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Box Office: ‘Spectre’ Could Trigger $80 Million in U.S. Debut

If “Spectre” is indeed Daniel Craig’s swan song as James Bond, then the man who injected a dangerous swagger into the long-running spy series is going out at the top of his game.

The film is on pace to make $80 million when it debuts in the U.S. next weekend in roughly 3,500 theaters, according to industry tracking. And that’s just a fraction of the riches that that distributor Sony and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be raking in. A massive global launch is being planned that will see “Spectre” kick off in more than 60 foreign markets, including much of Latin America, Asia, and Europe.  It opens in China the following week.

The film has already been shattering records in the U.K., picking up $24.5 million in its first two days, and scoring the biggest Tuesday and Wednesday results in history.

“It’s phenomenal,”said Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief. “That’s ground zero for Bond, and the results are stunning.”

On the stateside front, Sony is being more conservative, with sources saying the studio would be happy with an opening in the mid-$60 million range. That would trail the $88.4 million debut of the previous entry in the series, 2012’s “Skyfall,” but that picture had its opening weekend largely to itself, with no other major wide releases. In contrast, “Spectre” goes head to head with Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie,” which is tracking to do $40 million or more. The competition could cut into “Spectre’s” opening haul.

“Skyfall” set a high bar for “Spectre.” It was the highest-grossing 007 film in history, nearly doubling “Casino Royale’s” $599 million worldwide haul, and the first in franchise history to cross $1 billion. But some analysts think the latest Bond could end up with a similar bounty, noting that markets like China, where “Skyfall” did nearly $60 million, have added more screens and grown in strength in the ensuing three years.

“There’s been a lot of global growth since “Skyfall’ came out that it should end up doing something similar,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Domestically, we’ll see. Thanksgiving is very strong.”

Indeed, the coming weeks bring the Rocky series spin-off “Creed,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” and Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur.” And the Christmas holiday brings “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However, reviews for “Spectre” have been solid and Sony thinks the picture will show some endurance. At a cost of $250 million, no expense was shared in making the picture, and the producers decided not to muck around with a winning formula, bringing back “Skyfall” director Sam Mendes for another stint behind the camera.

“We see this playing for a long, long time,” said Bruer. “All the Bond films played through the holidays.”

“People will love this film,” he added. “It brings the Daniel Craig Bond films together in a very satisfying, poignant fashion.”

The future of Bond remains murkier. Sony is closing out its distribution pact for the franchise, and it’s not clear if MGM will sign up for another round or will find a different studio partner. Warner Bros. is believed to be making an aggressive play for the series.

Then there’s Craig’s tenure as the super-spy. In an interview with TimeOut, the actor has implied he’s done with the role, saying he would rather slash his wrists than do another sequel. That’s led to heated debate about who should pick up Bond’s Walther PPK.

Ultimately, the attention is good for the series, whether or not Craig stays on board, analysts say.

“People like having a new Bond every four or five films,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “It allows you to see James Bond in a new manner and it keeps the franchise fresh and alive.”

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