Box office: 'Spectre' now heading for $75M debut; 'Peanuts' eyes strong $46M

Pamela McClintock
'Spectre': Movie Video Review
'Spectre': Movie Video Review

James Bond and Charlie Brown's gang are re-energizing the North American box office after a dismal few weekends.

Spectre is on course to approach $75 million-$80 million for the weekend after easily winning Friday with an estimated $27.5 million. The movie, playing in 3,972 theaters, is getting the widest release of any Bond film.

The Peanuts Movie, hoping to birth a new family film franchise, is also scoring with a $12.1 million Friday and projected weekend take of $46 million from 3,890 locations.

Based on early Friday matinee returns, most thought Spectre would hit $80 million, and Peanuts, $50 million, but business tapered off more than expected later in the evening.

Read MoreBox Office: 'Spectre' Opens to Spectacular $6.4M in U.K. Monday Night

Spectre -; James Bond's 24th trip to theaters -; kicked off at 7 p.m. Thursday night with $5.25 million, ahead of the $4.6 million grossed by Skyfall (2012) in midnight grosses. Skyfall went on to earn $88.4 million for the weekend, a series best. Friday's audience gave Spectre an A- CinemaScore, although the tentpole has received the worst reviews of any of the four Bond movies Daniel Craig has starred in.

Sony, MGM and Eon Productions, who partnered on Spectre, note it faces more competition than Skyfall, which had the weekend to itself in terms of new releases. Heading into the weekend, Sony insiders estimated the movie would open to $60 million-$65 million.

Skyfall's Sam Mendes returned to direct Spectre, which follows 007 as he travels the globe attempting to uncover a sinister organization. Christoph Waltz joins as the villain, while Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci star as the new Bond girls.

The tentpole cost at least $250 million to produce after incentives and rebates, so will need to do sizeable business at the global box office, or $900 million-plus by some estimates. Spectre is already breaking records in the U.K., where it earned $63.8 million in its first seven days, the largest opening of all time and beating Skyfall, which became the first Bond movie to cross $1 billion at the worldwide box office with $1.1 billion in global ticket sales.

Read MoreTV Ratings: Charlie Brown's 'Great Pumpkin' Strong as Ever Ahead of 'Peanuts' Box-Office Bow

The Peanuts Movie, based on Charles M. Schulz's famous comic strip, didn't have any Thursday night previews before rolling out everywhere Friday. The 3D animated movie, costing just under $100 million to produce, was directed by Steve Martino, and is the first feature-length movie based on the famous characters. It coincides with the 65th anniversary of the strip and the 50th anniversary of the classic TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

From Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, Peanuts is truly a family affair, with Schulz's son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, co-writing the screenplay with Cornelius Uliano. In agreeing to hand over the film rights -; a coup for Fox -;the Schulz brood was insistent on retaining a certain amount of creative control.

Peanuts enjoys strong reviews, as well as boasting an A CinemaScore.

The story follows Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the gang as they embark on an epic quest when Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue the Red Baron.