters like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with a 3D version from day one. But No Time To Die, or any other James Bond movie for that matter, isn’t exactly the first movie one would think of when it comes to this special sort of thrills. If anything, IMAX is the primary premium format that comes to mind, as the 007 franchise has become a mainstay in that realm since 2012’s Skyfall

But as producer Michael G. Wilson stated above, 3D conversions have indeed had a checkered history. The recent era of 3D moviegoing seemed to boom James Cameron’s Avatar was released in 2009, which led to a glut of conversions that would range from eye-popping to price gouging versions. In the latter camp, the conversion Clash of the Titans saw released in 2010 still ranks as one of the most infamous examples, so you could see why the powers that be would have held off.

If Michael G. Wilson and co-producer/half-sister Barbara Broccoli really wanted to, they could have had every Daniel Craig film released in 3D, as 2006’s Casino Royale arrived just as filmmakers like James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez were pioneering the resurgence of the format. Though that might have been a headache of a decision, as the format was still primarily running in anaglyph, which relied on the classic red/blue glasses to work. Of course, that could have been fixed by sending Daniel Craig’s James Bond films to IMAX 3D. But even in that superior format, only certain sequences tended to be shown in 3D, which required audiences to put on and remove their glasses at specific moments. Imagine having to put on or remove your glasses during pivotal moments of Skyfall. 

3D conversions are still a mixed bag in a world where we’ve seen them sort of slip in favor; so there’s never really been a “right time” to get James Bond into 3D. Whatever tests No Time To Die underwent, they were impressive enough for Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to sign off on a full conversion effort. The finished result backs that call quite confidently, as our most recent To 3D or Not To 3D column yielded quite a favorable review. In our discussion, both Broccoli and Wilson sang nothing but praises for the 3D version, and had some very specific notes as to why: 

Barbara Broccoli: It’s actually terrific in 3D. Michael G. Wilson: Yeah, I was amazed at how good it was. Absolutely wonderful in 3D. Broccoli: Particularly the opening title sequence is just absolutely mindblowing in 3D, with Billie [Eillish’s] song.

If there is any aspect of No Time To Die that shines as a standard bearer for 3D, it’s the opening title sequence. With iconography that symbolizes James Bond and Dr. Madeleine Swann’s tragic split, as well as the menace of Lyutsifer Safin and Project Heracles, there’s a lot to work with in that visual canvas. That’s only the beginning, as everything from dramatic monologues by Daniel Craig to action set-pieces filled with bullet casings and grenades makes maximum use of the 3D effect. 

Now, of course, there’s a question of whether or not the 007 cinematic franchise will continue to deliver 3D thrills in the era of the next James Bond. If you were to ask Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson about that subject, they’d probably tell you that they aren’t thinking about it yet. It’s absolutely a subject worth discussing at some point in the future, as the impressive effort in No Time To Die seems to prove that with a proper conversion, a Bond movie hits differently when the guns and explosions are popping out into the audience. In keeping with the ever-forward thinking nature of this series, 3D could be another way to keep James Bond fresh for future generations to come. 

No Time To Die is in theaters now, or coming soon depending on where you are in the world. Whether you haven’t seen it yet, or have gone a couple times prior, revisiting the film in 3D is highly recommended. Though should you be ready to move to the next adventure, 2021’s movie releases eagerly await your attention. 

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.