James Bond Seduces North America
By John Hamann
November 11, 2012
If the last couple of weekends are any indication, and with foreknowledge of what’s going to happen next weekend, this is going to be one fine holiday season for the box office nerd in your life. The latest James Bond flick Skyfall did the opposite of its title at the box office, reaching new heights for a 007 entry. Quantum of Solace this is not, as Daniel Craig and company rack up $87.8 million from the first three days of Skyfall’s domestic run.
With the Wreck-It Ralph/Flight debuts last weekend and with teens already in line for Twilight: Give Us Your Money Part 2 next weekend, Skyfall needed to perform in this frame for Sony and MGM - and it did. With James Bond looking more and more like Jason Bourne these days, Skyfall popped this weekend, filling the void that opened after Matt Damon left Universal’s ultra-successful spy franchise (Bond Legacy is a title I get; Bourne Legacy, no way).
Skyfall opened to IMAX previews on Thursday, earning $2.2 million from 463 screens. I didn’t even know Skyfall was doing previews, so I would call these word-of-mouth screenings that people paid to see rather than attending for free. Skyfall was number one on Thursday despite appearing on 3,289 fewer screens than the number two film on Thursday, Wreck-It Ralph. Friday was a golden day, and as BOP’s David Mumpower reported yesterday, Skyfall had the biggest day in Bond history, earning $30.8 million from 3,505 venues. The former biggest was the $27 million that Quantum of Solace earned on opening day (before it started Skyfalling). The weekend proper came in at a franchise-record $87.8 million, good for a venue average of $25,050. Ladies and gents, it may seem early, but the holiday season is upon us.
With Skyfall, Sony and MGM were seeking to expand the core audience of the James Bond world. That core audience was evident in the last two films where both the very good Casino Royale and the highly questionable Quantum of Solace finished with very similar domestic results, despite a large range in opening weekends. Casino Royale was the reboot. It opened to $40.8 million in November of 2006, and finished with $167.4 million at the domestic box office. It had an opening-to-total multiplier of 4.1, a very good score. Quantum of Solace came out two years later and much too quickly. It opened to $67.5 million on the strength of Casino Royale, but was the lesser film. It had an opening-to-total multiplier of only 2.5 (horrible for November) and finished with $169.4 million, almost exactly the same amount as Casino Royale.
Skyfall, which is 93% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, brings us back to the quality displayed with Casino Royale (95% fresh at RT), and Sony didn’t waste any time letting us know. Extremely strong early reviews have been around for weeks and have been water-cooler talk, which is highly valuable in the movie marketing world, especially prior to release. Then there is the typical Bond marketing, which is always top notch. Skyfall took this to a new level, using Daniel Craig himself in some entertaining Heineken ads. While you may have seen the ads, there is more to the Heineken story. The beer maker actually paid for Bond to drink its product in the film, paying $44.5 million in US dollars to see their product on screen and then tie it into their marketing. That single example of onscreen advertising paid for almost a third of the overall production budget, which some say was $150 million. And who knows - add the car, computer and clothes, and Sony may have funded half their movie.