Box Office Report: 'Skyfall' Opening Weekend Eyeing $75 Million Range, Could Hit $80 Mil


Daniel Craig filmed a scene for "Skyfall" outside the Oruculer Gate (or Weavers Gate) at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.

The latest James Bond pic looks to surpass "Quantum of Solace" and "Casino Royale" in its domestic debut after smashing records overseas; Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" doing solid business in limited launch.

Sam Mendes' Skyfall is doing bang-up business at the domestic box office and is virtually assured of posting the top debut for any Bond pic, not accounting for inflation.

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The movie, returning Daniel Craig in the title role for a third time, should open in the $75 million range and could even near $80 million, according to more bullish box office observers. That includes $2.2 million earned in exclusive Imax and other large-format runs on Thursday (the film opened nationwide on Friday).

Quantum of Solace debuted to $67.5 million in mid-November 2008, a series best, while Casino Royale -- marking Craig's first turn as 007 -- opened to $40.8 million in November 2006.

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Eon Productions and MGM are partners on Skyfall, while Sony has marketing and distribution duties.

Skyfall has already done massive business overseas, grossing north of $320 million in just two weeks.

"We are off to an amazing start as Skyfall begins its roll out in North America," says one Sony insider, adding that early matinee numbers from Friday are "through the roof, including exceptional performance from Imax theaters that are now running with their regular schedule.

One wild card domestically is more bad weather on the East Coast, already hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

This time out, cinema's most famous spy must save both M -- again played by Judi Dench -- and MI6 from former operative-turned-villain Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem. The movie also stars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Lim Marlohe and Albert Finney.

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Skyfall cost roughly $200 million to make after rebates.

Opening Friday in 11 cities is Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis. Box office observers expect the film to post a strong location average in the $75,000 range basd on early returns. Lincoln, from DreamWorks and distributed by Disney domestically, expands nationwide on Nov. 16.

Spielberg hopes to play off the presidential election and the heightened interest in politics.