Spectre: Strong Beginning in the US

James Bond’s Spectre has opened strongly in the US, with $5.25 million in Thursday night preview showings at 3,221 sites.

The shows generated 14% more business that the $4.6 million in Thursday night previews for Skyfall in 2012.

Spectre is exptected to gross about $80 million stateside. Sony, which distributes the film, is more conservative, antiipating in the mid-$60 million range.

The opening weekend will likely fall short of the $88.4 million debut of Skyfall, which benefited from being the only new wide release during its first weekend in theaters. Skyfall” was by far the top performer in franchise history with $304 million domestically and $804 million internationally.

With a price tag of $250 million, and more than $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, the picture will have to do $650 million worldwide to break even.

Produced by Sony, MGM and EON, Spectre is the 24th Bond picture and the fourth with Daniel Craig as 007.

It’s launching in 60 international markets this weekend after grossing $63 million in its first week in the U.K.

Spectre faces solid competition in the U.S. from Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie,” which didn’t screen Thursday night previews. The adaptation of the popular Charles Shultz comic strip should open in the mid-$40 million range from 3,897 locations.