Industry sources are projecting that Sony/MGM’s 24th James Bond title Spectre is on track to make $75 million-$80 million stateside, a figure that’s less than the previous installment’s $90.6M opening, Skyfall, which included Thursday previews. Any distributor would relish Spectre‘s lower opening, though some are low-balling the debut on the Sam Mendes-directed film due to a minor case of sequelitis in the wake of that previous Bond, which not only posted the highest opening of all time for a 007 film, but also is the highest-grossing title in the franchise at $304.4M domestic and $1.1B worldwide. 

When Skyfall opened in November 2012 it was getting a huge PR boost from the fact it was the 50th anniversary of the Ian Fleming franchise. In addition, a studio couldn’t ask for a better global stunt with Daniel Craig double parachuting out of a helicopter during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies in London.

Exhibitors haven’t seen Spectre yet — they’ll do so next Wednesday. However the anticipation is high for its opening potential.

Tracking is strong for Spectre among males over 25. Total awareness is at 74% versus Skyfall‘s 79%, definite interest is at 64% compared with Skyfall‘s 57%, with first choice lower at 18% to 21%. Any time a film is over 55% in definite choice or total awareness tracking, that’s huge. Spectre won’t be in 3D, but will reap spikes from its play in Imax and PLF hubs.

Since Sony took over the Bond franchise distribution from MGM, the studio has been keen about generating solid word of mouth by debuting the film in the UK prior to the U.S. Sony started doing this with Quantum Of Solace and then again with Skyfall. Spectre starts its previews in the UK on Monday.