Analysis: Sony's foreign-first rollout for "Skyfall" was designed to maximize profits in Europe, but it has built major box-office buzz ahead of its U.S. debut Friday
The sky isn't falling! The sky isn't falling!
In fact, releasing "Skyfall" to foreign audiences 10 days ahead of its domestic release is a ploy that will pay off nicely: It will help make the first Bond film in four years the biggest 007 ever at the box office, the first to score over $600 million worldwide.
Daniel Craig’s Bond already has been extremely consistent as 2008's “Quantum of Solace” grossed $586 million worldwide while “Casino Royale” topped out at $594 million in 2006. But with foreign grosses for "Skyfall" alone already closing in on $300 million, the sky does indeed seem the limit.
"The huge overseas numbers for "Skyfall" have trumped all box-office news in the U.S. the last two weekends, and that buzz can only help punch up the grosses Stateside," Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap Monday.
As the only new film in wide release, "Skyfall" will also benefit from no direct competition. The current No. 1, Disney's family film "Wreck-It Ralph," targets an entirely different demographic than the PG-13-rated Bond. A similar setup helped “Quantum of Solace” debut with $67 million, the highest opening the franchise has ever seen.
Bock and other analysts see "Skyfall" taking in more than $70 million and finishing its North American run with around $230 million.
As for Sony, it's confident that “Skyfall,” will bow big, based on very positive reviews for the film, strong pre-sale figures and broad social media awareness.
And it had better. The film's first week in the U.S. will be crucial, as the following weekend will see the debut of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.” Summit’s finale of the “Twilight” series has topped the pre-sales charts since tickets became available online more than a month ago, and it is projected to open in the $150 million range.
While the foreign bows weren't intentionally set up to boost the U.S. release, Sony knew they could help. “The idea was to build worldwide momentum out of the U.K. and Western Europe,” Sony spokesman Steve Elzer told TheWrap. “We employed a similar pattern on ‘Quantum of Solace.’”
That film opened in the U.S. after rolling up $147 million from 47 countries in the previous two weeks. It wound up making $168 million domestically.
"The dating strategy for 'Skyfall' — here and abroad — was designed to take advantage of the very best play periods no matter where the film opens,” Elzer said. So timing it to align with European holidays — and avoid Halloween here — was a dollars decision.
The U.K. rollout — where Bond is one of the foremost cultural icons — coincided with the Half Term holiday, when students are on break. The debut in Catholic countries like Spain and France was timed to the long All-Saints Day weekend.
As a result, “Skyfall” has taken in a record-breaking $85.8 million from the U.K. in just 10 days. During that same period, it has already out-grossed “Quantum of Solace” and “Casino Royale” in France with $30 million.
Of course foreign success doesn’t necessarily translate with American audiences. Consider “Battleship,” the pricey aliens-at-sea saga from Universal that built a $230 million foreign cushion before it opened in the U.S. Unfortunately, it ran aground here, bowing to $25 million and topping out at $65 million.