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Casino Royale boasts best ever opening day

Daniel Craig is 007 in Casino Royale

Story by Jack Foley

NEW Bond movie Casino Royale has taken more in its first day of release in the UK than any previous 007 film, according to its distributor Columbia Pictures.

The film, which marks Daniel Craig’s debut as the super-spy, sold £1.7m worth of tickets in the UK on Thursday (November 16, 2006) – more than twice as much as the previous record-holder, Die Another Day, on its first day in 2002.

The figures mark a major coup for the new-look franchise, which attracted considerable criticism from Bond fans once Craig was unveiled as the new blond 007 in 2005.

The actor – who has previously appeared in films such as Layer Cake, Road To Perdition and Enduring Love – has risen above a hateful campaign to deliver a thrilling performance as a tougher and more complex 007.

And his performance has duly impressed the critics, who have predicted he could become the best James Bond since Sean Connery.

What’s more, Casino Royale could achieve global success on a scale not seen before by a Bond movie.

In a first for the franchise, the film has been approved by China’s censors and will be the first 007 film to be screened in the country.

Previous films had been banned because of violent and sexual content, according to film industry magazine Variety.

It is due to hit Chinese cinemas in January 2007 and has already been tipped to become one of the country’s biggest box office draws.

Piracy blow

The news wasn’t all good for the film, however, as an anti-piracy group has already reported that pirate copies of Casino Royale have already appeared for sale in London – despite the best efforts of the producers to ensure this didn’t happen.

Commenting on the report on the BBC, Kieron Sharp, from the Federation Against Copyright Theft, lamented: “The rapid appearance of this film on the streets shows the sophistication and organisation behind film piracy in the UK.”

According to Sharp, film piracy has generated over £270 million for criminals in the UK alone and is something that film companies are desperately trying to combat – film critics, for example, frequently have their phones confiscated during early screenings so that no recording devices can be taken into cinemas.

Michael G Wilson, one of the producers of Casino Royale said he was “disappointed although not entirely surprised” that it had already been pirated.

“The public must be made aware that piracy deprives film makers of the capital needed to make new films which, in turn, hurts the consumer,” he added.

All eyes will now be on Casino Royale‘s continued performance throughout its opening weekend, where it will also be debuting in 27 other countries, including the US and Russia.