'Skyfall' Spies $80M After Exploding for $30M at Box Office Friday
"Skyfall" will shatter the record for the biggest James Bond movie debut ever, after taking in $30.8 million at the box office on Friday.
That's an average of nearly $8,787 from each of the 3,505 theaters that the 23rd film in the 50-year-old 007 franchise is playing on. That could translate to an $80 million weekend. It received an "A" CinemaScore from first-day moviegoers, so word of mouth should be strong on Saturday and Sunday.
"Skyfall" took in an additional $2.2 million from exclusive preview runs at 463 Imax and premium pricing locations on Thursday.
Last week's No. 1 film, Disney's animated family film "Wreck-It Ralph," was No. 2 on Friday, taking in $7.8 million from 3,752 screens. That puts it on track for a $32 million weekend and raises its overall gross to $68.4 million. Those two films are driving the overall box office, which is running roughly 20 percent ahead of the comparable weekend last year, when "The Immortals" led the way with $32 million.
If it stays on this pace, the PG-13-rated "Skyfall" will easily surpass the debut weekend of "Quantum of Solace," which bowed to $67 million in November of 2008.
The massive bow for "Skyfall" solidifies Daniel Craig's status as the most bankable Bond ever. "Quantum of Solace" grossed $586 million worldwide, while "Casino Royale" topped out at $594 million in 2006. With its overall foreign gross of $325 million built over the past two weeks prior to its U.S. debut, the worldwide total for "Skyfall" is now more than $355 million.
Pent-up demand for Bond -- it's been four years since the last 007 film -- and great reviews clearly motivated moviegoers. Director Sam Mendes has drawn critical raves, as has the supporting cast -- which includes Oscar winners Javier Bardem and Judi Dench -- and the script from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and John Logan ("Gladiator"). Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli produced the film, from Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The Denzel Washington thriller "Flight" brought in $4.2 million from 2,047 theaters Friday and is looking at around $13.8 million for its second weekend, which should be good for third place.
"Argo," Ben Afleck's Iran hostage political thriller, did $1.8 million from 2,763 screens and will finish the three days with $6.2 million. After five weeks, its overall domestic gross is $80 million. Its production budget was $44.5 million.
On the face of it, "Skyfall" and "Lincoln" have little in common when they hit theaters on Friday. One is a high-octane action film expected to garner the biggest box office in the 50-year-history of the James Bond franchise. The other is a talky, slow saga of the country's 16th president that is considered a front-runner in the Academy Awards Best Picture category.
But together they have Hollywood sitting up and taking notice. And with rival studios having cleared out the weekend to avoid Bond's box office, nearly all the attention will be focused on these two films.
"Skyfall," showing at 3,500 theaters, is looking for a $67 million opening weekend, according to Sony, but that's clearly a lowball number. Industry analysts and executives at rival studios say $75 million to $85 million is more likely. And already it's on track to be the first Bond film to crack $600 million overseas.
Blockbuster grosses this weekend aren't the goal for "Lincoln," which will open on just 11 screens. But there will be plenty of attention aimed at DreamWorks' historical drama. An impressive debut would bolster interest in its Nov. 16 nationwide opening and -- perhaps more importantly -- build on its already growing awards-season momentum.
The pedigree of "Lincoln" is impeccable. Produced by three-time Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy on a budget of $65 million, the screenplay was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner ("Angels in America"), who also co-wrote the script for Spielberg's 2005 film "Munich." John Williams, who has five Academy Awards, composed the score.