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Spectre, Peanuts revive cinemas

Published:Sunday | November 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre.


It took the combination of James Bond and Charlie Brown to save the box office after a disastrous few weekends of flops. Both Spectre and The Peanuts Movie reinvigorated moviegoers, who turned out in droves to check out the new fare, including buzzy limited-release titles like Spotlight.

Spectre took an easy first-place spot with an estimated US$73 million, according to Rentrak estimates yesterday, to become the second-biggest Bond opening of all time. The 24th film in the 53-year-old series stars Daniel Craig as the dapper spy and cost a reported US$250 million to produce.

However, Spectre failed to live up to the record-breaking standard set by Skyfall, which debuted at US$88.4 million in 2012 and went on to become the first film in the franchise to earn over US$1 billion worldwide.

"We never expected it to open to the level of Skyfall. It was a very different scenario. The competition was different, the weekend was different," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "One thing I am certain of is that the Bond franchise is as healthy and strong as ever."

Distributor Sony, which co-produced the film with Eon Productions and MGM, tried to manage expectations going into the weekend, predicting an opening in the US$60-million range. "It's still a great number," said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst. "For a franchise that's over 50 years old, it's really an astounding achievement. Bond is still compelling and exciting to audiences."

The film has been playing internationally for two weeks, breaking records in the UK. Reviews have been mixed in the US and Spectre, unlike Skyfall, had competition in its first weekend in cinemas with another beloved set of characters - Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

The Peanuts Movie provided a family-friendly alternative to James Bond's guns and martinis, taking second place with a strong US$45 million. The film cost around US$100 million to make.

Audiences, 70 per cent of whom were families, gave The Peanuts Movie a strong A CinemaScore, suggesting that word of mouth will be strong for the animated film. The cross-generational appeal was no accident for the Fox marketing team, who were looking to appeal to all ages.

"I think it's a combination of connecting with moviegoers who grew up with and were familiar with the Peanuts property, coupled with getting kids excited about and introduced to Charlie Brown and Snoopy in a big-screen way," said Chris Aronson, Fox's president of domestic distribution. "We were everywhere. That's what we thought we had to do to get through the noise of Bond to connect with moviegoers from eight to 80 years old, which I think we really were successful in doing."

Holdovers The Martian, Goosebumps and Bridge of Spies rounded out the top five. New opener Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, opened in 384 cinemas to only US$572,160.




Three possible awards contenders, Spotlight, Brooklyn and Trumbo, also made their debut in limited release to mixed results. Spotlight, director Tom McCarthy's film about the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, was the strongest of the pack, opening to US$302,276 from only five cinemas.

Brooklyn, a 1950s immigrant story starring Saoirse Ronan, took in a respectable US$181,000 from five cinemas over the weekend, after opening on Wednesday. Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston, took in US$77,229 from five cinemas.

Overall, things are looking up at the box office. The final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise opens in two weeks and Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts in just over a month.

"We certainly needed this infusion of excitement into a marketplace that has been just lying there doing nothing almost for the past few weeks," Dergarabedian said. "This is good news for Hollywood to get things back on track."

Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak.

1. Spectre, US$73m

2. The Peanuts Movie, US$45m

3. The Martian, US$9.3m

4. Goosebumps, US$7m

5. Bridge of Spies, US$6.1m

6. Hotel Transylvania 2, US$3.6m

7. Burnt, US$3m

8. The Last Witch Hunter, US$2.7m

9. The Intern, US$1.8m

10. Paranormal Activity, US$1.7m