The Friday-Sunday $87.8m estimated haul produced by far the biggest launch ever for 007 and the fourth highest of the year to date (after The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games), rising to $90m when you factor in Imax previews from Thursday night. No Bond movie has ever grossed more than $200m in North America, but on this showing, you have to say Skyfall is in with a shout.
Combined with the $428.6m international running total after three weekends, Eon, Sony and MGM's third outing with Daniel Craig has racked up $518m worldwide, and a further $89m international weekend demonstrates the movie's ongoing potency. The movie should overtake Quantum of Solace's $599m worldwide mark by next weekend to become the biggest in the series.
Disney's Wreck-It Ralph had to make do with second place, but it's doing well and added $33.1m to reach $93.7m in its second weekend. The relatively light 32% drop means that audiences are talking about the movie, and it should be a productive top-10 fixture throughout November. The fact that it is the only animation in the upper echelons of the charts helps the cause, and it won't be challenged in this regard until DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians arrives through Paramount on 21 November.
Argo, in fourth place, is delivering the goods for Warner Bros and has amassed more than $85m after five weekends. This is perfect form for the movie many regard as an Oscar frontrunner. Argo boasts strong pedigree across all the major categories and is rolling along nicely. I would argue the dark horse at this stage is the Denzel Washington drama Flight; it opened last weekend and is doing pretty well, ranking third on $48m. Incidentally, John Goodman plays significant comic roles in both movies. He has been working hard of late, also featuring in the voice cast of Laika Animation's Coraline follow-up ParaNorman – a possible animation contender – and Trouble with the Curve, Warner Bros's dollop of vanilla that stars Clint Eastwood, and will not be competing for any awards.
In an excellent limited launch, Disney released Steven Spielberg's more accolade-friendly Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, in 15th place on $900,000 from 11 sites. The DreamWorks-produced drama is an intriguing history lesson on the celebrated former president's battle to pass the 13th amendment to abolish slavery. Day-Lewis is always watchable and at times compelling. Nominations will inevitably come, although interestingly he is not always at the centre of things. Tommy Lee Jones is being spoken of as a strong supporting actor-contender for his portrayal of the formidable abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. It's a meaty, at times hammy performance, but one that should earn Jones plenty of kudos.
Skyfall will stay strong in North America for a while yet, but it will almost certainly lose its No 1 ranking next weekend, when the final Twilight instalment opens. You can already sense the hysteria.
North American top 10, 9-11 November 2012
1. Skyfall, $87.8m. Total: $90m
2. Wreck-It Ralph, $33.1m. Total: $93.7m
3. Flight, $15.1m. Total: $47.8m
4. Argo, $6.7m. Total: $85.7m
5. Taken 2, $4m. Total: $131.3m
6. Here Comes the Boom, $2.6m. Total: $39.1m
7. Cloud Atlas, $2.5m. Total: $22.7m
8. Pitch Perfect, $2.5m. Total: $59m
9. The Man with the Iron Fists, $2.5m. Total: $12.7m
10. Hotel Transylvania, $2.4m. Total: $140.9m
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