007 becomes top 2006 film in U.K.

'Dead Man's Chest' forced into second place

Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Casino Royale.'

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'

By Archie Thomas
January 16, 2007

LONDON Sony's "Casino Royale" has become the U.K.'s top-grossing pic of 2006 thanks to another solid weekend holdover.

Last weekend, the Bond pic dipped just 20% to take 917,000 ($1.8 million).

Daniel Craig starrer has now scooped just over ($104 million) in nine frames, nudging it past the $103 million taken by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which opened July 7.

Launching in late November, "Casino Royale" got off to a fast start, banking $21.6 million in its first three days -- the third biggest bow in U.K. box office history. Fueled by strong word of mouth, "Casino Royale" did impressive biz over the holiday period.

The whammo take has vindicated Eon Prods.' decision to hand Craig the reins as 007. Prior to release, a number of Web sites and bloggers questioned the suitability of a blond actor from the blue-collar north of England to play the iconic British super spy.

On Friday Craig became the first Bond to be nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts actor award.