Weekend Box Office: 'Skyfall' Kills Overseas as 'Argo' Tops Four Weak New Releases

There were four wide releases opening domestically this weekend and not one of them made any real impact at the box office.  The big news was the overseas debut of Skyfall (review) which opened in the UK two weeks ahead of its U.S. debut.  The 23rd official James Bond film earned a massive $77 million in the 25 markets it debuted in.  The film earned a massive $32 million in the UK alone, for the second-biggest UK debut weekend of all time, behind the 3D-enhanced Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II.  It earned far more initially than Casino Royale ($21 million) and Quantum of Solace ($24 million), setting the stage for a massive US debut and what will surely be the biggest 007 film yet domestic and worldwide.  I don't think it's the best 007 film or that it should be an Oscar contender, but it's a darn good movie and anyone merely wanting a top-flight bit of action will be thrilled with this entry.  I can't imagine it not opening huge and playing for a rather long time, especially as it will be unopposed in the mega-blockbuster department (Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn II will play exclusively to its fanbase, massive as it is) for a month until The Hobbit part 1 of 30 opens on Dec. 14.  

The top new domestic opener was Cloud Atlas, which earned just $9.4 million.  This is a disaster no matter how slice it.  Even though Warner Bros. was only on the hook for distribution and marketing, they will still probably break even at best.  The sprawling Wachowksi siblings/Tom Tywker film has covered most of its $100 million budget via foreign pre-sales, but it was doomed in America.  A film like Cloud Atlas (review) was always going to be a marketing challenge, even with Tom Hanks at the top of the poster.  But in this current marketplace filled with high-quality adult entertainment that is both less challenging than Cloud Atlas and arguably *better* than Cloud Atlas, it was never going to be the top choice of general moviegoers.  Hopefully it will do better overseas.The other three openers all tanked.  Silent Hill: Revelations 3D opened with just $8 million, compared to the $20 million debut of the first Silent Hill nearly seven years ago.  The film cost just $20 million so it'll probably break even for Open Road Films in the long run.  This was clearly a case of an unasked-for sequel and audiences responded accordingly.  The last two openers didn't register at all.

Fun Size
 was an interesting experiment, a Nickelodeon funded kids comedy set on Halloween to serve as an antidote to the likes of
Paranormal Activity 4
(down 70% in weekend two for an $8.6 million second weekend and a ten day total of $42 million but a worldwide total of $91 million) and
($39 million in 17 days).  Alas the film ended up with a PG-13.  Hence it was considered too adult for kids but too kid-friendly for older audiences.  Without any big stars on the poster (sorry Victoria Justice), the film fizzled with just $4 million (the 64th worst wide-release opening of all time). The Curtis Hanson/Michael Apted surfing melodrama 
Chasing Mavericks
 earned just $2.2 million (the ninth-worst wide release opening of all-time), proving that Gerald Butler is only a star with a strong opener when paired with the likes of Jennifer Aniston or Jamie Foxx.   

The top film was in fact Ben Affleck's Argo (review) which has become the defacto adult film of choice and the current Oscar front runner.  The film earned $12.3 million in its third weekend, giving it a 17-day total of $60 million.  It's still $4 million behind The Town although it once again had a bigger third weekend ($9 million for The Town).   I expect it to take a hit in two weeks when Skyfall becomes the 'every grownup sees it' film, but it will have around $80 million by that time and it's still on track to top $100 million at its current pace.  In other holdover news, Alex Cross dropped 56% in weekend two, which is about the norm for a Tyler Perry film.  But since we're dealing with an $11 million debut instead of a normal $20-25 million opening, it's pretty ugly.  The truly mediocre picture has earned just $19 million in ten days meaning it will barely gross its $25 million budget domestically.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has now earned $11 million, or about what it could have opened to with even a halfway decent wide-release push.  Pitch Perfect is an example of doing the platform thing right, and it's now at $53 million.  The Bourne Legacy actually crossed $250 million worldwide, proving that sometimes Americans do have better taste when it comes to half-assed spin-offs.  Looper has crossed $60 million domestic and Hotel Transylvania, with $130 million, is now Sony Animation's biggest hit ever (it still dropped only 27% this weekend).  Here Comes the Boom has had surprisingly okay legs and now has $30 million.  Finally Taken 2 earned another $8 million and now has $117 million.  It may not quite get to the original's $145 million domestic take, but it's already well above the first film's worldwide gross and is heading towards $300 million if it's not there already.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us for the unofficial start of the holiday season next frame as Robert Zemeckis's Flight faces off against Disney's Wreck It Ralph (review tomorrow) and the RZA/Russell Crowe martial arts epic The Man With the Iron Fists.