Skyfall sets 007 record; slips to No. 2 behind vampires in U.S.

“Pesky vampires.”

UPDATE I: Skyfall is now the No. 1 movie in the James Bond series for worldwide ticket sales at $669 million, according to estimates by Sony Pictures listed at the BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE. The previous record was 2006’s Casino Royale at $596.4 million.

EARLIER: Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, slipped to No. 2 movie in the U.S. in its second weekend as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II, the final film in the young vampire series, sold $141.3 million in tickets, according to studio estimates at THE BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE.

Skyfall’s U.S. ticket sales for the weekend may total an estimated $41.5 million. The movie’s total for the region is an estimated $161.3 million. Quantum of Solace currently holds the U.S.-Canada 007 box office record at $169.4 million.

The $41.5 million Skyfall figure represents a 53 percent decline from the opening weekend. That’s in line with the usual dropoff (50 percent is normal). It’s also better than 2008 when Quantum’s U.S.-Canada ticket sales slid 60 percent in its second weekend, when the first Twilight movie debuted.

Skyfall should set the new 007 record this week, probably by mid-week. Box Office Mojo also has A DAILY BREAKDOWN OF SKYFALL TICKET SALES. The lowest day last week was $5.1 million on Thursday, Nov. 15. Also, based on that chart, it appears Skyfall ticket sales fell off more on Friday, Nov. 16 (the first day of the Twilight final movie) but recovered somewhat on Saturday.

Die Another Day’s 10th anniversary: an abrupt end

A decade ago this month, the 20th James Bond movie, Die Another Day premiered. In hindsight, what was going on behind the scenes was more interesting than the movie itself.

The film turned out to be actor Pierce Brosnan’s final turn as 007. The actor, in publicizing the movie, indicated that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli wanted him back for a fifth appearance. The co-bosses of Eon Productions, however, may have been undergoing a creative mid-life crisis.

In interviews years after Die Another Day came out, Wilson and Broccoli described the early 2000s as personally frustrating. “I was desperately afraid, and Barbara was desperately afraid, we would go downhill,” Wilson TOLD THE NEW YORK TIMES IN OCTOBER 2005. Apparently, the duo felt at this point they were still carrying the flame for Albert R. Broccoli, the co-founder of Eon. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves,” Wilson told the Times in ’05.

In any case, Die Another Day was the end not only of Brosnan’s run but of the series that had begun 40 years earlier. When Bond next appeared onscreen, in 2006’s Casino Royale, Eon would start over with an entirely different continuity and a new Bond, Daniel Craig.

Die Another Day contained numerous references to the 007 series, including a sequence where Brosnan-Bond and Q (John Cleese) are in a storage area of gadgets, including the Thunderball jet pack. Q gives Bond a watch with a laser beam (Bond’s 20th watch, we’re told). Halle Berry as Jinx, a U.S. operative, made an entrance in a bikini, modeled after Ursula Andress’s first appearance in Dr. No.

The movie also suffers from personality disorder. The first half is more or less serious (with bits of humor) and a de facto adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker novel. The second half veers into fantasy with an invisible car and Bond barely staying ahead of a tidal wave.

At the box office, Die Another Day was a hit, with almost $432 million in worldwide ticket sales, a 19 percent jump from 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. In the U.S. and Canada, the 20th 007 film sold $167.4 million in tickets, a 27 percent increase from the previous 007 entry. But that didn’t prevent the abrupt end of the Brosnan era.