'Casino Royale' in early boxoffice lead


Daniel Craig as the new James Bond hit the megaplexes with his Walther P99 blazing as the 21st film in the venerable action series based on Ian Fleming's novels commanded the boxoffice Friday. According to the boxofffice tracking site boxofficemojo.com, Sony Pictures' release of "Casino Royale" captured an estimated $14.75 million in the North American marketplace on its opening day.

The Columbia Pictures/MGM coproduction directed by Martin Campbell notched a per-theater average of $4,295 in the 3,434 theaters in which it opened as the re-invented Bond franchise renewed its license to thrill.

"Happy Feet," Warner Bros. Pictures' animated tale of dancing penguins, directed by George Miller, debuted in the second spot with an estimated $11.75 million. It registered a per-theater average of $3,089 in 3,804 theaters.

The two movies have entered into a heated race for weekend dominance. "Casino" ruled on Friday, but "Feet" should rally with the help of crowded Saturday matinees and a shorter running time. On the other hand, "Casino's" adult audience will be buying full-price tickets while "Feet's" fans will be snatching up a lot of kid-priced admissions.

20th Century Fox's "Borat," which has dominated the boxoffice listings for the past two weekends, downshifted to third place. It attracted an estimated $4.9 million, bringing its total to date to about $81.1 million.

Sony's "Stranger than Fiction," starring Will Ferrell, occupied the fourth spot, grabbing an estimated $2.2 million on its second Friday.

And Buena Vista's holiday offering "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" stood in fifth place on Friday with an estimated $2 million that brought its cume to $45.4 million.

Universal Pictures' men-behind-bars comedy, "Let's Go to Prison," certainly didn't break out. It bowed in 11th place with an estimated $725,000.