The Bond market is booming abroad, and especially in China.
“Spectre,” the 24th entry in Hollywood’s longest-running film franchise, debuted with a record-breaking $48 million in China that helped raise the global total for the pricey super spy saga starring Daniel Craig to nearly $550 million in a little over two weeks. It has taken in $131 million in North America and $413 million internationally, $152 million this weekend alone.
The China number wasn’t that far from the total Chinese haul of “Skyfall,” the last 007 film that took in $59 million behind the Great Wall in 2012. If Sunday’s estimates hold, it will also be the biggest Friday, opening weekend, the best November and highest-grossing three days ever for a 2D U.S. movie.
IMAX played a big part in the success of “Spectre” in China, as it does with most Hollywood blockbusters. The thriller brought in $4.6 million from 246 locations, a three-day record for a November and nearly four times the opening weekend of “Skyfall.” IMAX screens occupied five of the top 10 engagements, including the No. 1 spot.
China is a hugely important part of distributor Sony Pictures’ international marketing efforts, and crucial if the film — with production and marketing costs near $35o million for Eon Productions and MGM — is to make it to profitability.
To stack the odds, Sony took to the airwaves and the internet. “Spectre” star Craig joined Alibaba founder Jack Ma in a live national TV broadcast to kick off Singles Day, the country’s biggest online shopping day, which was seen by over 500 million viewers. An upcoming episode of the TV morning show “Day Day Up” airing next week will be devoted entirely to “Spectre,” and reach more than million TV viewers and more online.
Craig, Léa Seydoux and producer Barbara Broccoli all visited in the weeks preceding the opening. The premiere was attended by 600 people and streamed online to a large national audience, and a Q&A with Seydoux and Broccoli was streamed to more than 23 million people.
Elsewhere, “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,” from Fox International Productions and Fox Star Studios, has shattered the record for the biggest release every for a movie in India. The film — “Receive the Treasure of Love” in English — took in $27 million over a four-day weekend in India to become the biggest Bollywood debut of all time.
It also set a new standard for a Bollywood film opening in the U.K. with $1.5 million. All told, it was the weekend’s second-highest grossing film with $31 million, behind only “Spectre” with $152 million.