Paul LaMonica Commentary:
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Blond, James Blond

Will Sony's gamble on a new actor in the iconic James Bond role turn "Casino Royale" into a huge hit?

By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- There is a new face in the familiar role of 007...and it's causing one of the bigger movie controversies in recent memory.

"Casino Royale," the latest film in the James Bond franchise, will hit theaters on November 17. The relatively unknown actor Daniel Craig is taking over as the British secret agent who has a penchant for martinis, Aston Martins and beautiful women.

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Some fans can't wait to see Daniel Craig take over as 007 but others think Pierce Brosnan should still be James Bond.

And the casting of Craig has caused an online furor.

Some fans support the choice of Craig and hope that his portrayal of Bond will be more like the spy they loved from the original Sean Connery films.

But others have attacked Craig for things ranging from his acting choices (he played murderer Perry Smith of "In Cold Blood" fame in this year's "Infamous" and has a scene where he kisses Truman Capote) to his looks. He's the first Bond to have blond hair, for example.

Advance critical buzz for the movie has been pretty good so far though. And if "Casino Royale" is as successful as the previous four Pierce Brosnan Bond films (each grossed more than $100 million at the box office in the U.S.) then that would be the latest bit of great news for the movie's producer, Sony. (Charts)

According to movie industry research firm BoxOfficeMojo, Sony is the most successful studio this year, with about 18 percent market share of ticket sales in the U.S.

That puts Sony slightly ahead of Disney's (Charts) Buena Vista studio and comfortably in front of News Corp.'s (Charts) Fox, Viacom's (Charts) Paramount, Time Warner's (Charts) Warner. Bros. and GE's (Charts) Universal in the battle for this year's box office crown. (Time Warner also owns CNNMoney.com.)

So will Sony have another huge hit on its hands or will Daniel Craig wind up being the next Timothy Dalton or George Lazenby?

  • The reporter of this story owns shares of Time Warner through his company's 401(k) plan.
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