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story.lead_photo.caption Daniel Craig brought James Bond back to the big screen in the spy thriller Skyfall. The movie came in No. 1 at the box office, and made more than $88 million.

— James Bond’s Skyfall has extended its worldwide box-office rule to North America, hauling in a franchise-record $88.3 million in its first weekend at U.S. theaters.

Adding in $2.2 million from the Nov. 8 previews at IMAX and other large-format theaters, Skyfall has taken in $90 million domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That lifts the worldwide total for Skyfall to $518.6 million since it began rolling out overseas in late October. Internationally, the 23rd Bond flick added $89 million last weekend to raise its overseas revenue to $428.6 million.

The third installment starring Daniel Craig as British super-spy Bond, Skyfall outdid the $67.5 million U.S. debut of 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the franchise’s previous best opening. Skyfall more than doubled the $40.8 million debut of Craig’s first Bond film, 2006’s Casino Royale.

Skyfall already has passed the $407.7 million overseas total for Quantum of Solace.

Skyfall was the weekend’s only new wide release, but Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had a huge start in a handful of theaters. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, Lincoln took in about $944,000 in 11 theaters for a whopping average of $85,846 a cinema. By comparison, Skyfall averaged $25,211 in 3,505 theaters.

Lincoln centers on the months leading up to the president’s assassination in April 1865, as he maneuvers to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery and end the Civil War. Distributor Disney will expand Lincoln into nationwide release of about 1,600 theaters Friday and may widen the film further over Thanksgiving week.

The film has strong Academy Awards prospects for two-time directing winner Spielberg, two-time acting recipient Day-Lewis and the rest of the cast, which includes Oscar winners Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

Skyfall took over the top spot at the weekend box office from Disney’s animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph, which fell to No. 2 with $33 million, raising its domestic total to $93.6 million.

While Skyfall marked a new high for Bond’s opening-weekend revenue, the film has a long way to go to match the biggest audiences 007 has ever drawn. Adjusted for inflation, Sean Connery’s 1965 Bond adventure Thunderball would have taken in an estimated $508 million domestically in today’s dollars, with its 1964 predecessor (and vastly superior) Goldfinger not far behind at $444 million, according to box-office tracker

Still, Craig’s Bond is setting a new critical standard for the franchise. While Quantum of Solace had a soso critical reception, Skyfall and Casino Royale are among the best-reviewed Bond films, with critics and fans enjoying the darker edge Craig has imprinted on 007.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind American Beauty and Craig’s director on Road to Perdition, Skyfall continues the current franchise’s exploration into the emotional traumas that have shaped Bond’s cool, aloof manner.

The film reveals secrets out of the past of Bond’s boss, British spymaster M (Judi Dench), and pits 007 against a brilliant but unstable former agent (Javier Bardem) who’s out for revenge.

MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 11/16/2012

Print Headline: Skyfall rises above competition

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