(CNN) — At 50, the “James Bond” franchise is looking devilishly youthful thanks to “Skyfall,” which sees Daniel Craig return for a third time as 007.
The Sam Mendes-directed feature is already making a killing overseas, causing industry observers to salivate over how it could perform in the States this weekend. According to Exhibitor Relations Co., the 23rd Bond film has crossed $320 million internationally since it opened October 26, and it’s now the U.K.’s highest-grossing film of the year.
The film’s reception has also been mostly positive – there are already rumblings of whether the Academy will take notice for Oscar season, and former Bond Sir Roger Moore thinks of it “as the best Bond ever made”.
Joined by Judi Dench as M and Ben Whishaw as Agent Q, “Skyfall” sees Bond face off against Javier Bardem’s satisfyingly outlandish villain, Silva. The cast – along with director Mendes, screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, and cinematographer Roger Deakins – has won over a vast number of critics, although there’s a handful who are giving McKayla Maroney a run for her money.
“How do you make a 50-year-old film franchise new again? By letting it feel its age,” said People magazine’s review. “With wry geriatric jokes, a plot that strikes 007 right where he lives and even some throwback gadgets, ‘Skyfall’ gives James Bond a delightfully retro reboot.”
“If ‘Skyfall’ is the new 50, James Bond is handling it remarkably well,” said the L.A. Times. “Sam Mendes … has upped the ante, the action and the artistry in ‘Skyfall’ without losing all the defining traits we’ve come to expect — and need — from Bond.”
Variety thought this Bond entry puts “the ‘intelligence’ in MI6″ as a “smart, savvy and incredibly satisfying addition to the 007 oeuvre,” while Roger Ebert complimented, “‘Skyfall’ triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever … If you haven’t seen a 007 for years, this is the time to jump back in.”
With so much positive pre-release buzz, the million dollar question is just how far “Skyfall” could go at the box office. ERC is pegging it at a $75 million-plus opening weekend, setting “Skyfall” on track to become the first Bond film to cross $600 million worldwide.