Box Office: ‘Spectre’ Needs to Make $650 Million to Break Even

Spectre James Bond
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures

Spectre” is one of the most expensive movies ever made, and while the 24th film in the James Bond series is off to a sizzling start in parts of Europe, it needs to be a massive box office hit in order to turn a profit.

With a price tag of $250 million, plus more than $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, industry executives predict that the picture will have to do $650 million to break even. That’s because “Spectre’s” backers, a group that includes Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and Eon Productions, will have to split revenues with exhibitors. Fewer than 90 films have ever achieved that gross globally and only one other Bond film, “Skyfall,” has ever surpassed that mark.

Of course, there are other ancillary sources of income, including television deals and home entertainment sales, that would cushion the blow should “Spectre” fall short of that lofty figure.

As it stands, most analysts predict that “Spectre” will post robust numbers when it debuts in roughly 3,972 domestic locations and over 60 foreign markets this week. It is expected to do $80 million stateside and top the box office. Sony, which is distributing the film, is being more conservative and pegging the figure at the mid-$60 million range.

That would likely fall short of the $88.4 million debut of the previous film in the series, “Skyfall.” However, that picture was the only new wide release during its first weekend in theaters. “Spectre” faces intense competition from Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie.” The adaptation of the popular Charles Shultz comic strip is on pace to open in the mid-$40 million range when it kicks off across 3,890 locations. It cost roughly $100 million to produce. Nostalgia for all things Snoopy seems to be greater than it was for other older brands, such as “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and “The Lone Ranger,” that were revived for a new generation without success.

The strength of the two new films should goose ticket sales after a bruising period for multiplexes. That should have theater owners breathing a sigh of relief. New releases like “Steve Jobs,” “Pan,” and “Our Brand is Crisis” have all flopped in recent weeks and the box office hit its lowest levels all year over Halloween weekend.

Globally, “Spectre” has some big shoes to fill. “Skyfall” was the 13th highest grossing film in history, the most successful Bond film ever, and the first in the series to gross more than $1 billion. In order to match that result, the film will have to do big business when it opens next week in China. “Skyfall” did nearly $60 million in the People’s Republic, but many observers believe “Spectre” will trump that figure given that the country has substantially increased its network of theaters in the three years since the last Bond picture opened.

Not every development in the foreign market is working in “Spectre’s” favor. A weaker exchange rate in Europe and Russia could cut into its foreign result. Major blockbusters like “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” got burned by dips in values of local currency in those areas and the collapse of the Russian ruble. The fantasy adventure made less money than other films in the series even though it had higher admissions.

It’s a time of transition for the 007 series. Star Daniel Craig has hinted that he may not return to the role that made him famous and the distribution rights to the series are in play. Sony has overseen the roll out for the past four films in the series, but its deal ends with “Spectre.” It is expected to make an offer to retain them, but bidding is expected to be intense, with other studios like Warner Bros. in the mix. Whoever wins the prize will be more interested in the prestige that the series brings than they will be fixated on the profits. Sony made less than $60 million for pushing “Skyfall” out around the world. There is a halo effect to these pictures that makes them valuable, insiders say. Distributing the films strengthens partnerships with brands and exhibitors.

Charle Brown and James Bond will carve up most of the box office this weekend, but there are a number of Oscar contenders debuting in limited release. Fox Searchlight will bow the immigrant romance “Brooklyn,” Open Road has the newspaper love letter “Spotlight,” and Bleecker Street is fielding the Hollywood drama “Trumbo.”

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  1. Rob says:

    That Sam Smith garbage whiny song was a bad omen.

  2. Pat says:

    650 million to break even ? Ridiculous !

  3. Gino50 says:

    I believe the article calculations aren’t correct – the film will need to make $950,000,000 to break even! From every dollar revenue, exhibitors take 50%, than distributors charge around 30% distribution fees, than overhead and interest of the money… so, from every dollar there is only approximately 15% to 20% that goes towards the cost of marketing and cost of making the film… together $350,000,000…. you do the math!

    • therealeverton says:

      No I’m afraid your film economics are way off. You average the cinema takings to 50% and that accounts for the differences in various countries and sales. But the Distribution fee (unless there is some other “extra” arrangement, that’s all part of P& A. and factored into the total cost of the film.

      Even without the millions of dollars companies have thrown at the Bond films for product placements and associations the film will take approximately half of its non-China box office home.

      The fact is that a major part of the budgets for these films are covered before they even come out.

      Don’t believe me, for Skyfall, Heiniken paid over $40m for their product placement. that was based on a series of films looking at $600m worldwide. After Skyfall made $1.1b you think the asking price went down?

  4. Dan Sheffer says:

    “Intense competition from Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie.” Really?? I don’t think it will compete for the same audience at all.

    • therealeverton says:

      It’s simple logic. There’s a tiny part of the audience for these films that is targeted separately.Young children for the Peanuts film aren’t the audience for Spectre, but that’s it. IF Peanuts is aimed at everyone, and it is then either Spectre is for nobody, or there is audience crossover. Similarly, f Spectre is for older kids, teens, men, women, and Bond fans from 8 to 90 then the entire audience for Spectre is also the audience for Peanuts. Sure SOME people will only want to see one or the other, but the crossover is huge. even if it were only parents wanting to see Spectre, but “having” to take kids to Peanuts, there will be a lot of crossover.

  5. Jedi77 says:

    This really is an article for the sake of the article.
    No one in their right mind expect SPECTRE to make less than $900 million, probably a billion dollars.

    It broke records everywhere last weekend, despite mediocre reviews, and word of mouth is nothing short of spectacular.
    If anything, spending the $250-300 million on this film is the safest bet in moviefinancing right now.

  6. Jimbo says:

    I think Charlie Brown playing James Bond in Bond 25 would probably make more money than Avatar!

  7. LeBoeuf says:

    $100 million in marketing and promotion costs? How do you blow 100 million on marketing a movie that everyone wants to go see even if it wasn’t marketed?

  8. TM says:

    Anyone who is aware of the hacked Sony emails knows that the budget of SPECTRE was over $300mil. The editors of Variety should make an effort to be accurate with their information if they want to make details like that a feature of their coverage.

    • David Billa says:

      Hi due to cut down on costs and tax rebates from various countries made this Bond to spend only mediocre $ 240 million in production.

  9. Dunstan says:

    The only people who should be discussing box office, present or future, are those involved with the film or films. It’s of no concern to anyone else and isn’t a contest between movie a or movie b.

    • Rob says:

      Thank you Herr Dunstan.

    • therealeverton says:

      Not sure where you get that idea from at all. People can be interested in the business side of the industry…People can, perhaps should, be interested in ALL aspects of the industry. Future producers may be reading. It isn’t a contest, it is a case of a film needs to make a profit to be successful. It is of interest too many…If you happen to like/love Bond films then you are interested in how ell this does as it directly affects the future of the series.

  10. therealeverton says:

    This again totally disregards the ,millions of dollars Spectre has already made from all of the businesses who fall over themselves to get any kind of product placement / association with a Bond film.

  11. Brownies says:

    It will open big, but given the marginal reviews I don’t expect it to have very long legs. After Skyfall I think people wil actually expect a good movie

  12. Adam says:

    I think SPECTRE will make between 900m-1 billion in the global box office.

    • Randy says:

      I think SPECTRE will make more money then SKYFALL did and make over a Billion Dollers world wide and i also think that Actor Daniel Craig will be back again playing 007 in his 5th and last 007 movie playing Bond…..James Bond

  13. MattW says:

    There’s almost no way spectre comes in under $800m world wide. Even with lower exchange rates than in 2012 it’s not gonna drop 300m in revenue.

    Domestic market will lose about 100m, the uk about 50m, other European markets another 50-100m. But it should see healthy growth in china and Mexico to mitigate that, and a few other growth markets could post healthy increases as well. I’m expecting something around $900m.

  14. Adam says:

    Huh? How will SPECTRE face intense competition from the Peanuts movie?? Both films are catering to two completely different audiences.

    • therealeverton says:

      I never get comments like this. A James Bond film is aimed at everyone, with the exception of very young children. All countries, all ages, both sexes etc. Snoopy is aimed at EVERYONE fill stop. Kids, people who grew up with Snoopy. So there’s 1 film aimed at everyone ad another aimed at almost everyone, of course there’s a crossover.

    • True…..but in respect to the opening weekend only………it will be the case of whether the parents take their kids to see ‘Peanuts’, or instead go to see ‘Spectre’ on their own!

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