Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spectre: Early Reviews

In North America the release of Spectre remains more than two weeks away. However, the early reviews are out, as with these two in the Guardian and Variety.

By and large, those I have seen have been favorable, and confirm what I suppose everyone suspected after the success of Skyfall, the return of Sam Mendes to the director's chair and the movie's choice of name: that the filmmakers would continue in their earlier footsteps, churning out a massive (148 minute) film less preoccupied with bringing Bond "up to date" (an increasingly thankless task, which the writers of the continuation novels wisely gave up years ago) than deriving appeal from the now very considerable screen past.1 Nonetheless, there does seem to have been at least one important change: a shift away from the more tightly Britain-centered, personal narrative of Skyfall toward a globe-hopping tale more in line with his past adventures.

However, if there is no longer much point to speculating about the film's content, how the film will do financially remains an open question. Spectre does not have the benefit of anything like the fiftieth anniversary publicity that helped Skyfall double its gross over what the previous Craig films earned--and of course, really successful films rarely have equally successful sequels--but coming just three years afterward Spectre does have the benefit of the good will toward that movie. The result is that industry analysts have been relatively reserved regarding their estimates for the opening weekend in the U.S.--guessing something in the $75-80 million range, in contrast with the $90 million Skyfall made.

I will of course have something to say about that here, whichever way things work out, but that particular number will mean only so much. The American market was always important to the Bond films, but less so than is the case for more thoroughly Hollywood fare--and it seems to be getting less so as the international cinema market expands (in recent years, driven in particular by growth in countries like China and Russia). Even Skyfall, successful as it was in the U.S., made just something like 27 percent of its money there. The result is that while I do not see very much room for expansion over Skyfall's prior gross (there never is when you're talking that kind of money), even a more modest American performance could still give Sony another billion-dollar hit.

1. I write, of course, of Faulks, Boyd and now Anthony Horowitz, who took Bond all the way back to the 1950s--the decade in which he really belongs, however much he was not at home in it.

Just Out. . . (James Bond's Evolution)
Just Out . . . (The Forgotten James Bond)
My Posts on Skyfall

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