The British spy outgunned the British wizard at the box office this weekend.
MGM’s latest James Bond actioner “Die Another Day” grossed an estimated $47 million to open at No. 1 in the biggest 007 bow ever. Warner Bros.’ family sequel “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” settled for second place with $42.4 million on a 52% drop in its soph sesh.
New Line’s latest Ice Cube actioner “Friday After Next” unspooled with an estimated $13.1 million in third place. And Universal’s Kevin Kline starrer “The Emperor’s Club” debuted with $4.1 million in seventh.
Meanwhile, U’s “Eight Mile” dropped 55% in its third sesh to $8.7 million in fifth place. But despite the significant fall-off, cume on the U/Imagine co-prod reached $97.7 million.
Industrywide, the weekend repped a 1% uptick from the same frame a year ago with $154 million in estimated opening grosses, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. That’s a significant feat, as last year’s comparable sesh was the weekend after Thanksgiving and thus a particularly active moviegoing frame.
Year-to-date, 2002 is 11% ahead of the same portion of last year with $7.98 billion in total grosses.
“Die” — which cast appealing Halle Berry opposite Pierce Brosnan’s 007 — had been touted as a splashier Bond pic for a new generation, and execs said exit surveys show mission accomplished.
Two-thirds of “Day” auds were 25 and older, and responses from patrons in exit surveys were consistently strong in all demos, they said. But the highest pic ratings came from younger moviegoers.
“So, we know the word of mouth among young people is going to be great,” Lion marketing maven Peter Adee said.
“Day,” which skewed 54% male, drew the highest pic ratings of the past four Bond pics, execs said.
“Day” reps the second-biggest MGM opening ever, after 2001’s “Hannibal” ($58 million). It also marks a second consecutive hit movie for the studio after urban laffer “Barber Shop,” a crossover success whose domestic run reached $75 million this weekend.
“We’re pretty damned happy,” MGM vice chairman-chief operating officer Chris McGurk enthused. “We’re ecstatic about the (“Day”) number, both in the U.S. and internationally.”
Weekend grosses from the U.K. and four other European territories totaled a boffo $24 million, he noted.
“Die” outpaced perf of the last Bond pic by one-third, besting 1999’s “The World is Not Enough,” which opened at $35.5 million en route to $126.9 million domestically.
“Friday After” wasn’t able to match the opening of the franchise’s first sequel “Next Friday,” which bowed in January 2000 with $16.9 million. But New Line execs said they’re still gunning for a perf comparable to that pic’s $57.3 million domestic run.
“Emperor’s Club” appears on track for a successful platformed rollout after a barely wide 809 opening engagements produced an acceptable $5,025 per playdate.
“That was always the plan to set up this little labor of love,” U marketing topper Nikki Rocco said. “I want to take it nice and slow, and nurture it as best I can.”
‘Club’ skews female
Pic, which skewed 62% female and 81% over 30, drew 90% ratings of “excellent” or “very good” in exit surveys, execs said. Negative cost is estimated at $12.5 million.
The 52% drop for Warners’ family sequel was considered acceptable, even though it compared with a 36% soph-sesh slide for the first “Potter.” That’s because franchise original’s second weekend was a post-Thanksgiving frame and thus more robust than normal.
IFC’s leggy ethnic laffer “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” added another $3.8 million this weekend. That was good for eighth place and pushed cume — which hit $200 million Tuesday — to $204.7 million through an amazing 32 frames in release.
Sony Screen Gems’ soph sesher “Half Past Dead” dropped 58%, to $3.3 million in ninth place. Morris Chestnut-Steven Seagal starrer’s estimated 10-day cume is $12.7 million.
Miramax’s Salma Hayek starrer “Frida” was No. 10 on the frame with $2.4 million and a $12.1 million cume.
Among this sesh’s limited bows, Sony Classics mounted weekend sell-outs in two Gotham locations for Pedro Almodovar’s well-reviewed drama “Talk to Her.” “Talk” chatted up $105,000, or a mind-bending $52,500 per site.
Miramax opened Intermedia-produced Michael Caine starrer “The Quiet American” and grossed $111,000 from six theaters, or a boisterous $18,500 per venue.
And United Artists debuted drama “Personal Velocity” in a pair of Gotham sites to grab a speedy $31,700, or $15,356 per venue.
Elsewhere in the specialty market, Paramount Classics expanded drama “The Way Home” by two engagements to a total five in L.A. and Gotham to gross $$31,447. Perf repped a solid $6,289 per location with a $72,521 cume.
Miramax’s Armenian drama “Ararat” continued in six theaters and grossed $112,000 — an impressive $16,000 per venue with a $387,000 cume.
Focus Features broadened Dennis Quaid-Julianne Moore starrer “Far From Heaven” by 205 runs for a total 259 and grossed $1.7 million, or a sturdy $6,375 per location with a $3.2 million cume.
IDP/Goldwyn’s drama “The Crime of Father Amaro” expanded by 43 theaters for a total 86 and grossed $727,302, or a laudable $8,457 per venue with a $1.5 million cume.
Newmarket padded ethnic laffer “Real Women Have Curves” by 18 engagements for a total 165 and grossed $442,551, or $2,682 per playdate with a $3.2 million cume.
Artisan added six runs for a total 54 for laffer “Roger Dodger” and grossed $112,000, or $2,024 per site with an $833,000 cume.
Distrib also expanded music docu “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” by 13 engagements for a total 36 and grossed $155,000, or $4,305 per playdate with a $316,000 cume.
Five wide releases bow Wednesday for the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Openers include Disney’s high-profile family tooner “Treasure Planet.” Also set are Sony’s older-skewing tooner “Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights,” 20th Century Fox’s George Clooney starrer “Solaris,” Miramax’s “Wes Craven Presents: They” and Paramount actioner “Extreme Ops.”