Will 'Spectre' Top 'Skyfall' at the U.K. Box Office?

Spectre_Still - h 2015
Courtesy of Sony

The new James Bond film opens in its home market Monday and follows the most successful 007 ever and the biggest film of all time at the British box office.

Spectre opens across the U.K. Monday night — 11 days before its U.S. launch — with a weight of expectations that James Bond, for all his cool, unaffected temperament, is unlikely to have felt before.

In 2012, Skyfall became the highest-grossing 007 movie of all time, taking a record £102.9 million ($157.7 million) in its home territory, where it’s still the biggest film of all time, and $1.11 billion globally. Bond titles have consistently outdone their previous franchise installments since the brand was rebooted in 1995, but few people — including Sam Mendes himself — were expecting the figures that came in for Skyfall (almost double the box office of Quantum of Solace globally).

While Skyfall’s success saw Mendes return to the director’s chair once more, three years on and there has been endless speculation regarding Spectre — whether it’ll be Daniel Craig’s last to whether Christoph Waltz’s character will indeed be Ernst Stavro Blofeld. But behind it all lurks the question of whether it can beat its predecessor.

“I think it’ll give Skyfall a run for its money in the U.K.” one cinema industry insider tells The Hollywood Reporter. Alongside the blanket coverage in the British press that began since the film was formally announced in December — mostly concerning who will be filling Craig’s blood-splattered shoes when he steps down (still a source of intense debate) — an additional, unexpected factor could help boost the opening box-office haul.

“England’s early exit from the Rugby World Cup is certainly likely to help, while the weather will be a major boost, especially if it's bad," said the insider. For the record, a sunny start to the week will, according to forecasts, soon make way for four days of rain in London.

Spectre also will benefit from more showings than Skyfall, which landed in 587 theaters and on more than 1,500 screens, taking $32.4 million in its opening weekend, the 2012 record. In comparison, the 24th Bond is hitting 2,300 screens and with little viable competition. The Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension both bowed in the U.K. last Wednesday, The Martian is currently into its fourth week, and no other major titles are being released until November.

“Were it not for Star Wars, Spectre would probably have broken prebooking records,” says the insider.

What Spectre doesn’t have, however, is the feeling of national pride generated in 2012, which saw the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. (Queen Elizabeth herself famously took part in a 007 sketch at the Olympics opening ceremony.) Skyfall, featuring arguably Britain’s most famous fictional cinema character, successfully tapped into this flag-waving sentiment.

“It was a sort of perfect storm in the U.K.,” Mendes tells THR. “It was almost like it was unpatriotic not to see Skyfall.”

In Spectre's favor, though, is the possibility that it could be Craig’s last and the "Is it better than Skyfall?" curiosity factor. An early indicator for success came last month, when its theme, Sam Smith’s "The Writing’s on the Wall," became the first Bond song to top the U.K. music charts, despite largely unfavorable reviews.

In the U.S., MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler tells THR that Spectre is looking at an opening “similar to Skyfall,” around the $85 million to $90 million mark (Skyfall bowed with $88.4 million), for a total haul, according to FBR Research's Barton Crockett, of around $295 million (Skyfall grossed $304.4 million), making it the eighth biggest title this year. But with almost two weeks between launches, U.S. earnings could be affected by any U.K. momentum.

Will Spectre top Skyfall? Like most of James Bond’s near-death experiences with evil megalomaniacs, it’s likely going to be tight.