This is quite something... Outdoing even Avatar, which set the bar worldwide for wide releasing, the latest Bond franchise flick, Spectre (apparently a $300m budget - the tentpole level keeps rising), has hit an incredible 647 cinemas in its debut week in UK cinemas. Many of those will be running multiple prints (or digital copies), meaning Spectre is sucking up a near majority of UK screen space.
I wonder if the hugely hyped Star Wars movie will surpass even this high watermark? Perhaps not in the UK, where Skyfall was the first and only £100m movie.
Here's a key quote from the latest box office analysis:
Spectre is playing this week in 647 cinemas – the widest ever release for a film in the UK and Ireland. Of course, the screen count will be far, far higher than that, with multiplexes offering audiences an enormous choice of start times (43 shows per day at a Vue in Birmingham, for example) by programming the film in multiple screens.
Hotel Transylvania 2 keeps its fangs in UK box office – but Spectre is looming http://gu.com/p/4dk9p?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Relatively weak reviews have lead to doubts that it can match Skyfall's US performance, though the global outlook may be rosier:
Spectre tipped to fall short of Skyfall on debut at US box office
Bond is best of British – and Spectre still has a view to a killing overseas
This article notes that Spectre is up on Skyfall's openings in all but one of its initial European release territories, and that whilst the UK, Germany and France have been the top 3 Bond markets after the US, the Mexico set-piece is revealing, reflecting a determined assault on developing markets (leading to the confident conclusion that it will beat $1.1bn).
The scale of the Spectre release is indicated by the fact that the further 45 countries its released in next week still don't represent the end of its global rollout.
It's little wonder a fierce battle is likely to break out for distribution rights to the franchise as Sony's deal with production studio MGM (and British partner Eon) ends.
Rival studios 'eye James Bond distribution rights' as Sony's deal expires
The standout figure from this article is that Sony made only $57m from the $1.1bn smash Skyfall, and will make only $38m if Spectre repeats that spectacular box office.
Skyfall benefitted from the global boost of a tie-in with the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, roping in the Queen as a star for a glitzy Games/Skyfall ad that racked up huge online viewing figures as well as the global live audience. A good example of Baudrillard's simulacrum concept, with the fictional Bond used as a core signifier of Britishness in the British Olympics.
2015 saw a rather more sinister simulacrum, with Spectre's release coinciding with spectacularly fawning, olageanous exclusives in the Murdoch Times and 'neutral' BBC with MI5 as MPs and the wider media debated the jaw-dropping demands of the police and security forces, through the fiercely pliant Home Secretary, for legal powers to hack every UK citizen's entire digital existence. Orwell would conceivably have rejected this as unrealistic, unconvincing fiction, but such is the reality beyond the distraction factory.