Craig…Daniel Craig. The actor is now responsible for the biggest James Bond opening as Quantum of Solace (Sony) has followed spectacular overseas openings with a monstrous $27M opening day in the US. That is about 30% better than the previous best single day for a Bond film.

ALL-TIME BEST SINGLE DAY GROSSES FOR THE 007 FRANCHISE
1. Friday, November 14, 2008 – Quantum of Solace – $27M (estimated)
2. Saturday, November 23, 2002 – Die Another Day – $19M
3. Friday, November 22, 2002 – Die Another Day – $16.6M
4. Friday, November 18, 2006 – Casino Royale – $15.4M
5. Friday, November 17, 2006 – Casino Royale – $14.7M

That will possibly translate to a $71.5M opening weekend, 75% better than Craig’s first outing, 2006’s Casino Royale ($40.8M), and up 52% from the all-time best Bond opening, 2002’s Die Another Day ($47M opening).

Sony’s decision to reboot the 007 franchise, after Pierce Brosnan’s Die Another Day became the biggest Bond movie ever with $167M domestic, was aggressive and inspired. Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and then, later, Oscar winner Paul Haggis (Crash) faithfully adapted Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale and the quickly-approaching-50 Brosnan “got the hint” and “stepped down” from the role. The filmmakers wanted a younger, tougher, grittier 007 instead of the lightweight, foppish version of the character created by the former Remington Steele star.

Daniel Craig formally accepted the Bond “crown” at an October 2005 press conference and Martin Campbell signed on to direct, and the result was a reinvention of the franchise. Not everyone loved the idea. In fact, a pro-Brosnan website called DanielCraigisnotBond.com was started as a means to protest, and it is online to this day. The proprietors of this website may be responsible for the most misguided and ineffective boycott in the history of entertainment.

As I wrote Thursday, I believe that Quantum of Solace will be the first James Bond film to crack $200M domestic, and the worldwide box office could reach a staggering $700M. This film will have no competition for adult audiences next weekend with only Bolt and Twilight opening, and Quantum will demonstrate excellent “playability” well past Thanksgiving.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Dreamworks/Paramount) has started its 2nd weekend solidly with an estimated $8.7M Friday, and it will likely reach $35.6M for the 3-day. That would make for a 10-day cume of $117.5M, and Mad 2 has a real chance at becoming the biggest grossing non-Shrek movie in Dreamworks Animation history.

David Wain’s Role Models (Universal) is holding well, adding $3.65M Friday. The R-rated comedy has a shot at $10.77M or so, representing just a 44% drop, which will be enough for 3rd place for the frame. Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (Universal) is a probable 4th with almost $5.5M by Monday morning and a new cume of $28.8M. I expect High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) to round out the top 5 with just under $4.5M for the weekend.
SATURDAY 12:00 p.m. (Pacific): Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Dreamworks/Paramount) came in at $8.1M for its 2nd Friday, lower than the $8.7M I projected last night.

My revised 3-day number for Mad 2 is $33.2M, which is very good, but that would represent 47% dip from last weekend’s meteoric $61M start. On dynamic to watch today is the effect of those 840 or so sneak previews of Bolt (Disney), many in 3D. That could conceivably take a bite out of Madagascar’s Saturday, and it will definitely boost Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney). After managing just $295,000 on Friday, the long-running Chihuahua could finish the frame with as much as $2.36M.

Even with the lower projection for Escape 2 Africa, its 10-day cume would still be a spectacular $115M. That would give it the all-time 4th-best opening 10 days for an animated movie not released in the Summer or for a holiday weekend.

ALL-TIME TOP 10 TEN GROSSES FOR ANIMATED NON-SUMMER SEASON/NON-HOLIDAY RELEASES
1. The Incredibles – $143.2M
2. Ice Age: The Meltdown – $115.75M
3. Monsters, Inc. – $122.1M
4. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $115M (projected)
5. Shark Tale – $87.3M
6. Ice Age – $87.2M
7. Dr. Suess’ Horton Hears A Who – $86M
8. Happy Feet – $99.2M
9. Chicken Little – $80.4
10. Bee Movie – $71.7M

Dreamworks has to be thrilled. After 2 weekends, Madagascar 2 will be up 60% from where last November’s Bee Movie was at the same point. Mad 2’s 10-day gross is also up 15% from the original Madagascar, which had banked $100.3M after 10 days, and that was a Memorial Day release. With Thanksgiving coming up, I am now more certain than ever that Escape 2 Africa will become the all-time biggest non-Shrek movie from Dreamworks Animation.

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS REVISED FRIDAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW – Quantum of Solace (Sony) – $27M, $7,824PTA, $27M cume
2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $8.1M, $1,993 PTA, $89.9M cume
3. Role Models (Universal) – $3.76M, $1,345 PTA, $30.1M cume
4. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) — $1.32M, $414 PTA, $79.8M cume
5. Changeling (Universal) — $1.23M, $650 PTA, $24.6M cume
6. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Weinstein) — $1.07M, $484 PTA, $24.3M cume
7. Soul Men (MGM) – $690,000, $337 PTA, $7.7M cume
8. The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) — $655,000, $452 PTA, $31.9M cume
9. Saw V (Lionsgate) — $565,000, $282 PTA, $54.1M cume
10. The Haunting of Molly Hartley (Freestyle) – $500,000, $315 PTA, $11.5M cume
11. Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $465,000, $383 PTA, $97.7M cume
12. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) – $295,000, $182 PTA, $89.5M cume

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY 3-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW – Quantum of Solace (Sony) – $71.55M, $20,733PTA, $71.55M cume
2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $33.21M, $8,170 PTA, $115M cume
3. Role Models (Universal) – $11.1M, $3,967 PTA, $37.5M cume
4. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) — $4.77M, $1,490 PTA, $83.2M cume
5. Changeling (Universal) — $4.22M, $2,229 PTA, $27.6M cume
6. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Weinstein) — $3.26M, $1,477 PTA, $26.5M cume
7. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) – $2.36M, $1,459 PTA, $91.6M cume
8. The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) — $2.33M, $1,609 PTA, $33.6M cume
9. Soul Men (MGM) – $2.17M, $1,061 PTA, $9.1M cume
10. Saw V (Lionsgate) — $1.72M, $861 PTA, $55.3M cume
11. Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $1.53M, $1,264 PTA, $98.8M cume
12. The Haunting of Molly Hartley (Freestyle) – $1.5M, $945 PTA, $12.5M cume

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