"Die Another Day" took in an estimated $47 million to open at No. 1 at the U.S. box office -- ringing up the biggest debut for a James Bond movie.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" finished second, taking in $42.4 million and running its 10-day total to $148.5 million. The third installment of Ice Cube's "Friday" franchise -- "Friday After Next" -- opened in third with $13.1 million.
"The Santa Clause 2" finished fourth with $10.3 million, and a four-week total of $95 million. Eminem's "Eight Mile" grossed $8.7 million for fifth place, running its three-week total to $97.7 million. "The Ring" was No. 6 with $7.6 million, and a six-week total of $110.9 million.
The new Kevin Kline drama "The Emperor's Club" opened at No. 7 with $4.1 million. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" added $3.8 million to its total, now at $204.7 million.
Overall, the box office took in an estimated $154 million, an increase of 1 percent over the same weekend last year. For the year-to-date, the box office has grossed $7.98 billion, 11 percent ahead of last year's pace.
Thanksgiving weekend brings five major releases to U.S. theaters -- Disney's "Treasure Planet," "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights," George Clooney's sci-fi romance "Solaris," "Wes Craven Presents: They" and the action-thriller "Extreme Ops."
GoldDerby.com has observed that Nicholson's performance as a retired man reevaluating his life in "About Schmidt" has generated the most best actor buzz, but Michael Caine's work in "The Quiet American" has Oscar-watchers wondering whether Caine has pulled ahead of Nicholson.
At the same time, the show business-themed Web site pointed out that Day-Lewis is building his Oscar credentials as the villain of "Gangs of New York," which is increasingly the subject of best picture speculation.
Other prospects include Kevin Kline for "The Emperor's Club" and Nicolas Cage for "Adaptation." GoldDerby.com also suggested that newcomer Derek Luke could get some consideration for Denzel Washington's directorial debut "Antwone Fisher" -- which could also contend for best picture -- and Sam Rockwell ("Charlie's Angels," "Heist") could be in the running for "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."
Edward Norton is also getting some mention for his performance as a man saying his goodbyes as he heads off for prison in Spike Lee's "The 25th Hour." And Tom Hanks has to be considered a strong possibility for a best actor nomination for "Road to Perdition."
The awards season gets under way in earnest next Wednesday when the National Board of Review announces its choices for the best in movies in 2002. Oscar nominations will be announced on Feb. 11, and the Oscars will be handed out on March 23.
DICK CLARK KEEPS ON ROCKIN'
For the 31st consecutive year, Dick Clark will host "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve" -- a TV special counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until the New Year.
This year's show will once again originate from Times Square in New York, with Clark introducing videotaped concert performances from some of 2002 major tours -- including Alabama, James Taylor, Coldplay and hot newcomer John Mayer.
In all, Clark will host 3 1/2 hours of programming, broken up into three separate specials.
The telecast will feature "Spy TV" star Ali Landry -- who will introduce recording artists B2K, Kelly Clarkson ("American Idol"), Missy Elliott, Las Ketchup, Nelly, Rod Stewart, Third Eye Blind and Justin Timberlake.
RICHARD GERE TO GIVE AIDS SPEECH
Richard Gere will deliver a speech next week at a major international AIDS conference in New York.
Gere is scheduled to speak about AIDS in India on Dec. 3 at a World AIDS Day Symposium presented by the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
The symposium -- which is being held to observe World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 -- will focus on the growing threat of AIDS in Asia. Organizers will introduce amfAR's initiative in the region, TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training).
JONATHAN DEMME'S NEXT
According to a report in Daily Variety, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs") is in talks to direct Denzel Washington in the upcoming remake of "The Manchurian Candidate."
The 1962 original, starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, was directed by John Frankenheimer classic. The new project would reunite Demme and Washington, who worked together on the 1993 drama "Philadelphia."
'21 JUMP STREET' COMING TO BIG SCREEN
"21 Jump Street" -- the 1980s TV series that made Johnny Depp a star -- is being retooled for a feature film.
Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh, who created the TV show, will write the screenplay for the movie project. Depp starred with Peter DeLuise, Richard Grieco, Dustin Nguyen and Holly Robinson Peete as young-looking police officers working undercover as narcs at high schools.
Jackman plays the legendary Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's tale of "Dracula," but the twist is that in Sommers' story, Van Helsing has to do business not just with Dracula but also with Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. Beckinsale will play a woman whose family has it in for Dracula. The movie is due in U.S. theaters in May 2004.
In other casting news, Joan Cusack ("Toy Story 2," "Runaway Bride") has two projects lined up -- "The Stepford Wives" remake starring Nicole Kidman, and "School of Rock," starring Jack Black as a guy who gets kicked out of his band and goes to work as a substitute teacher.