The gap closed yesterday between Casino Royale and Happy Feet. The two are going to end up so neck-and-neck this evening — one studio’s estimate has Bond finishing the weekend with $41,122,000 and the Birds grabbing $41,254,000 — that their respective distributors, Sony/Columbia and Warner Bros., will probably be inflating the figures so as to position their film as the winner.
Right now, the Birds appear to be ahead of the Bond by $132,000…a nose-hair…but let’s see if the Bond spinners try to b.s. their way into a victory of some kind. Today’s (Sunday’s) figures will have to be very closely tallied down to the last dollar. Is it conceivable that the Birds will falter slightly and the Bond will pick up slightly also? Yeah, it could happen…but it’s not likely. This is definitely a squeaker, though. It’s Kennedy-Nixon in 1960.
The temptation for Sony and Warner Bros. to try and juggle each other on the reporting to the trades will be close to irresistable. Question is, how do you anticipate what the other guy is going to claim? It’s going to boil down to a question of who’s ballsier and who wants to lie more.
As expected, Happy Feet benefitted yesterday from a big family-trade surge, going from a Friday tally of $12,153,000 to a Saturday figure of $17,118,000. But Casino Royale also upticked — its Friday earnings of $14,904,000 increased by $800,000 the following day when it took in $15,779,000. Saturday business for sequels rarely increase — obviously a sign of unusual strength for the new 007.