Quantity doesn't propel the box office as Quantum of Solace, the sole new nationwide release of the weekend, showed. With overall business at $148.5 million, the weekend had higher attendance than the comparable timeframes of the past three years, when there were a greater number of new titles.
Quantum of Solace raked in $67.5 million on approximately 5,900 screens at 3,451 theaters, ranking as the second highest grossing opening on record for a spy drama behind The Bourne Ultimatum. The $200 million action sequel handily surpassed James Bond's previous best, Die Another Day, which debuted to $47.1 million six years ago (or over $57 million adjusted for ticket price inflation), and Quantum leapt past predecessor Casino Royale by an even wider margin. Casino had a $40.8 million start on 5,100 screens at 3,434 theaters two years ago. According to distributor Sony's exit polling, 54 percent of Quantum's audience was male and 58 percent was over 25 years old, which were close to Casino's results of 55 percent male and 57 percent over 25.
The first weekend jump from Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace is reminiscent of the increase of The Bourne Identity to The Bourne Supremacy, and Quantum's debut packed essentially the same firepower as The Bourne Ultimatum's $69.3 million start. The comparison is appropriate beyond just the numbers. The new James Bond pictures have been influenced by the Jason Bourne series in story and style, from the blunt and fast-paced action to the watery death of a loved one and subsequent search for revenge to a plotline extending over more than one movie.
Given the precedents set by the Bourne movies, not to mention the Batman franchise with its phenomenal improvement from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace was always poised to have a much bigger opening than Casino Royale, because that picture was well liked by moviegoers and left them excited for the next adventure. Despite a more saturated release and opening weekend-centric period, Casino Royale held up slightly better than GoldenEye from 1995, and it became the highest-grossing Bond on record with a $167.4 million final tally (though it was far from the most attended). The marketing campaign for Quantum of Solace did its part, offering more spectacular action shots and slick poses to continue Casino's storyline and Quantum as a movie event.
Considering James Bond's worldwide appeal, it would be remiss to not mention Quantum of Solace's foreign returns. The picture pulled in $54.6 million on 10, 460 screens across 73 territories over the weekend, lifting its total to $250.2 million since its Oct. 31 debut. Casino Royale was at $195.6 million at the same point and ended its run at a franchise high of $426.8 million.