Box-Office Preview: 'Spectre' and 'Peanuts Movie' to the Rescue

Spectre and The Peanuts Movie Split - H  2015
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures; Blue Sky Animation/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The 24th installment in the James Bond franchise is widely expected to top the chart, while 'The Peanuts Movie' hopes to launch a new family franchise for Fox; 'Brooklyn,' 'Spotlight' and 'Trumbo' open at the specialty box office.

Good grief, James Bond.

The combination of the world's most famous spy and most beloved four-legged beagle, aka James Bond and Snoopy, plus a boy named Charlie Brown, are expected to bring the North American box office back to life after a brutal few weeks.

Spectre, the 24th Bond film, is tracking to gross $70 million to $75 million domestically, less than the $88.4 million earned by Skyfall on its first weekend in November 2012, a series best. Some believe Spectre, reteaming director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig, could come in at $80 million, but Sony and MGM are being far more conservative, suggesting in the high $60 million-range.

They say the film faces more competition than Skyfall because of The Peanuts Movie, which could distract parents. Still, Skyfall is going out in roughly 3,972 locations, the widest release of any title in the iconic spy franchise. The tentpole, from Sony, MGM and Eon Productions, cost at least $250 million to produce after incentives and rebates.

In 2006, Casino Royale — marking Craig's first turn as 007 — came in at No. 2 with $40.8 million opposite family offering Happy Feet ($41.5 million). Two years later, Quantum of Solace opened to $67.5 million. As with Skyfall, Solace was the weekend's only new offering.

Spectre is already breaking records in the U.K., where it earned $63.8 million in its first seven days, the largest opening of all time and beating Skyfall, which became the first Bond movie to cross $1 billion at the worldwide box with $1.1 billion in global ticket sales.

With Spectre, Christoph Waltz joins the franchise as the villain, while the new Bond girls are Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci.

The Peanuts Movie, based on Charles M. Schulz's famous comic strip, is tracking to open in the $40 million to $44 million range for Fox, but there's plenty of upside.

The 3D animated movie, costing just under $100 million to produce, was directed by Steve Martino, and is the first feature-length movie based on the famous characters. It coincides with the 65th anniversary of the strip and the 50th anniversary of the classic TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

From Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, Peanuts is truly a family affair, with Shulz's son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, co-writing the screenplay with Cornelius Uliano. In agreeing to give the film rights to Fox, the Schulz brood was insistent on retaining a certain amount of creative control.

The story follows Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the gang as they embark on an epic quest when Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue the Red Baron. Peanuts opens out in 3,890 theaters.

As awards season heats up, the specialty box office sees the debut of three titles in select theaters: John Crowley's Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan; Tom McCarthy's Spotlight , starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams; and Jay Roach's Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston.