The domestic box office is back in a big way with James Bond’s “Spectre” heading for as much as $80 million for its opening weekend and “The Peanuts Movie” pegged for at least $45 million, according to early estimates Friday.
The duo is showing plenty of drawing power and could lift the weekend past $170 million overall. That’s a tonic to the industry following a dismal two-week stretch that was lowlighted by half a dozen wide-release films flopping, including “Steve Jobs,” “Burnt,” “Our Brand is Crisis” and “The Last Witch Hunter.”
“Spectre” is headed for an opening day of at least $30 million at 3,929 domestic locations, including $5.25 million from Thursday night previews. Sony, which is distributing the film, continues to be far more conservative and pegs the weekend figure in the $70 million range.
“The industry could not have asked for a better box office one-two punch this weekend than James Bond and Brown, Charlie Brown,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak.
“These two iconic characters and brands have been in the public consciousness for at least 50 years each and will — at least in a spiritual way — signal the unofficial start of the holiday moviegoing season,” he added. “After suffering through a short-term malaise at the box office for the past at least couple of weeks, these two very different films will infuse the marketplace with some much-needed excitement and as perfectly complementary releases will generate a ton of excitement at the multiplex this weekend.”
The opening weekend of the 24th Bond pic will likely fall short of the $88.4 million debut of its immediate predecessor “Skyfall,” which benefited from being the only new wide release during its first weekend in theaters in 2012. “Skyfall” was by far the top performer in franchise history with $304 million domestically and $804 million internationally.
“Spectre” carries 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 worldwide to break even.
“Spectre,” produced by Sony, MGM and EON, is the fourth Bond movie with Daniel Craig starring as 007. It’s launching in 60 international markets this weekend after grossing $63 million in its first week in the U.K.
“The Peanuts Movie” didn’t screen Thursday night previews. The adaptation of the popular Charles Shultz comic strip is on pace to open with $14 million at 3,987 sites on Friday as it heads for the mid-$40 million range — though some early estimates pegged it as well above $50 million, suggesting that it could match the $56 million opening weekend a year ago for Disney’s “Big Hero 6.”
That weekend set a record for the first frame of November with $157 million.
The 3D animated movie, directed by Steve Martino, is the first feature-length Peanuts movie based on the iconic Peanuts characters and coincides with the 65th anniversary of the strip.