Election references are growing a bit stale, I know, but this week’s box office race presents the perfect final opportunity to milk the year’s biggest event for all its metaphorical worth. After all, like Barack Obama, the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, seems like a sure winner — it’s the fresh face on the block, it promises change from all the 007 flicks that preceded it, and its main competition, Madagascar 2, represents the old guard at the multiplex. (A week old, sure, but still.)
So, will 007 win the weekend? Most signs point to yes. But there is a chance, a slight, slight chance, that Madagascar 2, which has been doing blockbuster business, could still walk away with a victory. That didn’t happen with John McCain, but if James Bond has taught us anything over the years, it’s that you should never say never.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Quantum of Solace
Columbia/MGM · PG-13 · 3,451 theaters · NEW
Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 1998 Rose Bowl — in my life, those special days were never as sweet to me as when I got to go to a new 007 film. (The kid in line for the first screening of the latest Timothy Dalton adventure? Yep, ‘twas I.) Which may explain why I feel a bit…shaken right now. Why? Because I can’t honestly say that I’m dying to see this new movie, the 22nd official entry in the 007 canon. From everything I’ve heard, they’ve dumped a lot of the dialogue and gadgets and fun that die-hards have loved for so long, in lieu of a streamlined movie that’s more Bourne than Bond. Certainly, that explains why the film has been breaking records in its first few weeks overseas (less talk + more action = big international bucks), but I do wonder if it will alienate the series’ fan base. And I wonder if this installment will ultimately do as well as 2006’s Casino Royale, which debuted with $40.8 mil and went on to earn $167.4 mil domestically, the most of any Bond movie ever. Now that audiences are familiar with star Daniel Craig, the initial number shouldn’t be hard to beat. But the final tally may be more of a stretch, since Quantum of Solace apparently lacks the unexpectedly moving love story that was at the heart of its predecessor — not to mention Eva Green, possibly the hottest (and definitely most human) Bond Babe in history.
Weekend prediction: $51 million
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Paramount/DreamWorks · PG · 4,065 theaters · 2nd weekend
It’ll be a close race, indeed, because this CG sequel hasn’t slowed down one bit since bowing with $63.1 mil last weekend: Ever since, it has been banking bundles. Certainly, if Quantum of Solace’s numbers are a bit soft and Madagascar 2 holds on a tad better than expected, we could have a real race on our hands. Remember: Two years ago, Casino Royale succumbed to another family film, Happy Feet. So there’s still a chance. Oy, I’m starting to sound like Fred Barnes here.
Weekend prediction: $42 million
Universal · R · 2,798 theaters · 2nd weekend
Speaking of surprises, how about this comedy’s hefty $19.2 mil debut? Wow. I should have never misunderestimated the team of Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott. Mea culpa, fellas. Sorry, too, that you’ll take a hit this week, as all the guys out there flock to see Quantum of Solace.
Weekend prediction: $9 million
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Walt Disney · G · 3,202 theaters · 4th weekend
The East High kids have grossed nearly $200 mil worldwide. To quote another famous Albuquerque native, Neil Patrick Harris: That’s legen…dary!
Weekend prediction: $6 million
Universal · R · 1,896 theaters · 4th weekend
Sophisticates need something to see.
Weekend prediction: $5 million