Imax, minights portend whammo Stateside B.O. for Bondpic

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James Bond is suiting up for whammo biz at the U.S. box office.

The 23rd James Bond outing took off Thursday earning $4.6 million, of which $2.4 million came from midnights and $2.2 million from 463 exclusive Imax and other premium large format screens.

The Sony-MGM Bondpic already has been playing at turbo speed internationally, with more than $350 million entering its third frame.

Stateside matinees for director Sam Mendes’ “Skyfall” also are robust so far — leading to what is likely to be a stellar opening weekend gross at north of $70 million. The last Daniel Craig-starring Bond film, “Quantum of Solace,” opened to nearly $68 million in 2008. “Casino Royale,” meanwhile, earned $40 million during its debut frame in 2006.

“Skyfall” could also become Sony’s highest-grossing debut of the year. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which bowed in July, opened to $66 million before going on to earn $792 million worldwide.

“Skyfall” expands today to 3,500-plus domestic engagements.

(Stuart Oldham contributed to this report)

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