While it has felt like the floor has dropped out of the box office over the last two weekends with a deluge of bombs, along comes Mr. Bond to patch everything up — and he’s bringing the Peanuts gang in tow to help out.
Spectre, the 24th James Bond title from Sony/MGM/Eon, is on set to pull in $70 million-$75 million per industry estimates at a current theater count of 3,927 — the widest ever for 007. That would make it the second-biggest opening stateside for the franchise after Skyfall, which posted records all around with the best debut of all time ($88.4M), best domestic haul ($304.4M) and best global take ($1.1B). Sony is being more cautious, citing grosses in the mid-$60M range, closer to Quantum Of Solace‘s $67.5M, but the town truly believes it will land much higher.
Previews kick off in 3,000-plus venues on Thursday at 7 PM, with Spectre backed by such exhib gadgets as 373 Imax hubs and 400-plus PLF screens. Spectre will own all those large-screen engagements until Katniss arrives for her final bow with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 on November 20.
Spectre‘s opening will be the best Sony has seen post-hack, and the second best since last year’s debut for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91.6M). At stake for Sony and Bond, which carries a production cost that’s 25% higher than Skyfall at $245M and a TV spot ad spend of $19M (per iSpotTV), is whether the franchise stays at the Culver City lot. This is the last 007 title under Sony’s distribution deal as a bidding war among the majors looms for the rights. How well Specture legs out around the world will only assist 007 rights keepers — MGM chief Gary Barber and Danjaq producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli — in their leverage. Already, Spectre has bagged $80.4M in six territories including the UK, where it has shattered opening records.
Rival distrib chiefs attribute the lower sequel opening stateside for Spectre to sequelitis, which can haunt these tentpoles when so much anticipation is placed upon them (read Avengers: Age Of Ultron coming up with a $191.3M opening, just short of its predecessor Avengers’ then-all time opening record of $207.4M before Jurassic World stomped on that figure). But also slowing Spectre per a non-Sony distribution executive are reviews: the pic carries a 66% fresh which is in sync with Quantum Of Solace‘s rating, compared to Skyfall‘s 93% certified fresh and Casino Royale‘s 95% fresh.
However, per some Sony insiders, The Peanuts Movie is apt to bite into Spectre‘s ticket sales. The Blue Sky animation film from 20th Century Fox is on course to gross $40M (some even believe much higher) at an estimated 3,890 screens, drawing in families as a whole given its nostalgic appeal. Essentially, Peanuts could nab the adults that Spectre wants. Peanuts will play in 3D and there won’t be any Thursday night previews. Skyfall opened unopposed back in 2012.
The title Spectre refers to the evil organization introduced in the Ian Fleming novel (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). The diabolical club made its debut in the Dr. No film then heavily again in Thunderball with brief references throughout the 007 canon.
Like previous Bond titles, even the Pierce Brosnan ones during the MGM reign, Sony has pulled out all the stops on marketing, promo partners and tie-ins. Similar to Skyfall, they hooked up with Heineken featuring an ad starring Craig and the film’s Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman. There’s also a deal with Belvedere vodka. The film has partnered with UK tourism org VisitBritain which has billboards plastered around Los Angeles encouraging folks to come to the UK — because it’s the land of Bond. Among cars, there’s an appearance by Aston Martin, which marks the 12th time that Bond has driven the car on screen. The automaker worked closely with Eon Production when designing the DB10 for Spectre. A line-up of Land Rover vehicles, including the Range Rover Sport SVR and Defender, which have been provided by Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, will feature in Spectre, the 24th James Bond adventure. Jaguar’s C-X75 also co-stars in the film. On the Sony products end, they’re pushing out Spectre Moneypenny actress Naomie Harris in spots for the Sony RX100 IV slow-mo surveillance camera and the Xperia Z5 smartphone The list goes on…
20th Century Fox has also trumped up a bulk of advance buzz for Peanuts. During the Cannes Film Festival in May, fans stopped to take their picture with the Peanuts characters outside the Carlton Hotel in a movie-theater like set-up. Fox’s ‘Peanut-ize’ Internet meme where fans could create Peanut versions of themselves and spread them around social media has been a rousing success. The studio hosted a blown up Snoopy house at San Diego’s ComicCon back in July. Yesterday, Snoopy got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On Halloween, the Today hosts dressed up as Peanuts characters and showed off an exclusive clip.
Fox’s champ The Martian, which has ruled No. 1 for four out of its five weekends, will have the gas leaked out of its jets due to the presence of Peanuts and Bond with an estimated sixth sesh of $6.5M. Through yesterday, Martian has made $184.3M and it will become Ridley Scott’s highest grossing film of all-time at the domestic B.O. on Friday, beating 200o’s Gladiator ($187.7M).
Opening on the specialty side are three prolific awards contenders. Open Road/Participant’s Spotlight about the Boston Globe’s investigation of the city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese and its cover-up of the priest molestation scandal will open in five theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Fox Searchlight is also going out with Irish immigration story Brooklyn in New York at MC Lincoln Square, Cinema 1, Regal Union Square and in L.A. at the Landmark on Pico and the Arclight Hollywood. Bleecker Street has the biopic Trumbo from director Jay Roach about the famed Hollywood black-listed screenwriter at the AMC Lincoln Square and Village 7 in NYC and the Arclight, Landmark and AMC Century City in Los Angeles.