James Bond won a landslide victory at the North American box office which finally got the latest 007 adventure Skyfall which continued to break franchise records. The 23rd film in the 50-year-old series opened to an estimated $87.8M this weekend from 3,505 theaters for a stunning $25,050 average beating out lofty industry expectations to become the biggest Bond opening ever. Adding in Thursday’s $2.2M from an early full-day launch in 463 premium large format screens (including 320 IMAX) the four-day bow came to an eye-popping $90M. Daniel Craig anchored for the third time, Judi Dench returned for her third decade in the series, and newcomers Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes joined the cast in this installment.
The Friday-to-Sunday debut was a sturdy 30% bigger than the $67.5M opening of the last Bond picture Quantum of Solace in 2008 and a whopping 115% better than the $40.8M of 2006’s Casino Royale which was Craig’s first turn in the tuxedo. Skyfall also blew away Pierce Brosnan’s best opening as the dashing MI6 agent – $47.1M for 2002’s Die Another Day. These last three 007 films all opened in mid-November and finished with $160-170M domestically.
Directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Skyfall earned glowing reviews from film critics and also won over ticket buyers with an encouraging A grade from CinemaScore. Add in the 7% jump in sales from Friday to Saturday (fellow sequel Quantum dipped 4%) and the newest Bond is set up well for the weeks ahead as positive word-of-mouth should lead to continued strength into December. Competition from A-list action vehicles is also minimal over the next few weeks. Rival studios were scared away by Skyfall which arrived as the only new wide release this weekend.
Friday kicked off with $31.7M, Saturday rose to $33.9M and Sunday is estimated by Sony to slide 35% to $22.2M. A fantastic $13.1M of the weekend business came from IMAX screens marking that company’s best non-summer opening ever. Studio research showed that 60% of the audience was male and 75% was over 25. That marked a much older and more male skew than Quantum which was 54% male and 58% over 25. Due in part to MGM’s bankruptcy issues, a very long four-year gap was created in between 007 films. Brosnan’s first three spy films were released just two years apart while his final one was three years after the previous installment. Together, the four pictures grossed $1.5 billion worldwide making for some mighty big shoes that Craig had to fill, which he has since done with authority.
Domestically, Skyfall delivered the seventh biggest November opening in history and the best for anything outside of the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises. The final Bella pic Breaking Dawn Part 2 opens next weekend in over 4,000 locations and will easily swipe the top spot. For 2012, Skyfall was the fourth best debut of the year and was in good company behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hunger Games. Based on past Bond trends, Skyfall has a very good chance of climbing past $250M by the end of its domestic run and will beat out every past Bond, Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible film domestically, internationally and worldwide.
Speaking of the rest of the planet, Skyfall remained a juggernaut collecting an estimated $89M in its third weekend of international release. That propelled the overseas cume to $428.6M and the global haul to a stunning $518.6M smashing the half-billion-dollar barrier in a mere 17 days. Even more impressive is the fact that this massive tally includes just one weekend from North America and nothing yet from Japan which opens on December 1 and China which is still finalizing release plans. To date, Craig’s trio of 007 blockbusters have grossed a combined $1.7 billion worldwide and counting.
On Monday, the new Bond will surpass the $432.2M of Casino Royale to set a new franchise record for international grosses. That pic also holds the global record with $599.6M and that mark should be obliterated next weekend. Also on Monday, Skyfall will become the second biggest blockbuster of all-time in the U.K. trailing just Avatar. It has amassed a towering $117.5M there to date and is holding up exceptionally well with $18.2M, off just 30% in its third frame. The global gross is on course to pass $900M and with such lucrative markets still to come, it may just become the first billion-dollar Bond.
For those not interested in Javier Bardem’s bleached blonde hair, another bad guy seized second place with the 3D animated hit Wreck-It Ralph collecting a stellar $33.1M, according to estimates. in its sophomore round. The Disney hit dropped by only 33% and watched its ten-day cume soar to a terrific $93.7M. Compared to original toons opening on the first weekend of November, Ralph‘s second weekend drop was better than the 37% of 2010’s Megamind but on par with the 33% of 2007’s Bee Movie. Wreck-It Ralph will crack the $100M mark later this week thanks in part to Monday’s school closings due to the observance of Veterans Day, and then could end up with $170M+. Direct competition does not arrive until the Thanksgiving release of DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians.
Paramount saw a respectable hold for its Denzel Washington drama Flight which dropped 39% to an estimated $15.1M lifting the ten-day total to a solid $47.8M from under 2,100 theaters. The R-rated pic expanded slightly in its second weekend upping its theater count by 9%. while the average fell by 44%. A final gross near the $85M mark may result which would be encouraging given that Washington and director Robert Zemeckis lowered their fees to make the pic at a cost of only $31M. In its sophomore round, Flight averaged $7,377 from 2,047 sites.
Ben Affleck’s Oscar hopeful Argo dropped 34% (its biggest dip yet) to an estimated $6.7M and raised its cume to $85.7M for Warner Bros. on its way to the century club. Fox’s kidnapping sequel Taken 2 followed with an estimated $4M, off 32%, for a total of $131.3M.
Despite the arrival of an 800-pound gorilla in Skyfall, the overall marketplace remained robust with the top five holdovers all declining by less than 40% each. And the top four movies are all big studio offerings that have won plenty of praise from film critics so multiplexes are filled with quality product right now.
The rest of the top five featured films in a tight range separated by just $200,000 so the final order may change on Monday when official weekend grosses are reported. Sony’s comedy Here Comes the Boom has been holding up well and took in an estimated $2.55M, down just 28%, putting the sum at $39.1M. Close behind with an estimated $2.53M was the Wachowski flop Cloud Atlas which fell 53% giving Warner Bros. only $22.7M to date which won’t even cover marketing expenses.
The martial arts actioner The Man with the Iron Fists collapsed in its sophomore frame falling 68% to an estimated $2.5M and $12.7M in ten days for Universal. The testosterone flick tied with the estrogen comedy Pitch Perfect which bounced back into the top ten thanks to amazing legs. The college comedy enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 18% pushing the cume up to an impressive $62M. Rounding out the list with an estimated $2.35M was the hit toon Hotel Transylvania which fell 47% and has banked $140.9M to date. It is now the fifth highest-grossing film of Adam Sandler’s career which has included 13 entries into the century club.
Steven Spielberg’s much-hyped political drama Lincoln got off to a sensational start in platform release opening to an estimated $900,000 from only 11 locations for a scorching $81,818 average. Earning strong reviews, the PG-13 film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th U.S. president during his time after re-election as he fought with Congress to pass an amendment to abolish slavery. Lincoln was produced by DreamWorks and distributed through its deal with Disney. It expands nationwide this Friday into over 1,500 theaters as it tries to establish itself as a serious Oscar contender that can also play to paying audiences. Spielberg’s subject matter is much more American this time compared to his one-two punch last holiday season when he directed The Adventures of Tintin and the World War I saga War Horse.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $159.1M which was up 28% from last year when Immortals debuted at number one with $32M; and up 48% from 2010 when Megamind remained on top with $29.1M.
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