With Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry joining Pierce Brosnan for the newest Bond adventure at 3,313 U.S. theaters, "Die Another Day" is expected to top the $35.5 million opening for the most recent Bond picture, "The World Is Not Enough" (1999).
"Chamber of Secrets" opened with $88.4 million, and Potter-watchers will be curious to see how much of that opening number the boy wizard surrenders in week two. The first Potter adventure, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," dropped 36 percent from its opening weekend to its second weekend last year.
The other two major releases this weekend are "Friday After Next," playing at 1,616 theaters, and the new Kevin Kline drama "The Emperor's Club," going to 808 theaters.
The U.S. box office heads into the weekend with an overall gross of $7.8 billion, 12 percent ahead of last year's pace.
EMMY-WINNER RETURNS TO DIRECT OSCARS SHOW
Three-time Emmy Award-winning director Louis J. Horvitz will be back in the Oscars TV control room for a seventh consecutive year to direct the 75th Anniversary Academy Awards telecast.
It will be Horvitz's fifth Oscars show collaboration with producer Gil Cates, who brought Horvitz on board for his first Oscar gig.
"Lou is a master at capturing the essence and heart of a show," said Cates. "I am very pleased to be working with a director who has the knowledge and experience necessary to make the 75th Awards a landmark event."
Horvitz has directed 10 big-time TV specials already this year -- including the 74th Academy Awards, the 28th Annual People's Choice Awards, the Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime with U2, the Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards and the American Film Institute Salute to Tom Hanks.
Horvitz has been nominated for eight directing Emmys, and 10 Directors Guild of America awards. He won Emmys for outstanding variety directing in 1996 ("The Kennedy Center Honors"), 1998 (the 70th Oscars) and 2000 (the 72nd Oscars).
The 75th Anniversary Academy Awards will be presented on March 23, 2003, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, in ceremonies to be telecast live by the ABC.
GROOMING A NEW BOSS AT DISNEY?
According to a report in Daily Variety, there is a growing perception that Disney CEO Michael Eisner considers the company's president Robert Iger as his heir apparent -- not that Eisner is ready to go any time soon.
In an interview for the Dec. 9 issue of Forbes, Eisner confirmed that he wrote to the Disney board recommending a successor in case he ever needs to be replaced. He wouldn't tell Forbes who he recommended, but the magazine reported that Eisner "implies" it is Iger and that "others in the know" confirm Eisner gave his blessing to Iger.
Eisner has been saying he will not talk publicly about a plan for succession until he is closer to a formal announcement of his own retirement, because that would make him a "lame duck" executive. Variety said a highly placed Disney insider suggested Eisner wants to give Iger a public buildup.
'AIRPLANE!' DIRECTOR GETS 'SCARY' GIG
David Zucker -- who made his name in Hollywood directing the silly comedies "Airplane!" "Top Secret!" "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" and "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear" -- will take over the "Scary Movie" franchise, now that Keenen Ivory, Marlon and Shawn Wayans have left the franchise they created.
"Scary Movie 3: Episode I -- Lord of the Brooms" is expected to start filming in March, featuring spoofs on current and recent fantasy and sci-fi movies, including "Harry Potter," "The Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars."
ALLEY, LINDO JOIN CBS TV MOVIE CAST
Kirstie Alley ("Veronica's Closet," "Cheers") will join Delroy Lindo ("The Cider House Rules") in the CBS TV movie "Profoundly Normal" -- based on the true-life story of Donna and Ricardo Thornton, a developmentally disabled couple who overcome obstacles to be married and raise a family.
The Thorntons made news when they survived on their own after the home where the lived for years was shut down.