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LONDON Demonstrating the growing importance of the Russian marketplace, the “Quantum of Solace” worldwide promotional tour kicked off in Moscow last week. But outside the U.S., Blighty remains, without a doubt, the most important territory for the super-spy franchise.

To Marc Forster, the mild-mannered German-born Swiss helmer of “Quantum of Solace,” all eyes are on the U.K. opening. “I think it’s absolutely crucial that it starts off in a positive way, because it will affect the rest of the world.” U.K. buzz for “Solace” has been steadily building on home turf, and is set to move into fifth gear as the opening looms. Not only does it get the full red carpet treatment at an Oct. 29 royal world premiere to be attended by Princes William and Harry, but later that same night the pic has its first public screening as a high-profile gala at the Times BFI London Film Festival. The combo of royal approval and fest exposure near-guarantees global media coverage. The U.K. release follows Oct. 31 with the U.S. launch set for Nov. 14.

While the buzz is hot for “Solace,” it has a lot to live up to after the stunning U.K. success of “Casino Royale,” which bagged a boffo $107.4 million in Blighty. But not only did it delight multiplex auds; “Royale” won warm approval from the Brit crix and landed Craig a Bafta best actor nom — a first for James Bond.

Forster, the first non-Commonwealth director of a Bond pic, is quietly confident his 007 can deliver the goods. In conversation with Variety at a swanky London hotel, he explains that his approach to the well-loved franchise was not to obsess on the past — “I had other Bond films in my mind, but I only looked at ‘Casino Royale,’ ‘Dr. No,’ ‘Goldfinger,’ ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ ” — but to focus primarily on Craig and the locations.

Forster, who made his name directing highbrow fare like “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and “The Kite Runner,” concedes he was initially hesitant to take over the franchise, but was won over by the prospect of working with Craig. “Because of Daniel, I agreed to make the movie,” he says.

Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson reportedly recruited Forster to inject a dose of arthouse sensibility into the blood of the action franchise. But while Forster talks about his approach in lofty terms of betrayal and vulnerability, the film seems to be true to Bond’s traditional image. The 10-minute reel of “Solace” footage is high-octane, sexy stuff showing a confident 007 evading the baddies and getting the girl as auds have grown to love.Forster is known for his painstaking preparations, and “Solace” was no different. First up was scouring the globe for the perfect spots: “I think Bond locations are characters in themselves. … I discovered Chile and the desert. I always had an image of the desert and Bond, so I thought that would be a good match. I think he’s sort of isolated and I think it felt right for Bond.”

And after the recent box office success of femme-centric fare such as “Sex and the City” and “Mamma Mia!,” there’s a suggestion that Brit auds are craving a bit of testosterone-fuelled action.