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Berry Propels Bond To Success

It was Harry Potter's turn to be shaken, AND stirred by the arrival of the new Bond thriller "Die Another Day."

Not only did Die Another Day" enjoy the biggest opening ever for a James Bond movie, but it also introduced a Bond girl that may get her own spinoff movie, reports The Early Show's new entertainment contributor Jess Cagle, a senior editor at Time magazine, soon to be working at People magazine.

"Die Another Day" pulled in an estimated $47 million dollars, pushing "Harry Potter" into second place. Although "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" lasted only one week at the top of the box office charts, it was a strong draw with a weekend gross of $42.37 million.

But Potter fans shouldn't shed tears, Cagle says. Ultimately, Harry Potter is going to make more money. The last Bond movie made about $350 million worldwide; the last Harry Potter movie made $900 million.

Ice Cube's comedy "Friday After Next" opened in third place. The studio says the third movie in the "Friday" series met expectations with a gross of $13 million. Rounding out the top five were two more hold-overs - "Santa Clause 2" and "8 Mile." Eminem's movie probably will cross the $100 million mark next weekend.

Cagle says Halle Berry was the secret weapon for the success of this Bond movie.

"She's a very unique kind of Bond girl," Cage says, "and it may be the first Bond girl in history to get her own spinoff. They're thinking of doing it. She would get a significant pay raise for this. She'd probably get something like $10 million or $15 million."

The conventional wisdom is that young males, the core action audience, will not go see a movie with a woman in the lead was turned on its head two years ago with Angelina Jolie in "Tomb Raider."

Kevin Kline's "The Emperor's Club," about a prep-school teacher's relationship with a troublesome teen, debuted at No. 7 with $4.1 million.

Both "Friday After Next" and "The Emperor's Club" played in far fewer theaters than the Bond or Potter movies.

"Die Another Day" beat the opening gross of the last Bond movie, "The World Is Not Enough," the franchise's previous best debut at $35.5 million.

Pierce Brosnan has drawn favorable reviews for his fourth outing as agent 007. The addition of Halle Berry as Bond's formidable American ally and love interest, plus a cameo and theme song by Madonna, helped reinvigorate the 40-year-old franchise.

Women accounted for nearly half the movie's audience, according to distributor MGM. The movie's hip look and attitude played well with viewers younger than 25, who made up about a third of the audience, said Peter Adee, MGM head of marketing.

"There's a great deal of pressure on franchise pictures, especially when you have 19 movies before you," Adee said. "You can't just have an aging audience. Young men and women are embracing the Bond franchise unbelievably well. That puts us in a great place to set up the next movie."

"Chamber of Secrets" had a slower second weekend than its predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." But the second weekend for "Sorcerer's Stone" came over Thanksgiving, when movie-going is brisker.

"Harry Potter" distributor Warner Bros. expects a strong holiday showing for "Chamber of Secrets" this Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally a prime time for family films.

"You just watch on Thanksgiving. I think `Harry Potter' is going to do very well, along with `Santa Clause 2,"' said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" crossed the $200 million mark last week, with "Chamber of Secrets" ready to follow suit quickly. That will make six $200 million movies so far this year, tying last year's record number, with one more likely candidate, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," coming next month.

In limited release, "Talk to Her," from director Pedro Almodovar ("All About My Mother"), had a terrific debut, taking in $105,000 in two theaters for a whopping $52,500 average. The comic drama follows the odd friendship between two men in love with comatose women.

Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser's "The Quiet American" opened strongly with $111,000 at six theaters for an $18,500 average. Based on Graham Greene's novel, the film centers on a romantic triangle in 1950s Vietnam.

Writer-director Rebecca Miller's "Personal Velocity," which won the top dramatic honors at last winter's Sundance Film Festival, debuted well with $30,712 at two New York City theaters, averaging $15,356. The film stars Parker Posey, Kyra Sedgwick and Fairuza Balk in a trilogy of tales about women at personal crossroads.

Several major movies are still to open this holiday season, including the second "Lord of the Rings" film. Cagle says the sequel is bigger than the original, with more epic sweep and a lot more action in it.

"I think people are going to enjoy it," he says. The movie opens Dec. 18.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday, according to Hollywood.com:

1. "Die Another Day," $47 million.

2. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," $42.37 million.

3. "Friday After Next," $13 million.

4. "The Santa Clause 2," $10.3 million.

5. "8 Mile," $8.7 million.

6. "The Ring," $7.6 million.

7. "The Emperor's Club," $4 million.

8. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," $3.8 million.

9. "Half Past Dead," $3.3 million.

10. "Frida," $2.4 million.