While the latest James Bond pic doesn’t open Stateside — or in major international rollout — for another two weeks, look for Sony/MGM’s Spectre to loom large over the UK next week. The 24th movie in the 007 franchise is set to kick off its first paid previews Monday as it simultaneously world premieres at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This Bond, again starring Daniel Craig, has big shoes to fill given 2012’s Skyfall set the UK box office ablaze with a £20.1M ($32.4M at the time) opening weekend and a £103M ($162M) final cume. It went on to gross $804M internationally and $1.1B worldwide, making it the biggest Bond film ever. This one is not expected to reach quite those sky-high heights. Here’s why:
With the UK 007’s top ex-U.S. market, industry watchers are keeping a keen eye on Spectre‘s opening which could impact play elsewhere — it’s currently pacing behind Skyfall Stateside. Sources expect that Spectre will land in the high $20s to about $30M in Britain next weekend, coming close to but falling short of Skyfall. However, with Spectre‘s four days of previews, that number climbs to around $55M. Those previews strategically hit while UK kids are on school vacations (it’s rated a 12A, equivalent to a PG-13) and they are expected to show up.
Working in Spectre‘s favor, it will have more plays. Skyfall had just the FSS to make its first frame mark at 587 locations; Spectre will be in a minimum of 647 cinemas on 2,300 screens. That includes 40 IMAX as of Monday, compared to Skyfall‘s 21 on a Friday, which will be a boost. Pre-sales have been strong across the board, although Craig made some pretty incendiary comments recently about being done with Bond, and that could slightly end up biting box office in the butt.
A comp here according to one analyst is Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, which similarly opened in previews on a Monday during school vacations at the end of May 2004. Harry clearly skews younger, but in terms of brand awareness and inherent British-ness, it’s a fair UK rollout mirror. That film made 60% of its first-frame gross over the weekdays, dipping slightly at the weekend which is what some are expecting here.
Comping to Skyfall, it’s important to recall that film’s charmed ride and factor in currency fluctuations since 2012. Skyfall bowed after what essentially amounted to a British summer of love that included the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics which saw “Bond” himself escorting “the queen” on a parachute jump into the Opening Ceremony. Such was the Union Jack fervor that year you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was 1966 all over again.
If the UK opening does drop, it would be a reversal. Each Bond film since Craig joined the franchise has outgrossed the last on opening in local currency in the UK. Casino Royale was dealt £13.4M in 2006, Quantum Of Solace made £15.4M in 2008, and that was followed by Skyfall and its £20.1M. Execs are confident but realistic on Spectre‘s UK potential.
As for competition, there’s not much else in the market to elbow in on Bond’s martini time. In the somewhat similar demo, The Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension already opened this Wednesday and will have the weekend to play. The Martian is moving into its fourth week; and animated winners continuing to run skew to younger viewers.
Other titles, save for adult counterprogrammers like awards-season hopefuls Suffragette, Burnt and Steve Jobs, have gotten out of the way of the new Aston Martin DB10 over the next few weeks. Skyfall contended well with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 in late November 2012 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in mid-December, still playing through the end of the year.
Spectre will have slightly more competition down the road: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 bows November 19 and 007 then faces the reawakening of Star Wars on December 17. Watchers are expecting Spectre to come close to Skyfall‘s local £103M but not quite get there.
As for the rest of the world, every Bond film is an event, but Skyfall‘s heightened global anticipation also came because it was the 50th anniversary of the film franchise. Spectre has heat — and very positive reviews — but that drop in currency values against the greenback could ding it internationally as could running time. At 148 minutes, it’s the longest of the series.
Spectre starts the rest of its rollout on November 4, opening day-and-date with the U.S. in about 45 markets. Early projections for the first weekend are hovering around $150M-$160M internationally, but we’ll take a closer look after the UK numbers are clocked. By the end of that November 6 weekend, Bond will be seducing folks in key markets like Russia, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Mexico.
The latter is particularly important. The opening sequence for Spectre was shot in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead parade and by accounts is one of the finest set-pieces in the whole pic. In a nice dovetail, the premiere for the Americas is to be held November 2 during this year’s Day of the Dead festivities.