Quantum of Box Office for Bond
By John Hamann
November 16, 2008
With last year's writers strike affecting this year's pre-holiday movie choices, some belieed we were in for a slower November than usual, especially prior to Thanksgiving. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince picked up and moved to next summer, leaving Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Quantum of Solace, Bolt and Twilight as the only breakout hopes for box office heading into the heady days of the holiday season. We know that Madagascar 2 broke out solidly last weekend, and theater chains were hoping the trend would continue with Quantum of Solace. If that was the case, there could be four big choices for patrons over the Thanksgiving frame. Would Quantum of Solace break out? Would Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa hold despite being a sequel?
Welcome to the big time, Mr. Bond. Yes, Quantum of Solace is our number one film of the weekend, but the size of the opening is going to make headlines through the early part of the week. Quantum of Solace did not just surpass former Bond box office record holder Die Another Day's opening weekend. It obliterated it by opening to a massive $70.4 million. That is a huge jump from the opening of 2006's Casino Royale ($40.8 million), and exceeds the opening of Madagascar 2 - a kids' flick - by several million. Released to 3,451 venues, the 22nd incarnation of Bond had a venue average this weekend of $20,400, again a Bond record. Quantum of Solace becomes the fifth biggest November opening, parking itself behind three Harry Potter flicks and The Incredibles (though Bond might jump to fourth when actuals come in).
Compared to the other top openers in November, this James Bond is truly an adult amongst children. Prior to Quantum, the top ten openers in November were all aimed at the youth set, as they all involved Harry Potter, Pixar, or the Grinch. This is a crowning achievement for Sony, who, after only two pictures, has revolutionized the James Bond franchise with MGM. It's no secret that Bond has already dominated Europe, with an international gross approaching $200 million.
Why did this one work so much better than the previous 21 Bond films? First, let's start with Sony. When the franchise rebooted, MGM brought Sony on as a partner. At that point, the whole idea of Bond changed, and it marked a shift in Bond culture from the old school to the new school. We went from a dapper spy to a brute killer, changing with the times instead of desperately holding onto the Cold War era. With Sony, production values improved, and stunts for the sake of stunts were done away with. Plot became the driver for Bond, and 2006's Casino Royale proved that the new and improved Bond would play solidly with old and new audiences, even if some of the old crowd whined for the good old days. Casino Royale's opening dipped from the last Pierce Brosnan outing, Die Another Day, moving from $47 million for Die to $40 million for Casino Royale. In the end though, fortunes reversed, as Casino Royale outgrossed Die Another Day by about $7 million. The big difference between the films came overseas, as the Daniel Craig version outdid the Pierce Brosnan one by $160 million when Casino Royale's worldwide gross approached $600 million.