True to its title, the latest James Bond release, Die Another Day, is showing no signs of defeat at the box office. After yielding the top spot to AOL Time Warner's(NYSE: AOL)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last week, the new 007 spy caper was the top draw over the weekend.

For the fledgling MGM(NYSE: MGM) studio, the Bond success is sweet on many levels. Product-placement deals with Ford(NYSE: F), Samsonite(Nasdaq: SAMC), and Brown-Forman(NYSE: BF.A) showcased cars, briefcases, and Finlandia vodka, respectively. And the Bond series of video games energized all three next-generation gaming platforms. For this to continue, the brand needs to be valuable, and grossing $120 million domestically through its first three weeks helps make the case for the franchise's viability.

But major releases are few and far between for MGM. While AOL Time Warner saw its Hogwarts' star pupil place third over the weekend, its own debut of Analyze That placed second. While Disney(NYSE: DIS) is suffering with a poor start for Treasure Planet, it can try to offset some of those losses with Santa Clause 2. The only other major MGM release in theaters right now is Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. Along with its United Artists studio, MGM had amassed only a paltry 3.8% market share of the stateside box-office receipts this year until the Bond release.

Because of its low profile, many of its multiplex winners, such as Barbershop earlier this year and Legally Blonde last year, tend to sneak up as sleeper hits. Then again, sneaking up is spy's work, and James Bond -- like MGM itself -- will live to die another day.

While MGM has turned a profit just once over the last five years, Wall Street is looking for it to be in the black in fiscal 2003. That's welcome news for a company whose income statements have often aped the Bond series' opening shots of a bloodied eye.

Let's just hope that tomorrow never dies.