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Craig’s final Bond takes $56 million at domestic box office

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Craig’s final Bond takes $56 million at domestic box office

After over 18 months of pandemic delays, “No Time to Die” opened on target.

The final James Bond film of the Daniel Craig era grossed $56 million from 4,407 North American theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday, to easily take the first-place spot.

It didn’t break any pandemic or 007 records, but it didn’t fall significantly short either and is in fact the fourth-best opening in the 25-film series. James Bond isn’t Marvel when it comes to opening weekends. Bond has always had an older audience that is typically less inclined to rush out for the first weekend. In fact, the best Bond opening ever didn’t even crack $100 million. It was $88.4 million for “Skyfall,” which debuted in 2012.

“It’s been a long time coming to get this movie on the big screen,” Erik Lomis, the head of distribution for United Artists Releasing, said. “It’s right where we thought it would be and right where tracking predicted it would be.”

Cary Joji Fukunaga directed this installment, which co-stars Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek, as the antagonist.

Both critics and audiences have responded positively (84% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- CinemaScore). According to exit data, audiences were heavily male (64%) and over 35 (57%).

“I’m just really, really relieved that it’s in the cinemas and people are getting a chance to see it,” Craig said Sunday from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I am incredibly proud of it, as I am of all the movies, but I was just desperate for people to go and see this in a big group, like coming here today. It’s what we do. We’re a social species, we need to get together.”

Craig was the honorary starter at the NASCAR playoff race where he waved the green flag.

Unlike many films released during the pandemic, a streaming or hybrid release was never even a consideration for “No Time to Die.” In addition to being the longest Bond film ever at two hours and 43 minutes, it was also an expensive one with a reported production budget of around $250 million. And that doesn’t include marketing costs, which reportedly exceeded $100 million.

“Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are huge believers in the theatrical experience,” Lomis said of the film’s producers. “They delivered us a terrific movie and together we held it for theatrical. That was hugely important to us, to them and to the theater owners. And when you see this kind of result, it’s very gratifying.”

In second place was last week’s No. 1 film “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which fell 64% from its record $90 million launch, earning $32 million in its second weekend. The Sony sequel, which is also playing exclusively in movie theaters, has earned $185.6 million globally to date.

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

Gophers true freshman offensive lineman Saia Mapakaitolo has entered the NCAA transfer portal, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press on Monday.

Mapakaitolo appeared to be well under his listed 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds and he did not appear in a game in the 2021 season. The former Southern Cal commit from a Mesa, Ariz., joined the U’s class late in the cycle last year.

Minnesota has had a total of 10 players exit the program since October; one, defensive end MJ Anderson, announced Sunday he will go to Iowa State.

The full list also includes: running back Cam Wiley, guard Curtis Dunlap, defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, linebacker James “DJ” Gordon, tight end Austin Henderson and receiver Dylan Hillard-McGill and quarterbacks Zack Annexstad and Jacob Clark.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck said when current players first hit the portal in October that he anticipated more players would enter the portal in its second year.

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

The Timberwolves weren’t at full strength Monday against Atlanta, but they do finally seem to be trending in that direction.

Minnesota got Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns back in the lineup, while Patrick Beverley is quickly working toward his return.

McDaniels had a serious bout with the flu, in which Timberwolves coach Chris Finch joked the forward “lost the whole 10 pounds (he gained) all summer, which he could ill afford to do.” The illness knocked McDaniels out to the point where he was in bed for several days and unable to join the team on the road.

Saturday was the first day the forward finally felt “normal” and he was able to practice Sunday. Finch said McDaniels looked “pretty good” in the practice after missing two games.

Beverley was originally expected to miss at least two weeks with his groin injury, and then be re-evaluated at that point. That would’ve meant the Wolves looked at him at the end of this week, but he was questionable for Monday’s contest before he was eventually ruled out prior to tip-off.

Finch said the veteran guard played 5-on-5 hoops with the team’s low-minutes guys and a few coaches earlier in the day Monday.

“He had a really good run,” Finch said. “He’s inching closer and closer.”

A return to action Wednesday against Utah looks possible.

D’Angelo Russell missed Monday’s game with an ankle injury. That meant the Wolves were down three point guard options in Russell, Beverley and Jaylen Nowell. That pushed rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro into the starting unit.

Finch said Bolmaro — who wasn’t in the rotation as recently as two weeks ago until Beverley went down — was “really excited” about the opportunity. Finch said the Wolves needed Bolmaro’s size and defensive acumen to guard Trae Young.

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

The Gophers football program has officially brought back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator, the school said Monday.

Ciarrocca will return as OC and quarterbacks coach, a role he had under head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota from 2017-19. Ciarrocca left Minnesota after the 2019 season to become offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2020 and offensive analyst at West Virginia in 2021.

“Kirk is one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, but he is also a tremendous person,” Fleck said in a statement. “We have a long professional history of working together, and I look forward to reuniting with him.”

The Gophers play West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28, and while Ciarrocca restarted at Minnesota on Monday, he will not coach in the bowl game after conversations with Fleck and Mountaineers coach Neal Brown.

“We both agreed to not have Kirk coach in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with his knowledge of both teams’ personnel,” Fleck continued. “When we made the decision to hire Kirk, we did not yet know our bowl opponent. Coach Brown and I both thought this would be best to avoid any awkwardness for both sets of student-athletes. It’s the right thing to do.”

Matt Simon, the U’s wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator, will call offensive plays during the bowl game. He previously called plays in the Outback Bowl win over Auburn on New Year’s Day 2020.

Ciarrocca replaces Mike Sanford Jr., who was let go last week after the U’s performances didn’t come close to matching the heights of Ciarrocca’s best season in 2019. Sanford was at the end of a two-year contract paying him $663,000 per year.

Ciarrocca left Minnesota when he was set for a raise to $1 million per year in 2020; terms of his new deal were not shared, and the Gophers added his hire is pending Board of Regent approval.

Brown has known Ciarrocca for 20 years and had a lot of praise for him during a virtual bowl game news conference on Sunday.

“I think if you are talking about a system, the best thing that I can use is he is efficient,” Brown said. “If you look throughout his career, he’s been extremely efficient. I think he’s been able to find unique ways to run the football at every stop, regardless of what his personnel is. … He’s efficient, so when you are talking about an offensive coach. I think that is what we are all hunting and he’s done it better than most.”

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