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Bond may not win race for USA box-office #1 spot, but estimates may be misleading

19-Nov-2006 • Casino Royale

Whose numbers to believe? Sony officially tallied the Casino Royale weekend take at $40.6 mil, lower than any rival studio's estimate, and Warner Bros. officially put Happy Feet at $42.3 mil, higher than any other competitor's estimate. (About Warner's estimate, one box office guru told the site, "They are being extremely aggressive with their number, and I am not sure come tomorrow that they will be able to live up to the heights they are setting today.")

Other experts had it as a photo finish, with only $132K to $400K separating the #1 and #2 movies at the box office office this weekend - reports HollywoodDaily

It's all coming down to Sunday's real figures, not estimates.

This nailbiter of a race has been giving studio moguls' flop sweat. That's because there's immense PR value in declaring a movie No. 1 in the U.S. market.

Comparatively, the new Bond scored the better per screen average -- so, just as predicted, the margin of difference came down to running time and theater count where the penguin pic had the edge on the spy.

Happy Feet may have finished the weekend bigger thanks to huge kiddie matinees.

For the Friday-through-Sunday, Bond vs Birds marks the first time dueling movies both made over $40 mil. On Friday, 007 raked in $14.9 million from 3,434 theaters and on Saturday $15.7 mil with an estimate of $10 mil for Sunday -- compared to the singers' and hoofers' $12.1 mil Friday and $17.1 mil Saturday from 3,804 playdates. In terms of per screen average, the spy's was $11,823, while the birds' was $10,778. One thing is clear, though: The studio is thrilled with Daniel Craig's debut. When Pierce Brosnan started his run in the franchise, his opening was below Daniel Craig's, even factoring in everything. But, by November 2002, his Die Another Day had a $47 mil 3-day opening weekend -- higher than Casino Royale's opening. True, ticket prices were 12% lower back then, but the Brosnan pic had a much shorter running time. (2 hours, compared to 2 hours, 24 minutes). And Die Another Day didn't go up against a crowd-pleasing penguin pic!

The official figures will be released tomorrow.

Thanks to `Champion Alonso` for the alert.

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