Casino Royale has set a strong early pace, and given a glimpse of theanticipation and intrigue surrounding the title, in the UK on its first day ofrelease.

Launching Thursday in the UK the film, which reinvents theJames Bond franchise as a gritty, more real-world action adventure with DanielCraig taking the lead role, grossed an impressive $3.25m (£1.7m) in its firstday. This far outstripped the $2.1m (£1.1m) of 2002's final Pierce Brosnanouting, Die Another Day, which was previously the Bond series' best opening day performer.

All eyes will be on the UK this weekend as CasinoRoyale starts its international run in the UK at morethan 500 sites - and probably double that number of screens - some 70 sitesmore than Die Another Day.Although the film has a handful of day-and-date international launchesalongside the UK and North America debuts - including a sweep across EasternEurope's main territories including Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic -most key territories follow in subsequent weeks. The film is the first in the franchise released by Sony Pictures Releasing International, which will also handle the, as yet untitled, November 2008 follow-up.

The first-day figures provide a great vindication for therelaunch of the franchise. Reviews have been effusive, the best the series hasseen in years, with Craig embraced as the fresh face the character needed.However, a question mark always hovered over how audiences would take to agrittier, pared-down Bond. First day results have answered that questionputting Casino Royale on course to be the franchise's biggest launch, in line with previousoutings.

Die Another Day held the franchise's record with a $17.1m (£9.1m) openingweekend, including $4.2m (£2.2m) of previews. Each Bond film from GoldenEye to Die Another Day has successively topped the last'slaunch.

Die Another Day is also currently the highest-grossing Bond title in the UKand Ireland territory, where it claimed $67.8m (£36m). The highest admissionsthe series has seen still come from the Sean Connery days, however, with Thunderball (1965) achieving an estimated 15.6million admissions in the UK, ahead of Goldfinger's 13.9 million in 1964. DieAnother Day recordedan estimated 8.58 million admissions in the territory. All three films,alongside Roger Moore entries The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979) and Live And Let Die (1973), and Connery's You OnlyLive Twice (1967)rank in the British Film Institute's Ultimate Film list of the top 100 films inthe UK by total admissions.

CasinoRoyale is directed by GoldenEye director Martin Campbell and co-stars Eva Green,Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini and Judi Dench.