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Weekend Box Office: ‘Skyfall’ Scores Best James Bond Opening Ever; ‘Lincoln’ Smashes In Limited Release

Weekend Box Office: 'Skyfall' Scores Best James Bond Opening Ever; 'Lincoln' Smashes In Limited Release

Casino Royale” proved to be the highest grossing Bond film of all time with $594 million in receipts worldwide six years ago. Will “Skyfall” beat that record within three week of its domestic bow? After wrecking international crowds with $320 million as of last Wednesday (becoming the biggest Bond in U.K. history), this massive first weekend American gross of $87.8 million bumped “Skyfall” numbers over $500 million today. That’s $518 million in 17 days for the best November debut for a film that’s not a ‘Potter‘ or ‘Twilight‘ film. Not too shabby.

This opening obliterates the franchise record set by “Quantum Of Solace,” which collected $67 million worth of spy-lovers’ cash four years ago. Word of mouth is decidedly stronger for “Skyfall” than ‘Solace,’ and with a more expansive international market and a lower budget compared to its predecessors, “Skyfall” will likely become the most successful film in the series by a very wide margin. The franchise plateaued in the Pierce Brosnan period of the late nineties and early aughts, consistently settling for crossing the $100 million mark. But the universal praise for the Daniel Craig era, coupled with the stronger international possibilities, have shot Bond to near the top of film franchise supremacy. Fifty years after “Dr. No,” fans still can’t get enough of this misogynist globe-trotting imperialist fantasy of another era, but Carly Simon said it best — nobody does it better.

It was a not-bad drop for “Wreck-It Ralph,” which should pass $100 million domestic by midweek. While the picture scored the biggest opening for a non-Pixar Disney animation offering, that branch has settled for hitting doubles while other studios have hit home runs, and ‘Ralph’ isn’t likely to approach the robust numbers of DreamWorks’ “Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted” ($730 million) or Fox’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift” ($872 million). Heck, even with that opening ‘Ralph’ may struggle to approach the final tally of “Tangled,” which landed at $590 million. The studio will take these numbers, and hope, with reasonable odds, that the film will level off and produce stronger holds in coming weeks as the top kiddie attraction of the season.

Paramount continued its mini-wide release of “Flight,” which registered spectacular numbers in less than 2000 theaters last weekend. Perhaps the thought was to leverage the picture’s possibly-limited appeal with strategic theater placement, as the second weekend dip comes even with the film stretching into 2,047 locations. It’s not a bad hold, and strong Cinemascore ratings and supportive critical notices will likely find it hanging on solidly for more weeks to come. Undoubtedly, Denzel Washington has another solid hit on his hands, particularly with this picture reportedly coming in at a $30 million cost, and as nominations and critics groups start start handing out awards, “Flight” may manage even more legs.

Argo” continues to be a major word-of-mouth hit, holding steady after five weeks. By next weekend it will likely surpass director Ben Affleck’s last picture, “The Town.” Surprisingly not far behind, and completing its unprecedented sixth weekend in the top five is “Taken 2,” which rage-punched its way past the $130 million mark, and is actually beginning to approach the domestic tally of the first picture. A sequel of distinctly lesser quality nearly matching the original picture stateside is rare, though “Taken 2” has already smashed the first film’s tally overseas by a significant margin. This is a franchise, people, and even though you laughed when the title “Taken 2” appeared in a trailer, the irony dollars you paid to see this followup are just regular dollars to Fox.

Taking a strong third week tumble is “Cloud Atlas,” benefiting from very little mainstream product being released the last couple of weeks. Though there was a complex release scheme for this film through Warner Bros., one more heavily dependent on foreign receipts, there’s no doubt some people are losing money on this experiment, putting into question the bankability of “The Matrix” directors The Wachowski siblings. Then again, it’s Hollywood, everyone’s always one big hit away from the A-List, and the directing duo will always have options as long as “The Matrix” remains on their resume.

Like a zombie with a death twitch, “Here Comes The Boom” continues to hang around the bottom half of the top ten, its fifth week straight of moderate-to-strong holds. It’s looking like it will finish well below Kevin James’ last vehicle, “The Zookeeper,” and that was also considered an underperformer. But as this picture nears $40 million, it certainly outdoes the piddling final tally for last fall’s “Warrior” ($23 million worldwide) also set amidst the backdrop of the MMA world. While there has yet to be a genuine MMA blockbuster, this film’s final gross suggests studios may still attempt to make a genuine crowd-pleasing mixed martial arts film.

Did you know “Pitch Perfect” was still playing? In its seventh weekend, the film posted the strongest hold in the top ten, and the starless teen musical is just about to hop over the $60 million mark, which few could have foreseen. Could this be the new “Bring It On,” with a number of in-name-only direct-to-DVD sequels? A generation of slumber parties awaits your answer, Hollywood. Taking a knockout punch to the solar plexus was “The Man With The Iron Fists,” which will likely limp to $15 million domestically before it’s done, while “Hotel Transylvania” enjoys its last weekend in the top ten. The latter already has a sequel planned for 2015, and will soon sit proudly as the highest grossing Sony Animation film of all-time.

It only took eleven theaters for “Lincoln” to threaten the top ten, but here we are. Steven Spielberg’s sepia-tinged history lesson nearly cracked the list with a ridiculous $950k, an average of just a little over $86k. Disney isn’t messing around with this one: expect strong results as well when “Lincoln” opens wide next weekend, where its only competition will be some tacky mid-budgeted vampire movie that no one really wants to see anyway.

1. Skyfall (Sony/MGM) – $88 million
2. Irresponsible Damage Ralph (Disney) – $31.5 million ($92 mil.)
3. Budweiser Presents: Flight (Paramount) – $15 million ($48 mil.)
4. Argo (Warner Bros.) – $6.7 million ($86 mil.)
5. Taken 2 Tha Streets (Fox) – $4.1 million ($131 mil.)
6. Sky Wiki (Warner Bros.) – $2.7 million ($23 mil.)
7. Here Comes The Boomstick (Sony) – $2.6 million ($39 mil.)
8. Pitch Perfect (Universal) – $2.5 million ($59 mil.)
9. The Movie With The Glass Jaw (Universal) – $2.4 million ($13 mil.)
10. Hotel Transylvania (Sony) – $2.1 million ($140 mil.)

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