Believe the hype. Skyfall, the latest entry in the now 50 year-old James Bond series, is not only as big as everyone said it would be… it’s bigger. Over its first weekend in domestic release, Skyfall took in an estimated $87.8 million from 3,505 locations, or a total of $90 million with Thursday previews included. Not only does that crush Bond’s previous-best opening of $67.5 million, it stands as the fourth-highest debut of the year behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games.
||Here Comes the Boom||$2,550,000||$39|
|9.||The Man w/the Iron Fists||$2,490,000||$12.7|
There was no doubt that the success of Skyfall would be the big story this weekend. The narrative was all but guaranteed after the film opened to historic numbers in the UK and other international territories in late October. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the release followed months of Bond-related events and stories celebrating the franchise’s half-century anniversary. It also helped that the film – the 23rd in the series – received near-universal praise (91% on Rotten Tomatoes and an ‘A’ Cinemascore) from critics and audiences alike.
With its first twenty-two releases alone, the James Bond franchise stood as the third most-profitable tentpole in box office history. With a combined, worldwide total of $1.55 billion, the series was only topped by the $2.39 billion of Harry Potter and the $2.21 billion of the Star Wars films. Today, with worldwide estimates reaching $518.6 million after 17 days, the gap between Star Wars and Bond has grown a lot smaller. Assuming Skyfall continues to perform well, .007 should move into second place in the next few days.
Even with Skyfall so dominant, this weekend’s box office had enough good news to go around. At number two after its first-place debut one week ago, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph remained strong, dropping just 33% for a total just shy of $100 million after ten days. Paramount’s Flight also held steady, falling 39% in its second frame. And, still a player after five weeks in theatres, Argo realized yet another remarkable hold. The film was down 34% this weekend and claimed a new domestic total of $87.7 million. At this point, Argo will certainly pass the $92.1 million of director Ben Affleck’s previous hit, The Town, and a $100 million final gross looks like a real possibility.
Most studios saw Skyfall ‘s success coming – and were smart enough to stay out of its way. Only one new movie came up against the storied super agent – though not in a head-to-head sort of way. Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s heralded bio-pic of America’s sixteenth president, began its platformed release this weekend: eleven theatres in advance of the 1,500 locations booked for next Friday. And, though it came up short of the top ten, Lincoln was every bit as remarkable in limited release as Skyfall was in wide. Lincoln brought in an estimated $900,000 from those eleven dates. That’s an average of over $81,818 per location, compared to Skyfall’s average of just over $25,000.
Lincoln probably needed the boost. After all, stellar reviews don’t mean much when matched against the film scheduled for next weekend. Yes, the day has nearly arrived: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final chapter in the Twilight Saga, is upon us. Skyfall may have made a stir – and helped this weekend’s overall box office top 2011 by a wide margin – but even .007 must bow before the passion of the Twi-hard. One year ago, Breaking Dawn Part 1 pulled in over $138 million in its debut and, if pre-sales are any indication, the box office can expect even more from its follow-up. Here’s hoping James Bond enjoys the spotlight while he can.