After several painfully slow weekends of talking about nothing more than The Martian, two big releases hit theaters on a typically very strong weekend. The first is Spectre, the new James Bond film and the direct sequel to Skyfall. The second is The Peanuts Movie, a big budget adaptation of the highly beloved comic strip.
Spectre arrives just three years after Skyfall, a film that largely rebooted the series into a slick, modern and very well marketed spy thriller. As a result, it saw some serious box office boosts. It opened over $20M higher than Quantum of Solace and had a worldwide gross of $1.1B, nearly double that of its predecessor. As a result of franchises peaking, Spectre will likely see decently smaller grosses for a number of reasons; the first of which is that its reviews are not nearly as good. Currently, the film is sitting at a mediocre 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, a full 31% off of Skyfall. That’s pretty startlingly close to a rotten score, which is fairly surprising as it seemed like it would be at 80% or more. Reviews largely criticize the films repetitious nature and over reliance on the same formula, something that very much comes off in the advertising. Despite this, adult audiences haven’t had much recently, and the Bond franchise is still one of the strongest in use right now. A good comparison for this film is Star Trek Into Darkness, and in turn, Skyfall is a good comparison to Star Trek. They were both big budget, well received, slick and modern adaptations of long running franchises that saw a new start, and quickly put out a sequel that looked very similar to its predecessor with a larger budget. At first, expectations thought it would gross more in its opening weekend, but in reality will probably see a decent drop off. Look for Spectre to open in the high $70M range.
The Peanuts Movie could end up being one of the biggest surprises of the year thanks to strong reviews, great brand recognition, and some of the most effective viral marketing in the form of its ‘Peanutize Me’ Facebook app. The Peanuts brand is one of the most easily recognizable in the world, with countless pieces of merchandise and some of the most famous Holiday specials of all time. As a result, Peanuts is somewhat unique in that it is probably going to appeal more to the parents than to kids, but since parents are the once who ultimately make the ticket buying decision will probably show up in droves for this. The film has a $100M budget, pretty much in line with previous Blue Sky outings such as Rio 2 and Ice Age 4. Reviews should also help, with an 84% score on Rotten Tomatoes. One worry is that the film may not appeal to kids as much as many other films, with its more melancholy, slow style striking in contrast against much more frantic and silly kids films such as Inside Out or the ever so popular Despicable Me films. The film has been marketed in just about every facet imaginable, the question is just how high it can get. Among films that opened on or around this weekend, Wreck-it Ralph opened to $49M, Big Hero 6 did $56M and Megamind did $46M. With its brand recognition, Peanuts has a serious chance at pushing the $60M mark.
In limited release, Spotlight and Trumbo open in 5 theaters each and should see strong per theater averages thanks to great reviews and early buzz. Of the two, Spotlight will probably do better in limited release while Trumbo is likely going to play well with mainstream audiences. Brooklyn also opened on Wednesday in 5 theaters, but over the weekend will likely have the best per theater average of the three. Its fantastic 98% Rotten Tomatoes score and excellent early buzz may make it a surprise art-house hit.
- Spectre – $81M
- The Peanuts Movie – $61M
- The Martian – $7.8M
- Bridge of Spies – $6.2M
- Goosebumps – $5.0M
Bar for Success
Considering its predecessor did $90M including Thursday shows (which are now commonplace and are simply added to weekend gross), Spectre is in somewhat dire shape if it’s any lower than $75M this weekend. That would mean a rather alarming 17% drop off, but if it can top that it gets a pass. $80M, however, and it’s in very good shape. However, the real story for Spectre comes from overseas, where its bound to make more than 70% or more of its total gross. With excellent brand recognition and a lack of competition, The Peanuts Movie would be in great shape at $50M.