JAMES Bond has successfully completed all kinds of seemingly impossible missions in the decades since his adventures first appeared in film.

It is safe to say cinema-goers can expect more of the same when No Time to Die finally drops this week, following three delays to its UK release because of the pandemic. But the film – Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as 007 – could well bring some much-welcome cheer to businesses in town and city centres, as well as cinema chains and fans of the (not-so) secret agent.

Plenty has been written about the very visible decline that has been seen in Scotland’s town and city centres since the pandemic took hold.

The exodus of office workers, only now beginning to reverse after 17 months of working from home, has had a devastating impact on the cafes, shops, bars and restaurants that depend on their custom for survival. In recent months, footfall in city centres looks to have been gradually picking up, but the fallout arising from the pandemic is clear from the rows of empty shops and, in some cases, the physical deterioration of urban streets.

The impact can be seen in shopping centres as well as major locations such as Princes Street in Edinburgh and Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

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East Kilbride shopping centre, for example, has been shorn of one of its biggest anchor tenants, Debenhams, the absence of which may undermine its ability to generate footfall.

It is clear that a combination of radical new ideas and the return of consumer confidence will be needed to fire the regeneration of so many town and city centres.

But there has at least been some in-depth research into the matter. A major report published earlier this year, entitled A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres, outlined a raft of recommendations to revive urban areas.

Among its more eye-catching proposals was for the creation of strategic acquisition fund to help local businesses and community groups take ownership of and develop vacant units.

The report, which was chaired by Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at the University of Stirling, highlighted the importance of bringing key service providers such as GPs, dentists, banks and care homes back to town and city centres.

If there are more reasons for people to come into urban areas then there’s a much better chance that businesses in such locations will survive. And greater football, in turn, may attract more businesses and encourage more people to consider living there. Hopefully, some of the proposals will be enacted after the Scottish Government releases its response to the report later this autumn.

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Cinemas may not be everyone’s idea of an essential service, but there is no doubt they are big footfall drivers.

The role cinemas can play in regeneration has been recognised in Paisley, where a film theatre is at the heart of a new 10-year masterplan for the Renfrewshire town.

Sovereign Centros, asset manager of the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow, has been looking to harness the power of film, too, and recently opened a nine-screen Vue cinema as part of a £40 million investment to expand retail and leisure facilities at the destination. And a 14-screen Cineworld forms the lynchpin of the leisure offer at Silverburn shopping centre on the outskirts of the city, where it feeds into a raft of popular, branded restaurants.

Of course, the cinema industry has had a torrid time during the pandemic. The enforced closure of halls during lockdown has meant that for large parts of the last year-and-a-half cinemas were unable to generate revenue while still facing huge overheads.

The pandemic has also sparked brought upheaval to the film schedule, as evidenced by the repeated delays to the release of No Time to Die, which was originally due to hit UK screens in March 2020.

Now, thanks in large part to the successful rollout of vaccines and the easing of restrictions, cinemas are open again and able to take advantage of big blockbusters which are finally being released. Marvel is currently smashing box office records across the Atlantic with its latest release, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and expectations are sky-high here in the UK for No Time to Die, which opens on Thursday.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 2 on Friday, Daniel Craig emphasised how important it was that the film’s producers had “held their nerve” and ensured it could receive a theatrical release, instead of debuting the movie on one of the big streaming services as others have controversially done. “I’m just ecstatic that we are here, I really am,” Craig told Zoe Ball.

“I couldn’t be happier [with] the fact we have actually managed to get this far and that Universal and MGM have held their nerve and we are going to get it in the cinemas, as opposed to it going on a streaming service.”

With the film costing hundreds of millions of pounds to make, the Bond producers need to realise a return on that investment, which presumably is easier to do from packed theatres than from streaming.

The cinemas urgently need to fill their halls, too, after such a bruising year-and-a-half. If there was any doubting the importance of Bond to the industry, just look at the surge in the share price of Cineworld, which surged nearly 12% yesterday in anticipation of the film’s release later this week.

There is no question that many fans would prefer the full big-screen experience when seeing Craig’s last outing as Bond.

The benefit that a Bond release can have on businesses surrounding multiplexes in malls and city centres can be huge, too.

For fans of the world’s most-famous assassin, the launch of a new film in the series is no ordinary release. A new Bond film is a huge event and one that people will flock to in their droves. And it does not take a major leap of the imagination to assume that cinema-goers will make a day or evening out of the occasion, and perhaps have a meal in a bar or restaurant near the theatre.

It is traditionally an event that draws people out of their homes in big numbers, and for some it may be their first trip back to the cinema since the pandemic started.

The timing of the release is helpful, too, with the October mid-term school holidays not far away.

James Bond may not be able to single-handedly save the high street, but he’ll certainly give it a welcome boost in the short term.