From Antarctica with love

first_imgContributing to Warner’s first place finish was the giant-screen Imax version of “Happy Feet,” responsible for $2.4 million of the movie’s total gross and giving Imax its biggest animated movie opening ever. Sony Pictures Entertainment, which released “Casino Royale,” seemed content with second place given the film’s 2 1/2 hour running time resulting in fewer showings per day. Craig’s first outing as the British secret agent is the 21st official Bond movie, the most recent of which was 2002’s “Die Another Day” which featured Pierce Brosnan as Bond for the fourth time. “Casino Royale” fell short of the $47 million opening weekend of “Die” but far exceeded Brosnan’s first outing as Bond in 1995’s “Goldeneye” ($26.2 million). “We’re ecstatic with our opening for `Casino Royale,”‘ said Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of distribution. “It’s certainly the best-reviewed Bond ever and people are just eating it up. Daniel Craig is amazing as the new James Bond and it feels like we’re not only satisfying die-hard Bond fans but creating new fans as well. “This is a fantastic start for a new Bond.” Dancing penguins stepped on the toes of the new James Bond in a battle royal of the tuxedos – proving a license to chill is better than a license to kill at the box office. The animated “Happy Feet” just pipped the new 007 opus “Casino Royale” – featuring the debut of Daniel Craig as a not-so-suave Bond – by less than $2 million. With an opening weekend gross of $42.3 million, “Happy Feet” gave Warner Bros. the biggest animated movie opening in its long history while “Casino Royale” finished a strong runner-up with a take of $40.6 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. “It was nice to win the weekend, I didn’t expect it going in,” said Warner Bros. distribution head Dan Fellman. “I think we’re extremely well-positioned to play strong through Thanksgiving and Christmas. We will be on the screen until the ice melts.” Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations Co. said it is no surprise that “Happy Feet” and “Casino Royale” had a photo finish because “the movies are so closely matched in awareness and enthusiasm. Audiences had to see these movies. It was a battle royale at the box office.” But the two films combined could not match last year’s record November opening of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” which took in $102.3 million its opening weekend the same weekend a year ago. This resulted in box office receipts for the top 12 films falling short of last year by 22 percent. Still, box office receipts have been up over 2005 figures 27 out of the last 35 weekends with year-to-date revenue up by nearly 6 percent. Falling to third place after two weekends at the top was the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy “Borat” which took in an estimated $14.35 million for an impressive three-week total of $90.5 million. It was followed by Disney’s “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” in fourth place with $8.2 million ($51.6 million to date) with DreamWorks’ animated “Flushed Away” rounding out the top five with a weekend take of $6.8 million ($48.8 million to date). Final box office totals will be released Monday. [email protected] (818)713-3758 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img