James Bond Smashes UK Box Office Records With ‘Spectre’ Ahead of US Release Date

Spectre has broken box office records on its first full day in the UK, making $9.2 million. This is the highest gross takings for a Tuesday in British cinema history, reports Variety. Spectre’s takings also beat the first full day earnings of Skyfall in 2012, the previous and most successful Bond movie ever.

Spectre made $6.4 million on its opening night in the U.K. on Monday, bringing the combined two-day total to $15.6 million.

The opening day takings were also bigger than Skyfall’s and especially impressive given the Spectre screenings started at 8:15 p.m. and debuted on a Monday, as opposed to Skyfall, which debuted on a Friday. Spectre also humbled Skyfall in terms of IMAX plays — 40 versus Skyfall’s 21, according to Deadline.

Skyfall is still the top grossing film of all 24 installments in the Bond franchise. It took $1.1 billion worldwide, $304 million in the U.S. and is the highest grossing movie of all time in the UK raking in £103 million.

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The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City, reenacted for the opening sequence of ‘Spectre.’ [Image via MGM Studios]
Spectre, the 24th film of the Bond franchise, is the second to be directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes and the fourth to feature Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s fictional Secret Service agent.

Skyfall’s success was the result of a new-found maturity in characterization, narrative, and plot, brought to the Bond universe under Sam Mendes’ direction.

Many critics and fans hailed Skyfall as the best Bond movie ever, and there are high hopes and expectations that Spectre could equal or even surpass the standard set by its predecessor.

Like Skyfall, the Spectre script has been written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade and backed by a budget of $300 million, making it the second most expensive film in cinema history.

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A scene from ‘Spectre’ of Bond running across the rooftops of Mexico city in pursuit. [Image via MGM Studios]
The film centers around Bond’s discovery of SPECTRE, a global criminal organization (picture an underground United Nations of villains, but far more effective).

The film unites all of Daniel Craig’s Bond films — Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall — together within an overarching and interconnected storyline.

SPECTRE, an acronym standing for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, is part of the Bond canon and last appeared as part of the cinema franchise in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever.

Spectre is set within the context of a digital age, where field agents such as Bond and indeed the entire MI6 program led by M (Ralph Fiennes) are under threat of extinction from Max Denbigh (Sherlock’s Andrew Scott), new head of the Centre for National Security. Denbigh is a reformer who sees the future of national security in computers, silicon chips, and international alliances.

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The mysterious criminal organization SPECTRE which Bond attempts to infiltrate in the quest for truth. [Image via MGM Studios]
Bond uncovers the existence of SPECTRE after following a trail set in motion by a cryptic message from his past.

The information sends Bond on an unofficial mission to Mexico City, where he foils a terrorist atrocity and assassinates Marco Sciara, an Italian mobster, retrieving a curious octopus ring in the process.

On returning to London, Bond is taken off field duty indefinitely by M, but he disobeys orders and travels to Rome, where he meets Sciara’s widow Lucia (Monica Bellucci) and learns of the criminal organisation to which her husband belonged.

As Bond delves deeper and deeper, he covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to aid his rogue mission, which inexorably leads him to Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), daughter of an old enemy and the person who could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of SPECTRE and a terrible truth it holds.

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Lucia Sciarra, played by Monica Bellucci is the first ‘Bond Woman’ and signals a shift in the franchise’s female characterization. [Image via MGM Studios]
Spectre has been dubbed the first feminist Bond movie, attracting praise for its progressive and modern representation of female characters.

Monica Bellucci is the first love interest to not be decades younger than Bond. Bellucci, when speaking of her role rejected the sexist nomenclature of the Bond Girl label, preferring to describe herself as a Bond Woman.

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Madelaine Swann, played by Lea Seydoux, psychologist and the daughter of an assassin who is more than a match for Bond. [Image via MGM Studios]
Although Lea Seydoux is nearer the typical age range for an archetypal Bond Girl, both she and Bellucci bring a sense of poise, confidence, and strength to their characters, making them far more potent and powerful than the passive sex objects of the franchise’s past.

The female characterization is a radical and welcome departure, but all the elements of the Bond formula — spectacular locations, striking cinematography, heart-in-mouth stunts, explosions, fights, iconic cars, and high-tech gadgets — all remain intact.

The rugged icy landscape of Austria and the Tiefenbach glaciers provide stunning backdrops for some of the movie’s major action moments, including a dramatic plane crash stunt.

Central Rome and Vatican city were shut down for a high-speed car chase along the River Tiber, and sequences which encompassed some of Rome’s iconic landmarks and introduces us to the Aston Martin DB10.

Aston designed and developed the DB10 especially for Spectre, a beautiful, muscular, and minimalist supercar with an engine soundtrack that would put a Ferrari to shame.

London’s historic river Thames is the night time setting for a high-speed boat and low-flying helicopter chase, while four months of construction was spent creating sets in Morocco that combined with bustling streetlife, labyrinthine alleyways, and a desert compound to bring a rough, harsher aesthetic.

The opening sequence of Spectre was filmed in Mexico City, where the cast and crew, along with a crowd of thousands of extras, recreated the famous Day of the Dead celebrations, above which a dramatic helicopter sequence was shot.

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Bond in hand to hand combat with Spectre’s arch henchman, Mr. Hinx played by Dave Bautista. [Image via MGM studios]
Spectre is Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as Bond, and there is some uncertainty as to whether it will be his last — Craig has made comments during Spectre’s promotion that have been interpreted, right or wrongly, as giving off mixed signals as to whether he will continue.

There is endless debate among audiences on who is the best Bond, and despite an initial hostility towards Craig from some fans, he is now up there with Sean Connery in many people’s eyes as pick of the bunch.

Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond has revolutionized the role, bringing new dimensions to the character, which have elevated it beyond the trivial and frivolous into something darker and more complex.

Combined with scripts that focussed on character development, Daniel Craig has brought an emotional depth and vulnerability to the part. We have seen Bond falling in love, have his heart broken, feel the desolation of pain and loss, and, as a result, been offered human insight into what moulded this gritty, indestructible, and brutal assassin.

One thing is certain – if Spectre is to be Craig’s final appearance as 007, he will be a very hard act to follow.

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Daniel Craig’s Bond stands among burning wreckage in ‘Spectre.’ It is unclear whether this will be his final film in the role. [Image via MGM studios]
[Image via MGM Studios]

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