"The Bourne Ultimatum" took in $70.2 million this weekend, far surpassing the openings of both of the earlier Bourne films based on novels by Robert Ludlum.
"We're really riding high today," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal Pictures, which put out "The Bourne Ultimatum." "The reviews and audiences rated this one the best one yet."
The second in the series, "The Bourne Supremacy," earned $52.5 million in its opening weekend in 2004, while the first film, "The Bourne Identity," had an opening weekend take of $27.1 million when it debuted in 2002. Universal's research showed that more than 90% of the opening weekend audience had seen the previous two Bourne films. "People just love Matt Damon and (director) Paul Greengrass is a superstar," Ms. Rocco said. "Matt Damon is the new James Bond."
Though Matt Damon has transformed himself from Pretty Boy to Danger Guy, 57% of moviegoers said he was the main reason for seeing The Bourne Ultimatum, skewing female, while 68% said it was the action, especially among younger males.
Other Saturday night exit polling showed the movie attracted an audience 52% male and 48% female, made significant inroads with minorities (13% African Americans, 12% Hispanics, 7% Asians), and skewed age 30 and older (57% vs 43% under 30). The vast majority of the audience (94+%) had seen prior Bourne movies and 60% said that was the main reason for seeing the threequel.
Ratings of the movie broke down to 80% "Excellent/Very Good", 40% "Excellent", and 55% "Definitely Recommend".
Ultimatum also generated the second largest opening weekend in studio history for Universal trailing only The Lost World which collected $72.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday debut in May 1997 during what was then the biggest opening weekend of all time.
"We knew what Paul Greengrass was capable of doing, and Matt's just phenomenal. The combination of those two and producer Frank Marshall couldn't be beat. The exit polls couldn't have been better," U distrib chief Nikki Rocco said. "It equals a kick-ass action spy film."
"Moviegoers seemed to sense that something great was going to happen -- reviewers and audiences alike rated this one the best one yet," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass and Frank Marshall all delivered, and all the stars just aligned right."
Greengrass expresses great admiration for his star, who once said he might not have signed up for Bourne 2 if Greengrass hadn't come aboard. "I love Matt in it. He's not only a brilliant actor, but also brilliant in that part because he's a wonderful player of duality - you think of [Tom] Ripley and other parts he's played. You don't know which side of that duality he's on at any moment. And that's Bourne: a duality, a killer who's redeemed himself, the man on the run with a dark past, so he's perfect. You couldn't ask for a better actor in the part than Matt."
The European premiere of "The Bourne Ultimatum" -- the third time that a "Bourne" film had its first European screening in Locarno -- produced the festival's first sold-out screening at the 7,000-seat Piazza Grande. Neither Greengrass nor star Matt Damon were on hand, but they recorded a special message in which each spoke some Italian to the crowd. The film was interrupted twice by applause -- once after a long foot chase and fight in Tangiers and again after a car chase scene in New York.
"I've never seen anything like this," Damon says. "These are the best reviews of any movie I've ever been on ... in terms of just uniformly being good. There are very few people who are slagging it which is you know ... maybe on the European tour."
Now on a whirlwind promotional tour for the new film, the affable star speaks with pleasant amazement at the success of a film franchise with a plot so skinny on the surface, but so engrossing to audiences as their conflicted agent faces his horrid past.