Skyfall soars with record US debut

James Bond's Skyfall has extended its worldwide box office rule to North America, hauling in a franchise record 87.8 million dollars (£55.2 million) in its first weekend at US cinemas.

Adding in 2.2 million US dollars from previews at IMAX and other large-format cinemas, Skyfall has taken in 90 million dollars in the US, according to studio estimates.

That lifts the worldwide total for Skyfall to 518.6 million US dollars (£326 million) since it began rolling out overseas in late October. Internationally, the 23rd Bond flick added 89 million dollars this weekend to raise its overseas revenue to 428.6 million dollars.

The third instalment starring Daniel Craig as British super-spy Bond, Skyfall outdid the 67.5 million dollar US 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 has already has passed the 407.7 million dollar overseas total for Quantum of Solace and by today (November 12), it will top the 432.2 million international haul for Casino Royale.

The Craig era has reinvigorated one of Hollywood's most-enduring franchises, whose first big-screen Bond adventure, Dr No, debuted 50 years ago.

"It's quite a testament to Bond, considering it's the 50th anniversary. What a great anniversary present," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, which produces the Bond films along with MGM.

Skyfall was the weekend's only new wide release in the US, but Steven Spielberg's Lincoln had a huge start in a handful of cinemas. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, Lincoln took in 900,000 dollars in 11 cinemas for a whopping average of 81,818 dollars a cinema. By comparison, Skyfall averaged 25,050 a cinema in 3,505 venues.

Skyfall took over the top spot at the weekend box office from Disney's animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph, which fell to number two with 33.1 million dollars, raising its domestic total to 93.7 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 in today's US dollars, with its 1964 predecessor Goldfinger not far behind at 444 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.