Various people are tossing around the Batman Begins/Dark Knight comparison for the Quantum Of Solace's $27 million opening day and $71 million opening weekend. But the real point of comparison, as I predicted two years ago, is that of the Bourne series (I'm not saying I'm a genius, I just did the math right). The Batman comparison only works if you factor in the whole 5-day opening of Batman Begins (and by that rationale, the uptick between Pirates 1 and Pirates 2 fits like a glove too). Both of those respective sequels basically tripled the three-day opening weekend grosses of their respective originals.
If you deal with Casino Royale as a 'first in the series', then the comparison fits perfectly and James Bond and Jason Bourne are now identical in box office performance, as well as (allegedly) thematic presentation. I say allegedly, since a family emergency has prevented me from Quantum Of Solace yet (and also explains the lack of a box office bingo column yesterday). The Bourne Identity opened to a solid $27 million back in June, 2002. It played all summer long, eventually taking in $122 million and becoming one of the most rented titles of the year on video and DVD. So we have a solid but not spectacular opening, which buoyed good word of mouth and solid reviews into an extended play period. So, two years later, The Bourne Supremacy capitalized on that exceptional audience goodwill, also helped by superior reviews, to open to a colossal $52 million in July of 2004. That was a stunning 1.9x increase in opening weekends, almost doubled.
So let's apply that number to Casino Royale. Casino Royale rode a wave of free publicity ('come see the bad-ass new James Bond!) and exceptionally positive reviews to a $40.8 million opening weekend. Of course, not only was that not the biggest Bond opening of all time (Die Another Day did $47 million back in November 2002), but it wasn't even number 01 for the weekend. If we recall, the dancing penguins/acid trip environmental fable Happy Feet was number one that weekend with $41.5 million. Fun fact - Casino Royale ended with $167 million - which is the 7th highest grossing film never to be number 01 at the weekend box office.
Although it opened smaller than Die Another Day, it rode incredible word of mouth to a leggy theatrical performance, also capitalizing on a less than mighty holiday season (only Night At The Museum had any firepower after Thanksgiving weekend) and slightly out grossed Die Another Day domestically (globally, it was a massacre, as it made $426 million overseas). And, yet again, the film became incredibly popular on DVD and the brand-new BluRay technology. It was the biggest selling BluRay disc at the time (and came packaged with many a bundle promotion). So, two years later, history repeats itself. Since Quantum Of Solace pulled in $71 million, the sequel uptick is 1.775x. It's not exact, but it's certainly a closer comparison than the Pirates' sequel 3.14x uptick and Batman's 3.23x jump between films.
As for long term prospects, I can only say that, once again, the box office will be a near tent-pole dead zone after Thanksgiving weekend (the three big November films remaining are Bolt, Twilight, and Australia). Only The Day The Earth Stood Still qualifies as an adult December 'big event picture', and that's still a month away. Once again, the only major films around Christmas is a star vehicle family film involving fantasy come to life (Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories), and a Will Smith drama (Seven Pounds - same director as The Pursuit Of Happyness). Everything else is either mid-range genre films (The Spirit, Four Christmases), or Oscar bait (Doubt, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button). Valkyrie is allegedly pretty good, so it could target the same audience, but it doesn't open until Christmas Day.
So unless Quantum Of Solace turns off audiences with its hyper editing and alleged lack of plot and character, it will likely become the first 007 film to cross the $200 million mark domestically. And yes, it also has an outside chance of out grossing The Dark Knight in overseas box office. The Dark Knight is about to cross $1billion worldwide, but that's pretty much a 50/50 split. Considering Quantum Of Solace has already made $160 million overseas in the first 10 days, beating The Dark Knight's $469 million overseas take should be almost easy.
We'll see. If anything shocking happens tomorrow, I'll update accordingly. And I'll be sure to fill you in when I actually see the bloody picture!
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