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Bond bows down to Happy Feet

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November 20, 2006 11:03 IST

Nobody can dispute the fact that Daniel Craig has arrived as the new James Bond with a strong opening of Casino Royale in 25 countries. But the new Bond was not invincible in North America. The secret agent was relegated to the second position on the box office chart by an animated movie about singing penguins.

Happy Feet, which sang to the tune of $42.3 million over the weekend gave Warner Bros -- which lost quite a bit with M Night Shyamalan's Lady In The Water and Poseidon -- a badly needed smash hit. It took about $2 million more than the Bond film.

The Australian import, Happy Feet, focusing on a misfit penguin, who can dance but cannot sing, features the voices of Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman.

Another Warner Bros film, The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese film, has grossed a strong $114 million in North America. It could benefit further if it gets Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.

Though Casino Royale took home some $40.6 million in North America, it is faring much better abroad. In the United Kingdom, it grossed $25 million, and about $15 million from smaller markets, including India. It is yet to open in major markets such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan.

With the Thanksgiving Day holiday falling on Thursday, both hit movies could have another scorching weekend despite competition from the comedy Deck The Halls and the Denzel Washington thriller Déjà vu.

Knocking down last week's champion Borat was not a problem for Happy Feet. Yet, the outrageous comedy was still in great shape for about $14 million, taking its total to $95 million by its third weekend. Its $18 million budget was indeed small compared to that of $150 million for Casino Royale and $100 million for Happy Feet.

But not every new film has prospered. There was bad news for Fast Food Nation, a fictionalised story inspired by the hugely successful nonfiction work of the same name by Eric Schlosser that led to the famous suit against McDonalds by a handful of Indian Americans, who were upset over the misleading advertisements the giant corporation had used in promoting a vegetarian burger which in reality had beef tallow. The film starring Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette got mixed reviews, and ate up just about $400,000 in 320 theatres. The prospect of expanding over the holiday season does not look good.

There was bad news for Asif Kapadia too. After a weak opening, his first Hollywood venture, The Return, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, tumbled by a mighty 62 percent in its second week, grossing $1.7 million.

Arthur J Pais