WINNER OF THE WEEK: Bond, James Bond. Skyfall lived up to its hype, setting a record for the 50-year-old franchise with a debut estimated at $87.8 million. Strong reviews and positive word-of-mouth joined half a century of fan goodwill to generate the biggest opening ever for an 007 movie (even adjusting for inflation). For what it's worth, it's also the biggest-ever November opening for a movie that doesn't have "Twilight" or "Harry Potter" in the title. Skyfall also earned a similar amount (an estimated $89 million) in all the overseas territories where it has already been playing for a few weeks, for a total to date of more than a half-billion dollars. That license to kill is also a license to print money.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Nobody. Well, you can't lose if you don't play, and nobody went up against Skyfall with a new wide-release movie this week. Last week's holdovers, however, did very well, too. The rest of the top five movies weathered modest declines of about 30 to 40 percent from last week's business. Wreck-It Ralph, last week's champ, continued to own the family audience. It slipped to second place with estimated earnings of $33.1 million, for a two-weekend total of $93.7 million. The Denzel Washington drama Flight stayed aloft in third place with an estimated $15.1 million, bringing its 10-day total to $47.8 million. In its fifth week, Argo grabbed another estimated $6.4 million for a total of $85.7 million so far. And Taken 2 took another estimated $4.0 million, good for fifth place and a six-week total of $131.3 million. If there were any losers, maybe they were Cloud Atlas and The Man With the Iron Fists, which both earned about $2.5 million and nearly fell off the charts. But then, they were specialty pictures that were never going to compete well against wide-release mainstream films. They deserve credit just for trying to play on the same field.
OTHER THAN THAT, MRS. LINCOLN…: "Went to see Lincoln," tweeted film funnyman Albert Brooks the other day. "Only seats left were in the balcony. Passed." Okay, he was kidding, but it's true that most screenings of Steven Spielberg's biopic were all but sold out. The movie, featuring Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar-baiting performance as the 16th president, opened on just 11 screens but it earned an estimated $900,000, for a per-screen average of $81,818. That's a huge number, the third-biggest per-screen average of the year (behind The Master and Moonrise Kingdom), suggesting Lincoln should sell well when it opens wide next weekend. Even if you're creeped out about sitting in the mezzanine to watch Lincoln, you may not have much choice.
Last Week: 'Wreck-It Ralph' Shatters Disney Record