Weekend Box Office (November 9 - 11, 2012)
THIS WEEKEND After destroying box office records around the world, the globe-trotting superspy James Bond finally arrives in North America in the new action adventure Skyfall which will easily top the domestic charts as the worldwide cume shatters the $400M mark and approaches the half-billion-dollar level. The Sony franchise release marks the third picture for Daniel Craig who starred in the 2006 reboot Casino Royale which debuted to $40.8M as well as the followup Quantum of Solace which bowed to $67.5M in 2008. Six of the last seven Bond films were mid-November openers. Casino's good will helped Quantum open much bigger. But Solace was poorly received by many and that could take some fans out of the picture for this new installment.
But there are other factors that should make up for any dropouts on Skyfall. It's been a long four years in between chapters which is unorthodox for the series especially when there is no change in leading man so moviegoers will be ready for a new adventure. Critical and commercial success from the rest of the world - where it amassed a huge $287M in just ten days - is helping buzz here. American critics have been giving high marks and even the skyfalling stunt at the Olympics with Bond and the Queen got some chatter going. And being the only new wide release this weekend will add to the success.
Skyfall brings back Judi Dench and adds Javier Bardem as the villain with Sam Mendes taking over the director's chair. The collection of Oscar winners coming together ups the quality of the product which in turn will lead to better business. Audiences want big-time entertainment from a popular brand right now. In fact since The Dark Knight Rises opened in July, there has been only one action movie to debut above $40M - Taken 2. So ticket buyers are ready for Skyfall and as usual, the marketing blitz has been unstoppable with Sony's own push (including an election night ad blitz this week) along with high-brow brands kicking in cross-promotional dollars to hit up fans from every angle.
IMAX got the fun started early thanks to those screens opening today, one day before conventional screens. TV spots have not advertised the earlier Thursday date very well so that could be a missed opportunity, but overall moviegoers should find this brand worth paying extra for on those large-format screens. Launching in over 3,400 total locations, Skyfall might come away with about $76M by the end of the weekend.
Steven Spielberg and Daniel-Day Lewis have been on the campaign trail for a long time now and will finally get to take it to the people this weekend with Friday's platform release of the historical drama Lincoln. The well-reviewed film only opens in 11 theaters in an attempt to establish itself as a hot ticket with older Americans and history buffs as it waits for the Skyfall juggernaut to lose some steam over the next week. The wide break is set for November 16 against the new Twilight, which will skew towards the opposite demographic. Disney is releasing the DreamWorks production and has the long-term goal of getting in the Oscar race making for a long-term box office run that could snowball into a sizable final gross.
Last weekend's biggest winner was Disney's 3D animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph which has been scoring points with audiences all week and generating strong buzz. A good second weekend hold is likely and school closures on Monday for the observed Veterans Day holiday will certainly help out Sunday business. A 35% slide could occur giving the video game bad guy about $32M for the frame and an impressive $94M over the first ten days.
Denzel Washington's hit drama Flight took off with a stellar average last weekend playing like a 3,000-theater film despite bowing in under 1,900 sites. Mid-week business has been good however Bond will steal away a lot of available older adults. Still, an encouraging 40% slip may result putting the Paramount title at roughly $15M and a ten-day cume of $48M.
Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.
LAST YEAR The 3D historical action epic Immortals opened in first place with a muscular $32.2M for Relativity on its way to $83.5M from North America and $227M worldwide. Future Razzie champ Jack and Jill debuted in second place with $25M for Adam Sandler and Sony on its way to $74.2M. The hit toon Puss in Boots dropped to a close third after two weeks on top and grossed $24.7M followed by the action-comedy Tower Heist with $12.8M in its sophomore frame. Clint Eastwood's biopic J. Edgar opened in fifth with $11.2M and found its way to just $37.3M for Warner Bros.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: November 8, 2012 at 11:45AM ET
Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.