So it’s a James Bond weekend at the box office. Though Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln also opens in limited release this Friday, the only picture going wide is Skyfall, which is already on Imax screens, and the picture has already made $321 Million internationally. It’s doesn’t need America to be a success, but it’s going to be big stateside as well.

Bond has been with us for fifty years, with numerous actors playing the lead, and with more bad films than good. Really, when you boil it down there’s just a handful of the twenty-three official (or twenty-five with Never Say Never Again and 1967′s Casino Royale thrown in the mix) movies that are really good, with a number more that are reasonably entertaining. After that you dip into camp fun, or just plain bad. And for the most part, even the best Bond films (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, the new Casino Royale) have problems, or are inarguably slight.

But – if you’re like me – you grew up on these movies. I remember watching Bond films on ABC on Sunday nights, TV spots highlighting Blofeld’s lair inside an active volcano, of Sean Connery’s effortless charm, and Roger Moore’s lazy theatrics. The franchise has been with us for half a century, and like many franchises – including the most popular ones today – the thrill is often in the immediate digestion.

But, partly because of the Blu-ray box set, partly because Casino Royale was really good, and partly because it’s been four years since the last one (partly because of MGM’s bankruptcy problems), Skyfall has a chance of doing more business than any previous Bond (at least with unadjusted numbers). Quantum of Solace is the highest grossing Bond movie yet, with $168 Million domestic, and Skyfall is looking comfortably at a $200 Million domestic cume, and possibly more. Of course, in unadjusted numbers, there’s no way for Skyfall to top either Thunderball ($594 Million) or Goldfinger ($526 Million), but those films were also reissued quite regularly back in the day. Still, this is going to do good business.

Lincoln expands next week, but – other than a locked nominated for Daniel Day-Lewis, it’s hard to know if it’s going to play (especially after the election), and if it’s got the awards heat. That will come when consensus hits.

Anyway, this weekend:

  1. Skyfall – $79.5 Million
  2. Wreck-It Ralph – $32 Million
  3. Flight – $14.7 Million
  4. Argo – $7.5 Million
  5. Taken 2 – $5 Million

So the Fall season has begun. Expect big numbers from Bond, it could go higher, though it’s hard to say if there’s going to be a little backlash at Quantum, which opened to $67 Million. But with Imax and the general “Holy S, this is one of the best Bond films ever!” buzz, that backlash shouldn’t be a problem.

What are you going to watch this weekend?