Weekend Box Office: Skyfall Has Best Opening Ever For A James Bond Film With $87.8 Million

All this time I thought John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. It was actually a time-traveling James Bond!

A general rule is for a sequel to outperform its predecessor, but that’s not always the case. With the original Spider-Man films the series would see a dip in returns for the first sequel, which got some strong critical praise (including appearing on Roger Ebert’s Top 10 list for 2004), before getting a monetary jump with Spider-Man 3. The James Bond franchise, at least since Daniel Craig assumed the mantle, has taken a similar path. His first outing as 007, Casino Royale, proved to be the highest grossing Bond film of all time with $594 million. Its follow-up, Quantum of Solace, came up just shy of that mark with $586 million. I’m not sure producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson could have imagined that the November release of Skyfall would amassed a worldwide total of $518 million in 17 days.

The $87.8 million domestic opening total ($90 million if you count Thursday numbers from IMAX showings) makes Solace‘s $67 million look like small potatoes. Credit that to the four year wait to see James Bond on the big screen again and decidedly strong word of mouth. And with a lower budget (but still a $100-plus million blockbuster production) and a wider release on the international market, and you have a film that will likely become the most successful release in the series fifty year history. It used to be that the Bond series would be happy with just finishing above $100 million in the U.S. Now it’s going to get to a point where the producers won’t be happy unless it makes $200 million in the U.S. and another $600 million worldwide. And they just may get their wish if the rumors of shooting Bond 24 & 25 back-to-back are true.

Last week’s big opener, Wreck-It Ralph, dropped to second place but only suffered a low 32% drop in attendance. By midweek it should surpass $100 million domestic. As the biggest opening for a non-Pixar Disney animated film, it has quite a ways to go if it wants the big boys and finish with numbers that the Madagascar and Ice Age series have achieved of late. And unless the film is an international hit it may struggle to finish with numbers similar to what Tangled achieved back in 2010.

Oscar hopeful Flight saw some expansion its second weekend, popping up in 163 new locations to stretch it past a 2000-theater count, and it held up well in its third place finish. Good word of mouth and critics praising Denzel Washington’s performance have helped to a degree and should continue to do steady business in the weeks to come despite Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln expanding to a wide release and the arrival of Silver Linings Playbook and Hitchcock, all of which appeal to a more grown-up demographic.

Five weeks into its run, Argo continues to be a steady performer for Warner Bros. With $85.7 million it needs just $6.5 million to surpass Ben Affleck’s last feature, The Town. Close behind, and proving that it is hard to keep Liam Neeson down, is Taken 2. The $350 million worldwide blockbuster has completed six weekends in the top five – an almost Herculean feat (or it signals a lack of strong competition). People may have laughed when they saw advertisements proclaiming that a Taken 2 existed, however it is 20th Century Fox that is laughing all the way to the bank with all the money rolling in. It wouldn’t surprise me if for the next installment to be done as Taken 3-D.

While the sky may not have been falling for Skyfall, The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas continues to fall to earth in the weeks following its less than stellar opening. A polarizing film for sure, with a love it or hate it vibe, the independent venture wasn’t a total loss for studio Warner Bros., though I’m sure some investors are having second thoughts on its performance thus far. International numbers will tell that tale when it’s all said and done.

Falling into the “I could have sworn this was already on DVD” category is Here Comes the Boom, which is still maintaining top ten relevance by hanging on near the bottom. Five straight weeks of moderate performance its $39 million gross is a far cry from Paul Blart‘s $146 million or even Zookeeper‘s $80 million. Just because he’s the King of Queens does not mean Kevin James is the King of Hollywood. It’s just sad that this average comedy has outpaced last fall’s Warrior, which could only net a worldwide total of $23 million.

I take it that people are going with Glee withdrawals on TV. That could explain why Pitch Perfect is still playing in theaters and posting the strongest holds of any other non-new release in the top ten. Starring a recent Oscar nominee and the starlet from Prom Night, this college musical is about to surpass $60 million. I knew it would do well as a sleeper hit, I just didn’t know I would be writing about it seven weeks in a row. In what will surely become an instant classic of future girl slumber parties, resting beside the likes of Dirty Dancing, Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Grease, Pitch Perfect may spawn a series of DTV sequels and spin-offs, most likely to feature Jim’s Dad of American Pie infamy despite not being a character in the original film.

Rounding out the top ten we have RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fists and Hotel Transylvania, another film that has been part of the top ten discussion for seven weeks.

There were a few new films that popped up in limited release this weekend but the big story is Lincoln‘s limited opening in 11 theaters. Despite the low number the film almost made $1 million and threatened to be part of the top ten discussion. Steven Spielberg’s history lesson on abolishing slavery will be Disney’s big Oscar push, contending for both technical awards and big ones that are likely to include Picture, Director, Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Supporting Actress (Sally Field), and Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones). The problem is that it’s big opening on November 16th is opposite the last Twilight movie, and last I checked this Lincoln was no Vampire Hunter.

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Source: Box Office Mojo