Daniel Craig stars in the latest Bond movie, "Skyfall," which… (Handout )
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" and Sam Mendes' "Skyfall," the latest installment in the James Bond series, both enjoyed overflow crowds at theaters this weekend, including one venue of particular note -- the 1,012-seat Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills -- which had to turn away film academy members who showed up too close to the movies' 7:30 p.m. start times.
"Lincoln" screened Saturday night and, judging from the ovations afforded the post-screening panel -- director Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, leads Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, screenwriter Tony Kushner and composer John Williams -- the film appears poised to fulfill its promise as an awards-season juggernaut.
"You could feel the respect in the room, but it went beyond that," said one academy member in attendance. "It's not easy to make a movie about a mythical figure like Lincoln and do so in a way that reveals something you may not have known. It's a film that succeeds on just about every level."
Screening the following evening, "Skyfall" packed the Goldwyn too (there wasn't a seat left 10 minutes before the film began), but academy members were a bit more reserved in their applause for director Mendes, lead Daniel Craig and longtime series producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. This, despite the fact that many in attendance were old enough to have seen the first Bond movie, "Dr. No," when it premiered in 1962.
"It was a good movie, probably the best Bond, but that doesn't mean it belongs in the best picture category," one academy member, a screenwriter, said while the closing credits rolled.
"Skyfall" received more enthusiastic responses at its three guild screenings over the weekend, during which Mendes says he learned one interesting fact about the long-running series.
"There have been less producers -- four -- than there have been people playing Bond," Mendes said. "And you feel that. It's a family business."
And, right now, with worldwide box office at $518 million and climbing, business is good. For one academy member, that success should be a consideration when filling out ballots.
"There should be a place for really well-made commercial movies in the best picture category," the voter said. " 'Skyfall' will probably be on my ballot. And I think it will show up on a lot of others too."
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