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Bond soars with record Skyfall debut

LOS ANGELES — James Bond’s Skyfall has extended its worldwide box-office rule to North America, hauling in a franchise-record $87.8 million in its first weekend at U.S. theatres.

Adding in $2.2 million from Thursday night previews at IMAX and other large-format theatres, Skyfall has taken in $90 million domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That lifts the worldwide total for Skyfall to $518.6 million since it began rolling out overseas in late October. Internationally, the 23rd Bond flick added $89 million this weekend to raise its overseas revenue to $428.6 million.

The third installment starring Daniel Craig as British super-spy Bond, Skyfall outdid the $67.5 million U.S. debut of 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the franchise’s previous best opening. Skyfall more than doubled the $40.8 million debut of Craig’s first Bond film, 2006’s Casino Royale.

Skyfall already has passed the $407.7 million overseas total for Quantum of Solace and by today, it will top the $432.2 million international haul for Casino Royale.

The Craig era has reinvigorated one of Hollywood’s most-enduring franchises, whose first big-screen Bond adventure, Dr. No, debuted 50 years ago.

“It’s quite a testament to Bond, considering it’s the 50th anniversary. What a great anniversary present,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, which produces the Bond films along with MGM.

Skyfall was the weekend’s only new wide release, but Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had a huge start in a handful of theatres. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president,

Lincoln took in $900,000 in 11 theatres for a whopping average of $81,818 a cinema. By comparison, Skyfall averaged $25,050 in 3,505 theatres.

Lincoln centres on the months leading up to the president’s assassination in April 1865, as he manoeuvrs to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery and end the Civil War. Distributor Disney will expand Lincoln into nationwide release of about 1,600 theatres Friday and may widen the film further over Thanksgiving week.

The film has strong Academy Awards prospects for two-time directing winner Spielberg, two-time acting recipient Day-Lewis and the rest of the cast, which includes Oscar winners Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

“The performances are some of the greatest of recent time,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. “I don’t know if you’re ever going to think about it again without seeing our actor as Lincoln. Daniel is extraordinary in the role.”

Skyfall took over the top spot at the weekend box office from Disney’s animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph, which fell to No. 2 with $33.1 million, raising its domestic total to $93.7 million.

While Skyfall marked a new high for Bond’s opening-weekend revenue, the film has a long way to go to match the biggest audiences 007 has ever drawn. Adjusted for inflation, Sean Connery’s 1965 Bond adventure Thunderball would have taken in an estimated $508 million domestically in today’s dollars, with its 1964 predecessor Goldfinger not far behind at $444 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

For the year, domestic revenues are at $9.1 billion, up 4.3 per cent from 2011’s, according to Hollywood.com.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. Skyfall, $87.8 million.

2. Wreck-It Ralph, $33.1 million.

3. Flight, $15.1 million.

4. Argo, $6.7 million.

5. Taken 2, $4 million.

6. Here Comes the Boom, $2.6 million

7. Cloud Atlas, $2.53 million.

8. Pitch Perfect, $2.5 million.

9. The Man with the Iron Fists, $2.49 million.

10. Hotel Transylvania, $2.4 million.

 
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