Bond soars with record $87.8M 'Skyfall' debut

Published: Monday | November 12, 2012 Comments 0
This film image released by Sony Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond, left, and Judi Dench as MI6 head M, in a scene from the film 'Skyfall'. Dench has been the Bond matriarch: the strong-willed, no-nonsense mainstay of feminine authority in a movie franchise that has, more often than not, featured slightly more superficial womanly traits. In 'Skyfall', Dench isn't just dictating orders from headquarters, but is thrown directly into the action when a former MI6 agent, played by Javier Bardem, is bent on revenge against her. - AP
This film image released by Sony Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond, left, and Judi Dench as MI6 head M, in a scene from the film 'Skyfall'. Dench has been the Bond matriarch: the strong-willed, no-nonsense mainstay of feminine authority in a movie franchise that has, more often than not, featured slightly more superficial womanly traits. In 'Skyfall', Dench isn't just dictating orders from headquarters, but is thrown directly into the action when a former MI6 agent, played by Javier Bardem, is bent on revenge against her. - AP

LOS ANGELES (AP)

James Bond's Skyfall has extended its worldwide box-office rule to North America, hauling in a franchise-record $87.8 million in its first weekend at US theatres.

Adding in $2.2 million from Thursday night previews at IMAX and other large-format theatres, Skyfall has taken in $90 million domestically, according to studio estimates yesterday.

That lifts the worldwide total for Skyfall to $518.6 million since it began rolling out overseas in late October. Internationally, the 23rd Bond flick added $89 million this weekend to raise its overseas revenue to $428.6 million.

The third instalment starring Daniel Craig as British super-spy Bond, Skyfall outdid the $67.5 million US debut of 2008's Quantum of Solace, the franchise's previous best opening. Skyfall more than doubled the $40.8 million debut of Craig's first Bond film, 2006's Casino Royale.

Skyfall already has passed the $407.7 million overseas total for Quantum of Solace and by Monday, it will top the $432.2 million international haul for Casino Royale.

50th anniversary present

The Craig era has reinvigorated one of Hollywood's most-enduring franchises, whose first big-screen Bond adventure, Dr No, debuted 50 years ago.

"It's quite a testament to Bond, considering it's the 50th anniversary. What a great anniversary present," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, which produces the Bond films along with MGM.

Skyfall was the weekend's only new wide release, but Steven Spielberg's Lincoln had a huge start in a handful of theatres. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, Lincoln took in $900,000 in 11 theatres for a whopping average of $81,818 a cinema. By comparison, Skyfall averaged $25,050 a cinema in 3,505 theatres.

Lincoln centres on the months leading up to the president's assassination in April 1865, as he manoeuvres to pass the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolishing slavery and ending the Civil War. Distributor Disney will expand Lincoln into nation-wide release of about 1,600 theatres Friday, and may widen the film further over the Thanksgiving holiday week later this month.

The film has strong Academy Awards prospects for two-time directing winner Spielberg, two-time acting recipient Day-Lewis and the rest of the cast, which includes Oscar winners Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

"The performances are some of the greatest of recent time," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. "I don't know if you're ever going to think about it again without seeing our actor as Lincoln. Daniel is extraordinary in the role."

Skyfall took over the top spot at the weekend box office from Disney's animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph, which fell to No 2 with $33.1 million, raising its domestic total to $93.7 million.

While Skyfall marked a new high for Bond's opening-weekend revenue, the film has a long way to go to match the biggest audiences 007 has ever drawn. Adjusted for inflation, Sean Connery's 1965 Bond adventure Thunderball would have taken in an estimated $508 million domestically in today's dollars, with its 1964 predecessor Goldfinger not far behind at $444 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

The Bond films over the last two decades have come in around the $200 million range domestically in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Still, Craig's Bond is setting a new critical standard for the franchise. While Quantum of Solace had a so-so critical reception, Skyfall and Casino Royale are among the best-reviewed Bond films, with critics and fans enjoying the darker edge Craig has imprinted on 007.

"Skyfall is to the Bond franchise what The Dark Knight was to the Batman franchise," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "By taking it to a whole other level, this is a different kind of Bond that can be taken really seriously."

Emotional traumas

Directed by Sam Mendes, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind American Beauty, and Craig's director on Road to Perdition, Skyfall continues the current franchise's exploration into the emotional traumas that have shaped Bond's cool, aloof manner.

The film reveals secrets out of the past of Bond's boss, British spymaster M (Judi Dench), and pits 007 against a brilliant but unstable former agent (Javier Bardem) who is out for revenge.

Hollywood remains on a brisk pace this fall as the busy holiday season approaches. Overall domestic revenues totalled $172 million, up 26 per cent from the same weekend last year, when Immortals led with $32.2 million.

For the year, domestic revenues are at $9.1 billion, up 4.3 per cent from 2011's, according to Hollywood.com.

Here are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US, and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com:

1. Skyfall, $87.8 million.

2. Wreck-It Ralph, $33.1 million.

3. Flight, $15.1 million.

4. Argo, $6.7 million.

5. Taken 2, $4 million.

6. Here Comes the Boom, $2.6 million

7. Cloud Atlas, $2.53 million.

8. Pitch Perfect, $2.5 million.

9. The Man with the Iron Fists, $2.49 million.

10. Hotel Transylvania, $2.4 million.



Full Caption: This film image released by Sony Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond, left, and Judi Dench as MI6 head M, in a scene from the film 'Skyfall'. Dench has been the Bond matriarch: the strong-willed, no-nonsense mainstay of feminine authority in a movie franchise that has, more often than not, featured slightly more superficial womanly traits. In 'Skyfall', Dench isn't just dictating orders from headquarters, but is thrown directly into the action when a former MI6 agent, played by Javier Bardem, is bent on revenge against her. - AP

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