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

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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