Rival studios steered clear of James Bond over the weekend, allowing Quantum of Solace to cash in on the wide open field. The movie took in an estimated $70.4 million in ticket sales, well above experts' estimates of around $50-60 million. And although it drew reviews that were less enthusiastic than those for its predecessor, Casino Royale, it earned nearly $30 million more than the opening for that film. In fact, it was the most ever earned by a 007 movie on an opening weekend, topping the $47 million that Die Another Dayearned in 2002. USA Todaycredited the film's success to the producers' decision to abandon the franchise's "decades-old catchphrases and pithy dialogue in favor of a grittier style." The overall box office was extraordinarily strong as well, with last week's winner, DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,pulling in a sensational $36.1 million, to bring its 10-day total to $118 million. But as strong as the box-office performances of those two films were, they were like nothing compared with Slumdog Millionaire. The Danny Boyle movie opened with $350,434 in just 10 theaters, for an average of $35,043 per theater -- 72 percent more than the $20,400 per-theater average of Quantum of Solace.

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Quantum of Solace, $70.4 million; 2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, $36.1 million; 3.Role Models, $11.7 million; 4. High School Musical 3: Senior Year, $5.9 million; 5. Changeling, $4.2 million; 6. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, $3.2 million; 7. Soul Men, $2.43 million; 8. The Secret Life of Bees, $2.4 million; 9. Saw V, $1.8 million; 10.The Haunting of Molly Hartley, $1.6 million.


Quantum of Solaceremained the top film overseas for the third week in a row after it expanded into a total of 67 markets and brought in $56.1 million. The overseas total for the movie now stands at $251.6 million with several major markets, including Australia, Japan and Spain, yet to open. The film held the lead in the U.K. for the third consecutive week with $8.6 million, bringing its total in that country to $64.1 million.


Netflix is about ready to close the coffin on HD DVD. The online movie rental company said on Friday that it will cease providing movies in the now defunct format effective December 15. Netflix reminded subscribers that it had advised them last February that it would phase out HD DVD and go with Blu-ray exclusively. Earlier this month, Netflix said that it would stop selling used DVDs at the end of this month. It had never sold HD DVD discs (or Blu-ray).


Dozens of mostly female fans of actor Robert Pattison began camping out Sunday on the sidewalk at Mann's Village theater in Westwood, hoping to get a glimpse of the young British star of the vampire movie Twilightwhen it premieres at the theater tonight (Monday). Canada's National Postreported today that thousands of Pattison's teen fans showed up at a promotion for the movie in Toronto on Saturday. Noting that Twilighthas not yet even been released, it commented, "This was a case of fame running ahead of itself on a ski hill. This, here, was the sound of many, many hammers, etching a moment into pop culture's time. Pattison, here, was like Rudolph Valentino in 1921, or Warren Beatty in 1975, or a Spice Girl in 1996." On her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, Nikki Finke observed Sunday that industry experts don't "quite know what to make of this frenzy in terms of estimating box office grosses for this low-cost blockbuster's November 21 opening ... with estimates ranging from $35 million and maybe $40 million all the way up to $60 million.


A Hollywood-based videogame company that specialized in making games based on movies, TV shows, and even the Six Flags amusement-park rides, closed down Friday, after a year and a half of poor sales, according to reports appearing in Daily Varietyand the Los Angeles Times. The company, which launched just 18 months ago, had forged deals with Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Vanguard Animation, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. In reporting the company's demise, the Timesobserved that it "underscores the difficulties of making videogames on a Hollywood time frame. Feature films take less than a year to shoot, edit and release. But video games can take two or more years to develop." On its home page, Brash links to a news article in the Wall Street Journal that appeared shortly after its launch. It was headlined: "A Start-Up's Risky Niche: Movie-based Videogames."