Early November usually boast a slew of high-pedigree film and this month is no exception. 2014 had two openers over $50 million, “Big Hero 6” and “Interstellar,” while 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World” did even better at $86 million, and “Skyfall” beat them all in 2012. It’s a desirable date after the normal Halloween slump and early enough to avoid big Thanksgiving openings yet still benefit from the jump in grosses over the holiday.
Thus expectations were high with two new high-end weekend openers. While the Top Ten total of $153 million is a healthy 7% ahead of last year, it does lag behind the two previous ones by a tad, a bit of a disappointment with two major new films and pent up demand from a lackluster October.
One lessen from 2015: for many franchise films, domestic grosses (with some exceptions) continue to trail foreign. We could end up with a full-year gross total that is 10% ahead of a below-average 2014, as the strong line-up ahead brings many chances to pick up the slack.
Lots of figures get tossed around, and with the Bonds going back to 1962, many are inapplicable. The apples to apples comparisons are among recent releases through Sony (MGM, the previous distributor, remains a production partner). Against that measure this Bond comes in third, behind both “Skyfall” (adjusted $91 million) and “Quantum of Solace,” the second Daniel Craig entry at $78 million, again adjusted.
But everything broke right for “Skyfall,” including much better reviews (still important for older audiences). Both “Quantum” and “Skyfall” share another major difference. Those two films didn’t face a major competitive opener. “Spectre” faced “The Peanuts Movie.” Though they might not seem to overlap, Fox reports the latter got 15% of its audience from adults without children—that’s $7 million of its business. Between those folks and some of the parents who took kids, this likely cost “Spectre” several million dollars.
The biggest point of concern though is the drop (4.5%) from Friday, compared to a first Saturday 11% jump for “Skyfall.” “Quantum” had the same second day drop. It came in ultimately at 2.5 times its opening weekend, compared to the great 3.5 performance for “Skyfall.” That if it comes true would bring this in under $200 million, compared to $304 million domestic for the 2012 release.
International is still strong (this combined is about $300 million with several major territories still to come). But at a nearly quarter billion production cost and at least another $100 million for marketing, these are numbers that though good, don’t automatically justify rationalizing a status quo for the film. That said, its slight shortfall in the U.S. seems due to factors outside of Sony’s control: the minor lag in domestic performance for many top films this year, more competition, as well as far more mixed reviews.
And Sony’s Tom Rothman is cheering Sony’s recent box office rebound, with three of the top six films this weekend.
You’re Still a Star, Charlie Brown
This is not the first time out for a “Peanuts” theatrical feature (two animated films based on the Charles Schultz comic strips were released between 1969-1972), but there has been a huge gap. Two generations of kids have grown up with much less character awareness than in the 1960s, at the cartoon strip’s peak of popularity (the movies were preceded by high rated TV specials), but 20th Century Fox managed —likely from remaining good will among older folks—to bring back the gang.
Whatever the awareness of the series, “Peanuts” is definitely not the contemporary/edgy children’s fare that is close to the juvenile zeitgeist. This film is $3 million less than the pre-Halloween “Hotel Transylvania 2” a few weeks ago. It’s 80% as good as Disney’s “Big Hero 6” the same weekend last year. The good news: its Saturday jump (62%) is better than similar 2015 non-summer animated hits “Home” and “Transylvania.”
Fox is happy that this is performing similar to their three “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies (of similar generational vintage), all of which have been December releases, all long-playing films. And like “Alvin” they performed strongly against a surefire Bond film. This makes their decision to move up the fourth “Alvin as the the only other opener against “Star Wars” even smarter.
Something strange happened against the norm this weekend. Despite two strong openers, four of the eight Top Ten holdovers managed to hold their drops under 30%. Leading the way was “The Martian,” down only 21%. Even in its sixth weekend, the movie for the first time clocked a gross ahead of “Gravity” at the same point ($9.3 million compared to $8.5 million). That’s a nice way to sustain momentum in the Oscar race, particularly with “Spotlight ” opening this weekend.
“Goosebumps” despite big competition from “Peanuts” dropped only 29%. Adult-oriented “Bridge of Spies” (like “Spectre” and “The Martian”) dropped only 27% and looks likely to play through Thanksgiving at its best theaters and compile an impressive total versus its opening weekend. And “The Intern” fell 25% to a $71 million total, jumping back into the Top Ten from #11 last week.