It would be understandable if the makers and distributor of the 007 film Spectre felt under appreciated after it replaced last week’s empty theaters with crowds. Spectre racked up nearly $300 million in global ticket sales — only to receive lukewarm press because it fell $20M short of the $90.6M domestic opening B.O. haul of 2012’s Skyfall, the 13th highest grossing film of all time at $1.1 billion. Indeed, any other movie but James Bond would be drawing raves from box office pundits like myself for plotting a course that likely will lead it to $900M at the worldwide box office, or close to it.
But that’s part and parcel of the ultra-high creative and financial expectations that the go with 007. It’s a high-stakes property, but whenever you compare a franchise title against one of its previous glories, you’re always going to come up short. As Spectre director Sam Mendes told Deadline last week: “Everyone has an opinion about Bond, so there’s no conceivable way of pleasing everybody. The job that you have is to cut out the white noise and make the movie you want to see and you must not compromise that.”
There is some truth in that, even when evaluating a performance that is under more of a white-hot light than usual because Sony’s deal is up, and Warner Bros and every other studio would love to be 007’s new home. All of them want to be sure that they’ll make money.
That has been part of every conversation I’ve had on the movie’s performance, and it is a relevant question: With a combined estimated production cost and global P&A upward of $350M, how much will Spectre need to gross to churn a profit? The math is fairly simple: Cut the domestic gross in half for the exhibitor split, the studio retains 40% of the overseas B.O., another 25% from China receipts that will kick in next weekend, and estimate the value of the ancillaries. Then place that up against the considerable budget and P&A spend. Unless it veers off track, the Bond picture is going to make money for MGM and its producer/rights holders and less for Sony Pictures, even though the studio co-financed the picture.
Now, the question will be how profitable will the picture be? Many see domestic at $250M, which would make the prospect of a $1B worldwide global haul a bullish projection. A global gross between $800M-$900M is the more reasonable end point. The expectation even per non-Sony film finance execs is that Spectre will be one of the few films to breakeven in theatrical. Even if the film hits the low end of that, it will still be the second-highest-grossing 007 title of all time, beating previous Craig titles Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum Of Solace (2008) by $200M. Should Spectre be lucky enough to clear $1B, everyone will be flush, with a rental that’s between $410M-$425M. A $900M worldwide total also gets Spectre beyond break even; if it sky-falls much lower than that, Spectre might be relying heavily on worldwide TV and home entertainment for its profit margin. Industry estimates project Spectre home entertainment revenue at $170M with another $120M in global TV rights — and that’s before counting Mendes and star Daniel Craig’s participation. MGM controls TV rights and home entertainment but distributes the latter through a deal with 20th Century Fox (they get a low distribution fee). While Sony handles the bulk of foreign theatrical, MGM has rights for Spectre in some parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Through this weekend, worldwide for Spectre stands at $293.5M, with overseas B.O. at $223.1M in 60% of all territories — that’s 4% higher ahead of Skyfall.
Sony reports that a number of territories such as the UK at $100M through two weekends remains 6% ahead of Skyfall, Mexico at $4.5M is twice the last chapter’s opening (final cume there $10M). Spectre‘s frame in Germany at $22.5M is nearly in sync with Skyfall. France, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and China are opening next weekend for Spectre, and all of them were major Skyfall markets. China, always a linchpin territory, has the potential to make as much as $100M, beating Skyfall‘s $60M, given the improved state of exhibition in the country since 2013. Bond’s legs in the Middle Kingdom are expected to get singed once Fox’s The Martian blasts in 10 days after its release date.
Nonetheless, everybody is feeling better than they did last Monday after two star-driven titles, Sandra Bullock’s Our Brand Is Crisis and Bradley Cooper’s Burnt, plunged weekend tickets sales to their lowest point this year at $74M. Spectre ($70.4M) and The Peanuts Movie ($44.2M) brought audiences back into the theaters, rallying total weekend sales to $161.4M, up 116% from the Halloween period’s doldrums and the best frame we’ve seen since July 17-19, when Ant-Man rallied all films to $194.1M.
Below are the top 20 films at the weekend box office per Rentrak theatrical:
1). Spectre (SONY), 3,929 theaters / 3-day cume: $70.4M / Per screen average: $17,919/Wk 1
2). The Peanuts Movie (FOX), 3,897 theaters /3-day cume: $44.2M /Per screen: $11,345 /Wk 1
3). The Martian (FOX), 2,855 theaters (-363) /3-day cume: $9.1M (-23%)/ Per screen: $3,178 /Total cume: $196.8M / Wk 6
4). Goosebumps (SONY), 3,051 theaters (-567) / 3-day cume: $6.8M (-31%)/ Per screen: $2,230/Total cume: $66.3M /Wk 4
5). Bridge Of Spies (DIS), 2,767 theaters (-106)/3-day cume: $5.8M (-30%)/ Per screen: $2,109 /Total cume: $54.7M /Wk 4
6). Hotel Transylvania 2 (SONY), 2,274 theaters (-688) / 3-day cume: $3.6M (-38%) / Per screen: $1,585 /Total cume: $161.3M /Wk 7
7). Burnt (TWC), 3,003 theaters (0) /3-day cume: $2.9M (-42%)/ Per screen: $961 / Total cume: $10.1M /Wk 2
8). The Last Witch Hunter (LGF), 2,286 theaters (-796) /3-day cume: $2.6M (-50%) / Per screen: $1,137 /Total cume: $23.5M /Wk 3
9). The Intern (WB), 1,071 theaters (-450) /3-day cume: $1.7M (-28%)/ Per screen: $1,623 /Total cume: $71.3M/ Wk 7
10). Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (PAR), 1,087 theaters (-443) / /3-day cume: $1.6M (-52%)/ Per screen: $1,505 / Total cume: $16.3M / Wk 3
11). Our Brand Is Crisis (WB), 2,202 theaters (0)/3-day cume: $1.4M (-56%)/ Per screen: $647 /Total cume: $5.9M /Wk 2
12). Crimson Peak (UNI), 1,131 theaters (-981)/ 3-day cume: $1.2M (-62%) / Per screen: $1,030 /Total cume: 29.8M /Wk 4
13). Woodlawn (PURE), 922 theaters (-333)/ 3-day cume: $1.1M (-35%) / Per screen: $1,224 /Total cume: 12.5M /Wk 4
14). Sicario (LGF), 722 theaters (-351)/ 3-day cume: $1.05M (-39%) / Per screen: $1,455 /Total cume: $43.9M /Wk 8
15). Steve Jobs (UNI), 421 theaters (-2,072)/ 3-day cume: $798K (-70%)/ Per screen: $1,895 /Total cume: $16.7M/Wk 5
16). Suffragette (FOC), 222 theaters (+199)/3-day cume: $765K (+346%)/ Per screen: $3,445 /Total cume: $1.1M /Wk 3
17). Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (PAR), 1,151 theaters (-358)/ 3-day cume: $626K (-66%) / Per screen: $544 /Total cume: $3.1M /Wk 2
18). Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (FOX), 441 theaters (-230)/ 3-day cume: $589K (-27%) / Per screen: $1,337 /Total cume: $79.8M /Wk 8
19). Pan (WB), 508 theaters (-650)/ 3-day cume: $571K (-53%) / Per screen: $1,125 /Total cume: $32.9M /Wk 5
20). Miss You Already (RSA), 384 theaters /3-day cume: $553K / Per screen: $1,439 /Wk 1
Spotlight (OPRD), 5 theaters /3-day cume: $295K / Per screen: $59,002 /Wk 1
Brooklyn (FSL), 5 theaters /3-day cume: $187K / Per screen: $36,456 /Total cume: $244K /Wk 1
The Man In 3B (FREE), 36 theaters /3-day cume: $109K / Per screen: $3,029 /Wk 1
Trumbo (BST), 5 theaters /3-day cume: $74K /Per screen: $14,835 / Wk 1
Theeb (FM), 4 theaters /3-day cume: $9K /Per screen: $2,295 / Wk 1
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (OP), 2 theaters /3-day cume: $8K /Per screen: $4,066 / Wk 1
In The Basement (STRAND), 1 theaters /3-day cume: $748/ Wk 1