'Spectre' Looks to Top 'Skyfall' While 'Peanuts' Vies for a Strong Second

by Brad Brevet

November 5, 2015

Thursday Preshow Update: Spectre kicked the weekend off with Thursday preshow screenings in 3,221 theaters where it brought in $5.25 million. Comparing to Skyfall's Thursday performance is tough considering Skyfall played in only 463 IMAX and premium large format theaters on Thursday where it grossed $2.2 million. Skyfall followed that performance up with an additional $2.4 million from midnight screenings before going wide on Friday. Considering the circumstances, even though that only adds up to $4.6 million, some might say it's actually a more impressive performance given the difference in theater count.

It's tough to gain a full picture from this performance given the factors involved, but below is a chart of films to offer up a variety of comparisons.

  • Skyfall - $2.2m IMAX only Thursday & 2.4m Fri midnights / $88.3m opening
  • Straight Outta Compton - $4.9m Thursday / $60.2m opening
  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - $4m Thursday / $55.5m opening
  • 22 Jump Street - $5.5m Thursday / $57m opening
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $5m Thursday / $85m opening
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $4.7m Thursday / $90m opening
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - $4.1m Thursday / $72m opening
  • Fast Five - $3.8m Thursday / $86.1m opening
  • Furious 6 - $6.5m Thursday / $97.3m opening

Forecast: After a couple of lackluster weekends closed out October, November has a pair of new releases looking to reignite the 2015 box office fire. The newest James Bond movie, Spectre, has already broken records overseas while Fox brings the world of Charles Schultz's iconic characters to CG-animated life with The Peanuts Movie. Both films look to bring in a hefty amount of money this weekend, which will also likely carry over to a strong second weekend before The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 arrives on November 20.

Skyfall opened with $88.3 million in 2012. It was the largest opening for a James Bond film ever as it enjoyed strong reviews and a heavy marketing campaign courtesy of the franchise's 50th anniversary. Spectre can't boast the same in this regard. The hype is obviously huge, yet not on par with Skyfall and the reviews are, rightfully so, more middle of the road. Where Skyfall seemed to reinvigorate the franchise after what many perceived to be a letdown with Quantum of Solace, Spectre plays more like a so-so installment in the Bond franchise rather than a stand-out event.

The film opened in a handful of territories last week, including the UK where 007's newest adventure proved a hit. Not only did it break the 7-day record set by Skyfall, but it topped Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the biggest UK opening of all-time with £41.7M ($63.8m USD). I don't, however, expect it will be topping Skyfall domestically, neither on opening weekend, nor overall.

Crunching the numbers, I'm going just a bit under Skyfall's $88.3 million with my $82.5 million prediction, essentially calling this the Age of Ultron to Skyfall's Avengers. I was actually in the $79 million range when I thought Spectre was only going to play in 3,600 theaters or so, but the final theater count came to a massive 3,929, 424 more than Skyfall opened in.

Another item factoring into my Spectre prediction is The Peanuts Movie. While Peanuts doesn't serve as direct competition, it's possible families may opt to take their kids to the new animated film on opening weekend and reserve their trip to see James Bond for another night. After all, Wreck-It Ralph made $33 million alongside Skyfall last year, and that was in its second weekend.

So how well will The Peanuts Movie do opposite Spectre? Continuing the Wreck-It Ralph comparison, that film did $49 million in its opening weekend, banking hard on not only the Disney brand, but some classic video game characters as well. When it comes to Peanuts, Fox has decades of brand awareness on top of the fact November seems a prime month to open a new animated film.

Over the past several years, animated features have enjoyed big November openings. These films include Megamind ($46m), Happy Feet ($41m), Chicken Little ($40m) and even the live-action/animated hybrid Scooby-Doo ($54.1m), and that's before you get into the even bigger titles. Big Hero 6 did $56.2 million just last year, before that Frozen opened with $67.3 million, The Incredibles scored $70.4 million and Monster, Inc. brought in $62.5 million. I guess the question is to wonder if the Peanuts movie satisfies a broad audience or a more nostalgic crowd.

I guess, considering Charlie Brown is the film's lead human character, one could (if we absolutely must) look at this as a more male-targeted feature. In that case perhaps Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are the best comparisons. Both of those films come with the Disney brand recognition, but with this being a Blue Sky production, they have the Ice Age films to their credit and last I checked those were mighty impressive at the box office. You could also say this is a film that will bank more on nostalgia than anything else, which is always a difficult factor to consider when predicting box office.

Comparative factors give us about a $46-56 million range to consider and I'm leaning a bit to the high side. Supporting a higher prediction I not only point to Big Hero 6's numbers last year, which opened in 136 fewer theaters, but also this year's ratings for the annual broadcast of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and the all-audiences-friendly "G" rating.

All told, I'm predicting a $13,350 per theater average for a $52 million opening weekend as Peanuts will play in a whopping 3,897 theaters.

Between Spectre and Peanuts alone we're looking at a combined $134+ million for the weekend, which more than doubles the take of last weekend's top twelve. In fact, this weekend's top twelve should eclipse last year's total by $20+ million. Not bad considering last weekend was the worst 2015 has had to offer yet.

Speaking of last weekend, neither of the two widest releases have yet to even top my not-so-lofty opening weekend predictions. Burnt currently sits at $6.7 million and should add another $2.6m or so to that total this weekend and Our Brand is Crisis has made a mere $4.2 million so far and should just barely eek into the top ten this weekend with another $1.5m.

On the limited side of things, Catherine Hardwicke's Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, opens in 384 theaters and Brooklyn already started its limited run on Wednesday with $28,472 from five theaters.

Led by Saoirse Ronan, I've heard nothing but great things about Brooklyn and am ashamed to say I missed it in Toronto, but am anxiously awaiting my opportunity to see what all the buzz is about. It could do great things this weekend as Fox Searchlight is hoping to position it as a major player at this year's Oscars.

I have, however, seen Spotlight and its quite good. Centering on the Boston Globe investigation into the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, Open Road will bring the film to only five theaters this weekend. It should be interesting to see how it performs given Truth's failure to catch on with audiences in both limited and wide release lately.

And finally we have Trumbo from Bleecker Street, which will also open in five theaters. Starring Bryan Cranston as the titular character, the film features an all-star cast telling the story of how the Hollywood screenwriter and several other artists found themselves jailed and blacklisted in 1947 for their political beliefs.

This weekend's predictions are below.

  • Spectre (3,929 theaters) - $82,509,000
  • The Peanuts Movie (3,897 theaters) - $52,024,950
  • The Martian (2,855 theaters) - $6,794,900
  • Goosebumps (2,051 theaters) - $5,921,237
  • Bridge of Spies (2,767 theaters) - $5,705,554
  • Hotel Transylvania 2 (2,274 theaters) - $3,224,532
  • The Last Witch Hunter (2,286 theaters) - $2,683,764
  • Burnt (3,003 theaters) - $2,600,598
  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (1,530 theaters) - $1,718,190
  • Our Brand is Crisis (2,202 theaters) - $1,554,612
  • Crimson Peak (1,123 theaters) - $1,536,264

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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