Box Office: ‘Spectre’ Huge on Friday for $80M Debut; ‘Peanuts’ Eyes Strong $48M

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

6 charts capturing James Bond’s legacy as ‘Spectre’ debuts.

Now film bosses are confident he will play the secret agent a fifth time, meaning they can put back their agonising decision on who will be the next 007 for at least three years.When Sony Pictures employees booted up their computers a year ago, scowling skulls and the audio-recorded ratatatat of submachine gun fire announced that their IT systems had been gutted.

In 1964’s Goldfinger, nefarious Auric Goldfinger famously tells Sean Connery’s British secret agent James Bond—who’s strapped to a table, a laser beam slowly encroaching upon his crotch—that the purpose of this torture isn’t to make him talk. “No Mr.Now that Spectre is out in theaters — and it’s doing quite well domestically, projected to nearly reach $75 million for the weekend — thoughts return to the questions that have been asked with increasing urgency: what’s next for the James Bond franchise?

“Spectre,” the 24th James Bond film, has set its sights on a weekend haul of $75 million after pulling in $28 million from 3,929 locations on Friday. So unfolded the movie studio’s colossal hacking. (Read Fortune’s epic three-part investigation into that fiasco here, here, and here.) When the screen lit up inside the seventh floor theater of Sony’s SNE -1.06% New York headquarters on Wednesday night for an advance viewing of the latest James Bond adventure, the scene revealed a skeleton-scattered landscape—a raucous Día de Muertos fiesta in Mexico City—followed, eventually, by the pewpewpew of an assassin’s semi-automatic rifle. Bond, I expect you to die!” He doesn’t, of course, and for the past 53 years, he’s lived on courtesy of a plethora of actors (Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and now Daniel Craig) who’ve all tried to put their own distinctive stamp on 007. The Sony, MGM and EON, release — directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Lea Seydoux — had been pegged to generate as much as $80 million in its first weekend.

Daniel has always made it quite clear that he will be available to play the role for as long as he is required.” The Cheshire-born star, married to British actress Rachel Weisz, 45, replaced Pierce Brosnan as Bond in 2006. Considering “Spectre’s” Thursday night take of $5.25 million and a Friday total under the anticipated $30 million mark, however, the latest Bond outing is pacing to fall short of “Skyfall’s” $88.4 million debut and land in the mid-$70 million range, in line with Sony’s conservative estimates. Perhaps one would be mistaken to read too much into the coincidental display of bones and bullets in Sony’s digital ransacking and the Bond movie’s prelude. Because as this Friday’s highly anticipated Spectre reconfirms, James Bond and his customary wham-bam thank you ma’am sagas have grown hopelessly stale, outdated, and unoriginal.

Carrying a hefty budget of $250 million, plus an additional $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, “Spectre” will have to rake in $650 million worldwide to break even. Bond is our baby.” As for Craig, who has repeatedly alluded to being finished with the franchise after Spectre, Broccoli is trying to keep hope alive. “Maybe I’m in denial, but I don’t want to think about another Bond.” If his own interviews are to be believed, Craig doesn’t want to think about himself as Bond anymore. After a series of positive reviews, fans have flocked to the opening​ ​weekend. “The positive word of mouth about it has prompted many people to see the movie on Friday, and we expect to see those numbers swell dramatically.

He told London’s Time Out, “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists” than do another Bond movie, though it’s important to note that that provocative statement was immediately followed by “Not at the moment.” So if Craig is “over it at the moment,” perhaps Broccoli is right to be optimistic. “Until he definitely says otherwise,” she told the Times, “I’m not going to give it another thought.” As for the studio issue, Sony Pictures is expected to contend with Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox for the rights to the next series of Bond films. A blockbuster that saw the return of director Martin Campbell—the man responsible for the best Bond film of the preceding Brosnan era, 1995’s Goldeneye—and the introduction of Daniel Craig as a more rugged, animalistic 007, it was not only a smash hit commercially but an electric reinvention creatively. And Broccoli and Wilson are fully aware that with a new studio comes a new regime’s stamp on the franchise. “If we get the wrong partners, there are liable to be conflicts,” Mr.

Moore took over in 1973’s “Live and Let Die.” Daniel Craig has played James Bond four times, though he hinted that “Spectre” may be his last. One would not be mistaken then, in reading the story as a serendipitous commentary on very real legislative initiatives under review in the United Kingdom at this very moment. By transitioning the character from Brosnan’s handsome-and-I-know-it suaveness to Craig’s rugby volatility, the series was revitalized, largely because it felt as if it was reflecting a cynical contemporary geopolitical climate rife with anger, violence, betrayal, and mistrust.

Directed by Steve Martino, this 3D animated endeavor is the first feature-length movie to star Charlie Brown and his pals since they were created 65 years ago. A draft bill wending its way through the parliament, for instance, proposes to grant intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials sweeping surveillance powers within the country. The 2012 entry Skyfall may have been the long-running franchise’s highest-grossing chapter, but it was a depressing devolution into The Dark Knight derivation—replete with a backstory that revealed Bond to be an orphan who, after his parents were killed, was raised by a kind grandfatherly servant in an enormous ancestral mansion, and who transformed himself into a rugged crime-fighting machine after spending a few days in a deep, dank cave-like hole. Devoid of novel ideas, director Sam Mendes opted to plunge Craig’s iteration of the character into grimdark Batman territory, marked by chilly amorality, long-buried family secrets and a Joker-esque adversary (in this case, renegade MI6 agent Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva) who functioned as the protagonist’s dark mirror image.

Rest assured, I won’t spoil what happens in the spy’s fictional universe, but I will reiterate the exasperated advice of many a cybersecurity expert: Building backdoors into people’s private communications is a bad practice. Connery outshines his fellow Bonds with a total of 5 hours and 16 minutes dressed up, spending more than 70% of “From Russia With Love” in a suit. Returning director Mendes again exhibits scant capacity to stage a fistfight or shootout with anything approaching spatial lucidity, and unlike in Skyfall, he fails to deliver a show-stopping action centerpiece to make up for the spare-parts quality of his story, which concerns Bond’s personal mission to investigate Spectre.

Some of the most memorable gadgets popping up in Bond films over the years have included cyanide cigarettes, fake fingerprints, tape recorder cameras, dagger shoes, a Rolex equipped with a laser, a car invisibility cloak, a ring camera and a write-mounted dart gun. An attempt on the part of the screenwriters to tie the narrative strings together on the Daniel Craig-acted Bond series resembles a knotty threadbare tangle.

That shadowy corporate cabal apparently controls everything, and is run by a sinister figure named Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who shares a history with the spy. Bloomberg’s chart examines the average number of gadgets used by Bond per film. 1964’s “Goldfinger” is often regarded as the most quintessential and critically acclaimed Bond movie with a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But the glamorous aspects of “007” espionage are as enthralling as ever—the car chases, the helicopter fights, the explosions, the seduction, and yes, the martinis.

Anyone familiar with Bond’s most famous villains will know Oberhauser’s true identity from the start, but in a misbegotten attempt to generate suspense and surprise, Spectre pretends he’s someone other than this memorable baddie—thereby making much of the proceedings a drawn-out waiting game for the arrival of an obvious revelation. The Bond series’ feminism has never extended past making some of its female eye candy “doctors,” and that holds true in as well, via Bond’s latest love-for-a-day Dr. Nominally presented as a tough girl who can spit venom and handle a handgun, Seydoux’s Swann is inevitably given little to do but pout, argue, and then fall out-of-the-blue madly in love with the agent—only to then become a damsel in distress. Consequently, Spectre, to a greater extent than 2008’s action-incompetent Quantum of Solace and 2012’s overlong Skyfall, leaves the entire franchise feeling hopelessly musty, a relic of an earlier age that’s now only capable of repeating itself.

Even Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” theme, set to a typically symbolism-laden credit sequence (Octopuses and fire and guns, oh my!), is just a dull, de rigueur concession to procedure. Of course, what’s helped 007 endure for five decades is its signature flourishes, which unite its disparate sagas and make each installment recognizable, and comfortable.

Those gestures also, however, make it safe and unadventurous—a series ferociously clinging to old tics and mannerisms like a timid child clutching his blankie during a thunderstorm. Throwing money at the screen in a vain attempt to create awe-inspiring spectacle, Spectre offers a chase through Mexico’s Day of the Dead parade, a pursuit down a snowy mountain in a rapidly crumbling plane, and a late Bond-in-a-torture-device bit—moments that are so old-hat, it’s no wonder Craig looks bored by the sound and fury surrounding him at every turn (and why the actor recently claimed he’d prefer slashing his wrists to reprising the part for a fifth time). Rarely has the character come across as more apathetic than he does in Spectre, ostensibly because he’s both literally and figuratively retracing the same old steps, be it in terms of his derring-d—some high-wire assassinations here, some bedroom lovemaking there—and in terms of his outfits (snappy tuxedos, sharp designer suits), his catchphrases, and his general, unflappable air of cold-blooded nonchalance and ladies man cockiness. For one, rather than hiring directors (Mendes, Marc Forster, Roger Spottiswoode, John Glen) with bland visual styles and minimal-to-nonexistent action credentials, Eon Productions could court high-profile auteurs—think Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, or George Miller—to bring an idiosyncratic angle to the material.

Similarly, they could be daring in their casting, be it by heeding fans’ spot-on demands to hand a Walther PPK and the keys to an Aston Martin to Idris Elba, or by turning Bond on his head and reimagining him as a woman (Charlize Theron, ideally). For that matter, simply plumbing the moral quandaries posed by its stories would bring welcome depth to the spy’s shallow, flash-above-substance tales. In the case of the former, giving free reign to stylistically inimitable filmmakers has meant that Ethan Hunt’s every new escapade (including this past summer’s Rogue Nation) comes across as unconventional and unpredictable. For the latter, a unique handheld aesthetic and sense of go-for-broke momentum, as well as a timely fixation on surveillance-apparatus technology, has made it a fresh alternative to Bond’s old-school antics—a comparison only likely to be exacerbated by the fourth Bourne installment that’s now on the horizon. Whereas Casino Royale established the potential for forthcoming character-study complexity, Spectre’s regurgitation proves that such hopefulness was misplaced.

Now merely stirring up its familiar elements rather than shaking up its tired formula, it’s an illustrious franchise that, if unwilling to radically reboot itself, should go gracefully into retirement.

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