Stand down! That’s the order that studios have given to their troops as no wide releases will open against the new James Bond actioner Quantum of Solace which will have a clear path to the number one spot. Holdover Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa should generate another solid weekend of ticket sales from family audiences as the top two movies should muscle their way to a combined $100M+ over the frame which would exceed what the entire Top 20 grossed a year ago.
Even an awful title can’t stand in the way of Mr. Bond who will seize control of pole position with his latest adventure Quantum of Solace. The PG-13 film sees Daniel Craig returning for the second of his contract’s four turns as the British super agent, this time battling a villain out to take control of natural resources. The latest Sony/MGM project follows 2006’s Casino Royale which opened to $40.8M on its way to a stellar $167M domestically. Since the film industry chooses to measure success by dollars and not admissions, Casino gets the distinction of being the top film in the four-decade-old series. Since the low point of Timothy Dalton‘s License to Kill in the Batman-Indiana Jones-dominated summer of 1989, each Bond installment has grossed more than its predecessor and the trend is likely to continue this year.
The opening weekend average should certainly shoot higher than Casino Royale‘s $11,891, but will probably fall short of The Bourne Ultimatum‘s $18,930 from last year. To American audiences, Jason Bourne is the more popular spy. Quantum will benefit from the lack of new wide releases and from the fact that there really hasn’t been any popular action movie since September’s Eagle Eye which remains the fall season’s top-grossing picture. The time is right for a proven action franchise to hit the multiplexes and offer audiences some top-notch escapism.
In some ways, Quantum is in the same position that The Dark Knight was in a few months ago. Both are sequels to very popular reboots of very popular franchises that used quality actors with a tougher, grittier tone. Now, the new Bond is unlikely to scale the same box office heights, but its opening weekend should easily beat out its predecessor’s. For both Batman Begins and Casino Royale, there were many fans that hesitated in the first weekend and waited until later to buy a ticket. That wait flies out the window for the new installments as the new and improved franchises have proven themselves.
The new 007’s weaknesses are few, but they do exist. Quantum‘s reviews are somewhat good but not nearly as glowing as those for Casino two years back. Most find the new flick to be a step down from the last one. Given that the franchise skews older, the reviews might have a small impact. And of course the title could not be less exciting. But those factors will be overshadowed by the strength of the brand, the clear playing field, and the strong marketing push. Jumping into more than 3,400 locations, Quantum of Solace might take in roughly $57M this weekend.
Look for last weekend’s top film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa to slide down to second place with another solid gross. Weekday sales have been sturdy with $5.1M on Monday followed by a big bounce to $9.8M on Tuesday which saw many schools closed for the Veterans Day holiday. Generally family films opening in early November post strong holds on the second weekend. However in the small world of cartoon sequels playing theatrically, it’s a different story with Ice Age: The Meltdown falling 50% in its sophomore session in April 2006. With no new competition, Africa should drop by a smaller amount, maybe 35%. That would give Ben Stiller and company about $44M for the weekend and a robust ten-day tally of $131M.
Role Models was admired by Universal last weekend for its outstanding debut. Bond will take away some of its audience, but the Seann William Scott–Paul Rudd pic is the only major comedy for adults so it should still carve out a nice slice of the pie. A 45% decline would leave it with $10.5M and a cume of $38M after ten days.
Disney is still rocking with its franchise film High School Musical 3 which has been holding up better than most had expected. Another 40% fall would give the teen superstars $5.5M for the weekend and push the total to $85M.
LAST YEAR: A different type of animated film topped the charts as the actioner Beowulf debuted at number one with $27.5M for Paramount. Co-starring Angelina Jolie, the period pic went on to capture $82.2M. The studio’s kidpic Bee Movie from DreamWorks dropped a notch to second with $14M in its third frame and was followed by fellow holdovers American Gangster with $12.9M and Fred Claus with $11.9M. Fox saw a disappointing fifth place bow for the Dustin Hoffman vehicle Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium which grossed $9.6M on its way to just $32.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com