Solace Shatters The US Box-Office

James Bond is back and bigger than ever before with “Quantum of Solace” raking in $71 million for its three-day opening weekend. The amount easily shatters the $60M estimates made by the studio, the $40M opening of the previous film “Casino Royale”, and the $47M opening of the previous record holder “Die Another Day” in 2002.

Reviews for the film have been decidedly mixed however with a 66% & 6.3/10 score on Rotten Tomatoes, a 58% & 6.5/10 score on Metacritic, and some really notable strong pans by such notable critics as Roger Ebert and Todd McCarthy. Online forum reaction is equally very divided – many long term fans are citing it as one of the worst of the series, new fans who loved ‘Casino Royale’ are generaly liking it but with reservations, and young action fans who found ‘Royale’ too long and dull seem to quite enjoy it. Most common praise goes to Daniel Craig’s casting, most common criticism is aimed at the Bourne-style quick-cut editing and shooting style and the lack of an engaging storyline.

Clever blitz marketing by Sony and the stellar reaction to ‘Royale’ seem to be the main reason for the much larger opening this time around, and any exec can’t help but adore a $20,400 per screen average on a 3,000+ screen release. The real test however will come next week with the drop-off rate which will tell us how many are going to be coming back for more – will the crowds respond to this as well as they have other films in the franchise? Well-received modern Bond films (“Casino Royale,” “Goldeneye,” “The Living Daylights”) fall about 25-30% in their second outing, badly reviewed ones (“Die Another Day,” “License to Kill,” “A View to a Kill”) drop around 35-42%.

Last week’s newcomers held well, comedy “Role Models” in particular fell just 39% to $11.7 million in its second outing.

The “Madagascar” sequel wasn’t as strong with a still respectable 43% drop and a $36.1 million second weekend. Already at $118M, the film will easily join the $200+M club before the end of the year. It wasn’t all rosy though as the Bernie Mac/Sam Jackson vehicle “Soul Men” had the second steepest fall of the Top Ten with a 55% drop-off to just $2.4 million in its second week.

On the limited release front the only notable performer was critically acclaimed Danny Boyle drama “Slumdog Millionaire” which took in around $160,000 across ten screens – an excellent start that should grow with all the positive word-of-mouth that’s spreading about the film.