ComingSoon.net’s The Weekend Warrior looks at the movies opening on Friday, November 6, including SPECTRE and The Peanuts Movie
It’s November and finally, after a month of some of the worst box office doom and gloom we’ve seen in many years, we get a couple of movies that are sure to find an audience, mainly because they’re movies people want to see… presumably. One of them is the continuation of the venerable James Bond 007 series that’s been around for over fifty years, while the other brings a series of cartoon and comic characters who have been around even longer to the big screen in their first computer-animated feature film.
Distributor: Sony Pictures/MGM
Coming off the enormous success of 2012’s Skyfall, which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise in style with its most successful film yet, Daniel Craig is back as Bond for his fourth outing which will presumably end his run… or start a new chapter… or honestly, who knows anymore?
The most important thing to consider is that (as made evident by the title) the new Bond movie will introduce “SPECTRE,” the criminal organization that played such a large part in the Sean Connery era of James Bond that still has so many fans over all the Bonds that have come since. Movies like From Russia with Love, Thunderball, Diamonds are Forever featured the organization led by Bond’s arch-villain Ernst Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE, who may or may not be returning in the form of Christoph Waltz. (A lot of people have seen the movie already but I haven’t, nor have I talked to any of them or read the reviews, because I don’t want to be spoiled, so if you’ve seen the movie already, please don’t spoil it in the comments for others!)
It certainly looks like Daniel Craig can take credit for becoming one of the most successful Bonds in terms of box office performance, more than likely helped by Sony taking over the franchise at the same time with 2006’s Casino Royale grossing nearly $600 million worldwide. Craig’s third film Skyfall was just a huge coup for the franchise when it opened in North America with $88 million on its way to over $300 million domestic and over $1.1 billion worldwide, nearly double its predecessor Quantum of Solace. It was clear that EON Productions had successfully reached a new and presumably younger audience by making the James Bond franchise darker, grittier and more real world, getting rid of some of the sillier aspects of previous Bonds.
One might think his success as Bond would make Craig an enormous movie star although he’s only been in eight movies in the time since he became Bond, the most successful one being David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which grossed just over $100 million (as did an earlier attempt at a summer franchise, Cowboys & Aliens) but other films like the Holocaust drama Defiance and the thriller Dream House with future wife Rachel Weisz failed to make much of a mark.
Craig is obviously getting burnt out on the franchise and he’s not helping matters by saying things like that he’d rather kill himself than play Bond again. He’s making himself sound like “a right prat” as they say in England, where SPECTRE has already opened to big numbers.
There are other factors involved with a successful Bond movie and its director is one that’s been taken more seriously into consideration after Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty) helmed Skyfall and made it such a critically-revered film, one that received five Oscar nominations and won two (for Adele’s theme song and the sound editing).
There’s also the Bond Girls, which in this case includes Italian bombshell Monica Bellucci, a transplant from the “Mission: Impossible” movies in French actress Lea Seydoux, and of course Naomi Harris is back as Moneypenny. Sorely missing is Dame Judi Dench, who played such a large part in the last few movies as Bond’s handler “M.”
The villains also play a large part in the success of a Bond film with the bar being raised with Skyfall’s villain played by Javier Bardem (who many thought might at least get nominated for an Oscar). In fact, SPECTRE’s villain (who may or may not be Blofeld—seriously, I don’t want to know until I see the movie!) is played by a two-time Oscar winner in Cristoph Waltz, who seems to be born to play a Bond villain. There’s no denying that Waltz has created quite a name for himself in this country with the movies he’s done with Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, both for which he won Oscars. His most recent film, Big Eyes, directed by Tim Burton, paired him with Amy Adams but didn’t fare nearly as well over the holidays last year, grossing under $15 million.
The other new villain who hasn’t been getting nearly as much promo time is Dave Bautista as the latest giant henchman, ala Odd Job and Jaws. The former wrestler, who gained many fans for his portrayal of Drax in last year’s Marvel Studios hit Guardians of the Galaxy, will be playing a new baddie named Hinx. Will he survive SPECTRE to become a recurring Bond villain?
SPECTRE is coming at the tail end of a year full of spy movies–comedies like Kingsman and Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, serious action flicks like Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and a combination of both like Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E, which didn’t fare nearly as well as any of the others. More recently, Steven Spielberg’s real-life spy drama Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks, took a more real-world look at spies via real Cold War events and while it didn’t open big, it’s having impressive legs during an otherwise slow month.
As with previous Bond movies, it’s likely that SPECTRE will appeal more to older males (25 and up) than any other demographic, although Bond has become fairly four-quadrant due to the action and the strong female characters (like Naomie Harris getting more into the action as Moneypenny) that have replaced the previous “eye candy.”
Unlike the previous two Bond movies, which opened on their own, SPECTRE is opening against another strong family film. Some might remember that Casino Royale, Craig’s first outing as Bond, had to settle for second place behind George Miller’s Happy Feet the week it opened. The Peanuts Movie has a lot more going for it in terms of the popularity of its characters, and that alone is likely to keep SPECTRE from opening as big as Skyfall.
EON Productions and Sony decided to release the movie two weeks earlier in the UK and five other territories where the movie has been doing bigger business than Skyfall, at least so far, with $80.4 million in its first week. Unfortunately, opening the movie early internationally has allowed it to show up online where people who don’t feel like paying for movies can just download it for free, and because of this, SPECTRE is likely to be seen as another loss in the studios’ fight against piracy and the illegal download industry. Then again, Skyfall opened in the UK and almost everywhere else before it showed up in American theaters, so one wonders if this will be an issue or not. It still doesn’t seem likely that SPECTRE will achieve the $300 million domestic gross of Skyfall since early reviews are far more mixed than positive.
It’s hard to think that SPECTRE will have quite the same success as Skyfall just because that was such a huge evolution for the franchise helped by the year-long 50th Anniversary celebration leading up to it, while SPECTRE is opening in a year inundated with spy films. SPECTRE should still open big, probably in the $85 million range, but it’s going to be hard for it to hit $300 million with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opening in two short weeks. $250 million seems more likely. (Skyfall did have to take on the finale of “The Twilight Saga” in its second weekend but that didn’t have nearly as much of a male audience as “The Hunger Games” has found for itself.)
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
What It’s About: Charlie Brown begins an epic quest to get back home while his dog Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.
One of the most common practices in the last decade is to kick off November and the holiday season by releasing a family animated movie, something that’s worked well for Disney Animation, Pixar and DreamWorks Animation in the past. This year, 20th Century Fox have grabbed the plum pole position for their latest film produced “in house” with their Blue Sky Studios, whose biggest success to date is the “Ice Age” movies, which have grossed $2.8 billion worldwide.
Produced by Paul Feig, the red-hot director of comedies like Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, and the upcoming Ghostbusters, The Peanuts Movie is a rare family animated movie that doesn’t rely on famous actors as voice talent to try to get the parents into theaters—as was the case with Sandra Bullock voicing a character in Minions over the summer. Charles Schultz’s characters are so well known and beloved that the real stars are the likes of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the others who many will remember fondly from the series of animated specials that were conveniently timed with whatever holiday was coming up. They were particularly popular during the ’60s and ‘70s when new animated specials were premiering during primetime television, but there had also been a resurgence in popularity since Schultz’s death. And those that didn’t know “Peanuts” from the cartoons are just as likely to know them from the comic strips that started running way back in 1950 and have remained present in the funny pages in the decades since then.
While there hasn’t exactly been a drought of family films with Hotel Transylvania 2 and Goosebumps dominating that audience in October, The Peanuts Movie should have way more surface appeal, being that “Peanuts” is a known commodity being brought to the big screen for the first time. Traditionally 2-D animated characters being brought to the big screen in recent years has been received with mixed success, although the biggest hit was The Simpsons Movie (not necessarily a “kids” or “family” movie perse) which Fox opened in the summer of ’07 to the tune of $74 million on its way to $183 million domestic. (It actually did nearly double that amount overseas, showing the popularity of those characters worldwide.) Earlier this year, Paramount had a hit with their sequel, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, which opened with $55 million on its way to $311 million globally. Again, this was a well-known property among kids, while The Peanuts Movie has that going for it as well as having two or three generations of older fans. (The movie also has a rare G-rating, which means that parents with the youngest of kids and the more prudish moviegoers who don’t like any sex or violence might give this a try.)
The Peanuts Movie could probably be just as easily compared to Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies, the fourth of which comes out later this holiday season. The first Alvin and the Chipmunks opened with $44 million in 2007 over the normally slower pre-Christmas weekend and went on to gross $217 million. Its “squeakquel” two years later did slightly better both opening weekend and in total, although the third movie Chipwrecked “bombed” with just $130 million. If you consider how many more people know “Peanuts” than some of those other properties, one can probably expect a lot more people who haven’t gone to theaters in weeks will now have a viable brand name option as a draw.
Basically, The Peanuts Movie is going to try to make as much money as possible before Thanksgiving when the second Pixar movie of 2015, The Good Dinosaur, will open and invariably, hog up all the family business for the weeks that follow–at least until the next “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie opens.
The namebrand of the popular Charles M. Schultz characters should help make this the first choice for any adults with kids under say 12, and one can imagine that women of all ages grew up with the characters will help drive the business while guys over a certain age pick SPECTRE instead. (In fact, the only reason The Peanuts Movie may not open over $50 million is because of the competition for male audiences, although we’ve seen a few weeks where two movies targeted towards different audiences open over $50 million.) With that in mind, we can see The Peanuts Movie opening somewhere in the $40 to $45 million range and probably will end up with $150 million or more before it gets some direct competition over Thanksgiving from Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur.
This Weekend Last Year
Last November started off with two similarly big movies that successfully were able to split audiences, but the Disney Animation superhero action-adventure Big Hero 6 ended up winning the weekend with $56.2 million in 3,761 theaters, while Christopher Nolan’s outer space adventure Interstellar (Paramount) took second with $47.5 million in slightly fewer theaters. Like this weekend, nothing else grossed more than $7 million, but the $142 million grossed by the Top 10 might actually be bested this week if either or both of the new movies do as well as we expect.
This Week’s Updated Predictions
This should be a big weekend and a great way to kick-off the holiday movie season, although the presence of two movies that could potentially be big draws will keep either of them from setting any records. Either way, with most of the returning movies having already been in theaters for two, three weeks or more, expect them to not have much of an impact as SPECTRE and The Peanuts Movie dominate.
UPDATE: Opening in 384 theaters, the dramedy Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, could sneak into the Top 10 especially with Paranormal Activity losing over 400 theaters in its third weekend. (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, which bombed over Halloween weekend is already losing theaters as well, so expect them to both be on VOD very soon.)
1. SPECTRE (Sony/MGM) – $84.5 million N/A
It’s another down weekend where it’s doubtful anything will be able to do better than this week’s offerings, but giving it the old college effort will be the Chilean miner drama The 33 (Warner Bros.), starring Antonio Banderas, while Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Diane Keaton lead the early holiday ensemble comedy Love the Coopers (CBS Films). Also, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt star in her third movie as a director, the drama By the Sea (Universal), but that will be going limited rather than wide.
This Weekend’s Must-Sees
Two of the best movies of the year open this weekend and I can recommend both of them very highly.
Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight)
Spotlight (Open Road)
One of the weekend’s bigger surprises is this Texas-based film from a first-time filmmaker, which has appeared from out of nowhere:
Lost in the Sun (eOne Entertainment)
Also, the 13th Annual New York Korean Film Festival, done in partnership between the Korea Society and Subway Cinema (the guys behind the awesome annual New York Asian Film Festival!), will be running at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria from November 6 to November 11 with a number of Korean films making their New York premieres including the Opening Night premiere, Hong Won-chan’s Office, starring Ko Ah-sung, both who will be in attendance. That will be followed by the international premiere of Bong Man-Dae’s Trap, Lee Do-yun’s Confession, Oh Seung-uk’s The Shameless, Choi Dong-hoon’s Assassination and may more. I haven’t seen nearly as many of these as I’d like but anyone familiar with the great talent that’s come out of South Korea in the past couple decades (Park Chan-Wook, Kim Jee-woon, Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ki-duk being four of the country’s finest) will want to try to get out to Astoria during those five days of the festival and check out some of Korea’s other fine exports.
You can get more information and buy tickets for the films at the official Korean Film Festival site.
Other Limited Releases of Note:
The Hallow (IFC Midnight)
Trumbo (Bleecker Street)
Miss You Already (Roadside Attractions)
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (Oscilloscope Pictures)
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Submarine Deluxe)
The Condemned 2 (WWE Studios/Lionsgate)
You can post any comments or questions below, or you can get in touch with the Weekend Warrior on Twitter.
Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas