The Chronicles of SPECTRE: SPECTRE (2015)

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

By Nicolas Suszczyk, Guest Writer

No analysis of the chronicles of SPECTRE would be complete if we didn’t examine the latest James Bond outing, SPECTRE, the fourth 007 film starring Daniel Craig and the second directed by Sam Mendes.

Back in December 2014, when the film title and cast were announced, Mendes told the press that Bond fans “knew what it was about” as the title was revealed. It indeed featured the old Bond nemesis, the organization Sean Connery and George Lazenby’s portrayals of 007 fought in the 1960s, the one lead by Ernst Stavro Blofeld with Dr. No, Emilio Largo, Rosa Klebb and Fiona Volpe as proud agents loyal to the cause.

But of course, much like the classic Bond elements and characters throughout these four Daniel Craig entries, the organization has been rebooted and adapted to the 21st century.

James Bond kills Marco Sciarra, an Italian SPECTRE agent operating in Mexico, where he planned to blow up a stadium. Bond attends Sciarra’s funeral in Rome. Bond meets Sciarra’s widow, Lucia (Monica Bellucci). The woman leads 007 to a meeting at the Palazzo Cardezza, where Sciarra’s replacement is discussed.

Harkening back to the SPECTRE board meeting in Thunderball and the Blofeld’s briefing with Rosa Klebb and Kronsteen in From Russia with Love, the organization leader joins the meeting as the members stand up in respect.

Back in 1965, SPECTRE had to steal atomic bombs or start a war to rule the world. In 2015, this new SPECTRE attempts to control the intelligence services worldwide through the Nine Eyes program championed by Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott). Denbigh is also known as C and is the leader of MI5 –- now merged with MI6 –- and a headache for M (Ralph Fiennes) and Bond.

Under the argument that the 00 section is obsolete and new technology and drones can do the same job a man can and better, C convinces the head of nine intelligence services from across the world to join the integrated network. Many of the services were “convinced” after some terrorists attempts occurred in their countries, perpetrated, of course, by SPECTRE. One of them was Sciarra’s ill-fated plan to blow a Mexican stadium during the crowded “Day of the Dead” celebration.

“World domination, the same old dream,” James Bond said when Dr. Julius No explained his plan to topple American rockets from Cape Canaveral to dominate the world.

The same old dream is back with a twist now. Worldwide domination is, this time, more subtle. It will be achieved through moles in the intelligence services and by having SPECTRE controlling everything.

It’s fair to assume the redefinition of SPECTRE for these times has been done in a brilliant way.

Guerra, a Spaniard member, offers to take up the late Sciarra’s assignment: eliminate a certain “Pale King.”

Another agent, the muscular Mr. Hinx, shows the leader he’s more suitable for the job. Hinx blinds Guerra with his thumbs and breaks his neck. At this point, 007’s cover is blown by the leader himself: Franz Oberhauser (Cristoph Waltz), his foster brother.

Later, James Bond is captured by the villain while visiting his lair inside a crater in Morocco, the control center for the Nine Eyes program. The SPECTRE chief provides 007 a painful torture taken from the pages of Kinglsey Amis’ Colonel Sun 007 continuation novel. As a white Persian cat approaches the captive secret agent, Oberhauser reveals his new name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Cristoph Waltz’s incarnation proves to be the perfect adaptation of the mastermind for the 21st century: sinister, deadly, shadowy and creepily funny at the same time. Forty-eight years after Donald Pleasance showed his bald and scarred face to Connery’s Bond inside that volcano lair in Japan in You Only Live Twice, Waltz is equally cold-blooded and reminiscent as the iconic villain.

This time, the screenwriters (John Logan, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth) added a twist. This Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother. This Blofeld killed his father (Hannes Oberhauser, whose connection with the young 007 can be read in Ian Fleming’s Octopussy short story) in revenge for the latter’s preference for the “orphan with the blue eyes.”

Through this series of essays we saw how, after Thunderball, Blofeld eclipsed SPECTRE as the main villain.

In this case, the new Blofeld is linked to the events of the three first Craig films with villains Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva being agents of SPECTRE. The terminally ill Mr. White was a high ranking member who disobeyed Blofeld and now he’s hiding on his Austrian retreat.

The dialogue between Bond and his old enemy exposes how threatening this new SPECTRE is.

It has no compunction in killing innocent relatives of their targets or former associates –- White’s daughter Madeleine and Sciarra’s wife Lucia, for example.

And, in the same way Telly Savalas’ Blofeld was responsible for Tracy’s death at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Waltz’s Blofeld declares himself as “the author” of all of Bond’s pain by showing his implication with the demise of Vesper Lynd and (Judi Dench’s) M.

“My wounds will heal, what about yours? Look around you James: everything you stood for, everything you believed in… are ruined,” Blofeld points out revealing a scar affecting his right eye –- Bond’s doing during his escape from his imprisonment in Morocco.

SPECTRE has been redefined in an exceptional way for this new era. The “four cornerstones of power” under the acronym weren’t mentioned, and as a matter of fact one of the script drafts linked the name to a platoon integrated by Oberhauser and Mr. White during their wartime activities.

Nevertheless, this new SPECTRE deals with counterintelligence, terrorism and revenge. The Nine Eyes is the organization’s way of infiltrating the worldwide secret services while using terrorist attacks to convince those nations undecided to join C’s network. On the other hand, its leader has a personal vendetta against 007.

To those who wondered why the previous Bond villains looked a bit weak, the answer is in the return of threatening organization and 007’s greatest nemesis of all time: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

SPECTRE slips to No. 2 in U.S.-Canada


SPECTRE came in No. 2 in the U.S. and Canada in its third weekend of release with an estimated $14.6 million, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO.

The 24th James Bond film finished behind The Hunger Games: Mokingjay Part 2 at $101 million. That movie had been projected for a weekend opening of more than $120 million, according to Variety. The Peanuts Movie, which opened the same weekend as SPECTRE, was No. 3 at $12.8 million.

SPECTRE’s estimate for this weekend was down 57 percent from last weekend’s $33.7 million. Final weekend figures will be released Monday.

SPECTRE was the top movie at the U.S.-Canada box office the past two weekends. The movie has generated an estimated $153.7 million in box office in the region since its Nov. 6 release.

Separately, Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office, said IN A TWEET that SPECTRE’s worldwide box office is “over $670M.”

Variety HAS ESTIMATED SPECTRE needed to generate global ticket sales of $650 million to break even. The movie’s 007 predecessor, 2012’s Skyfall, had worldwide box office of $1.11 billion.

Here’s the Exhibitor Relations tweet:

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter puts SPECTRE’s worldwide box office at $677.8 million.

UPDATE II: We went back into the Box Office Mojo archives to look at the first three weekends in the U.S. and Canada for Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Skyfall: $88.4 million, $41.1 million, $35.5 million. The third weekend dropped only 14 percent from the second weekend. A drop of 50 percent is considered average.

SPECTRE: $70.4 million, $33.7 million, $14.6 million (estimate).

SPECTRE may pass break-even point this weekend

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE may surpass the break-even point this weekend less than a month after its premiere.

Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box-office data said in a tweet that the 24th James Bond movie’s global box office “looks to top” the $670 million mark this weekend.

While only studio accountants know for sure, VARIETY ESTIMATED NOV. 4 that SPECTRE needed $650 million in worldwide box office to break even. Here’s an excerpt from that story:

With a price tag of $250 million, plus more than $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, industry executives predict that the picture will have to do $650 million to break even. That’s because “Spectre’s” backers, a group that includes Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and Eon Productions, will have to split revenues with exhibitors. Fewer than 90 films have ever achieved that gross globally and only one other Bond film, “Skyfall,” has ever surpassed that mark.

Skyfall’s global box office was $1.11 billion. An estimate for SPECTRE’s third weekend in the U.S. and Canada will be released Sunday and the actual figure on Monday.

Here’s the tweet from Exhibitor Relations.

Mendes: 007 had to thread needle between Bourne, Marvel

SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, had to thread a needle between Jason Bourne and movies from Marvel Studios on the other, Sam Mendes said earlier this month in New York.

“It’s very tricky… to walk the knife edge between, you know, Bourne on the one hand, which is brilliant, especially when done by (director) Paul Greenglass, and Marvel on the other,” Mendes said during an appearance at TimesTalk, part of events held by The New York Times, which sells tickets for people to attend.

“Bond is in this very narrow…you’re threading the needle,” Mendes added. “You only have so many tools you can use.”

The director of SPECTRE and Skyfall also acknowledged specific homages in SPECTRE to earlier Bond movies (Live And Let Die in the pre-titles sequence) and From Russia With Love (train fight between Bond and Hinx on the train).

“But sometimes people see a snow sequence and say, ‘Ah, The Spy Who Loved Me.’ No, it’s just a snow sequence.”

You can view other comments from Mendes and Craig on this video below, which the Times uploaded to YouTube. Note: the closed captioning has a few mistakes, including “marble” for Marvel.

SPECTRE’s U.S.-Canada 2d weekend revised to $33.7 million

SPECTRE LOGOSPECTRE’s final figure for its second U.S.-Canada weekend was revised to $33.7 million, down from Sunday’s estimate of $35.4 million, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO.

The 24th James Bond film has now generated box office of $129 million in the region through Nov. 15, according to the movie box office website. That’s down from about $161 million for Skyfall for the comparable period in 2012.

SPECTRE has been the No. 1 box office movie for the U.S. and Canada the past two weekends. Skyfall was also No. 1 for two weekends — but not consecutive ones. In 2012, Skyfall was the No. 1 box office movie for the Nov. 9-11 weekend (its debut) and again during the Dec. 7-9 weekend (the film’s fifth weekend).

SPECTRE’s global box office has totaled more than $540 million through Nov. 15. That’s almost half way to Skyfall’s total of $1.11 billion.

SPECTRE No. 1 in U.S.-Canada for 2d weekend

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE was the No. 1 movie in the U.S. and Canada for the second weekend in a row with estimated box office of $35.4 million, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO.

The 24th James Bond film’s second weekend declined by about half compared with its debut weekend, which is a typical drop.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER said SPECTRE has generated $130 million so far in the region, down from about $161 million during the comparable period for its 007 predecessor, 2012’s Skyfall. Last weekend, SPECTRE debuted at $70.4 million, compared with $88.4 million for Skyfall’s first weekend.

The new 007 film “is making up ground overseas, where it is pacing head of Skyfall in many markets,” THR’s Pamela McClintock wrote, concerning SPECTRE’s box office outside the U.S. and Canada.

SPECTRE “was No. 1 globally for the second straight week and has rung up more than half a billion dollars in roughly two weeks,” THE WRAP‘s Todd Cunningam wrote.

Skyfall’s global box office was $1.11 billion, the first Bond film to go past the $1 billion mark. Of that figure, $304.4 million came from the U.S. and Canada.

The No. 2 film this weekend was The Peanuts Movie at $24.2 million. Peanuts also debuted last weekend. In 2012, Skyfall was the only new movie in general release in its opening weekend.

UPDATE: The Wrap HAS PUBLISHED more information. The website said SPECTRE had an opening of $48 million in China and that the movie’s global box office is almost $550 million.

SPECTRE U.S.-Canada final opening weekend: $70.4 million


SPECTRE’s final figure for its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada was reduced to $70.4 million, Exhibitors Relations, which tracks movie box office, said today on Twitter.

That’s down from the initial $73 million estimate given out at midday Sunday. The 24th James Bond film still had the No. 2 007 opening in the region, behind 2012’s Skyfall at $88.4 million and ahead of 2008’s Quantum of Solace at $67.5 million.

In 2012, Skyfall had U.S.-Canada box office $304.4 million out of the movie’s global box office of $1.11 billion.

Here’s the Exhibitors Relation tweet:


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