erik lundegaard

Office, Box Office

Skyfall poster

The highest-grossing Bond flick, unadjusted.

“Spectre,” which Patricia and I are going to see today, is the 25th incarnation of James Bond, not including the first two Casino Royales ('54 American TV; '67 movie spoof), and it's doing well enough at the box office. But apparently we've reached a saturation point. 

Here are the top 10 James Bond box office hits of all time—unadjusted. What do you notice? 

Rank Title Dom. Gross Year
1 Skyfall $304,360,277 2012
2 Quantum of Solace $168,368,427 2008
3 Casino Royale $167,445,960 2006
4 Die Another Day $160,942,139 2002
5 Spectre $143,387,879 2015
6 The World Is Not Enough $126,943,684 1999
7 Tomorrow Never Dies $125,304,276 1997
8 GoldenEye $106,429,941 1995
9 Moonraker $70,308,099 1979
10 Octopussy $67,893,619 1983

Since Pierce Brosnan took over the role in 1995, every James Bond flick has done better than the previous one. It was a stock that kept rising. “Spectre” is the market adjustment. It'll probably get to second place but won't get within $100 million of “Skyfall.”

Other observations: Bond didn't break the $100 million barrier until Brosnan. Kind of shocking, isn't it? And it didn't break the $200 million barrier until the last one, “Skyfall,” in 2012. So the original “Hunger Games” made more in three days than all but four James Bond movies did in their entire runs. 

That's unadjusted. If you adjust for inflation, things change. Big time:

Rank Title Adj. Gross Unadjusted  Year
1 Thunderball $623,832,000 $63,595,658 1965
2 Goldfinger $552,942,000 $51,081,062 1964
3 Skyfall $315,602,300 $304,360,277 2012
4 You Only Live Twice $299,439,300 $43,084,787 1967
5 Moonraker $233,613,400 $70,308,099 1979
6 Die Another Day $230,050,800 $160,942,139 2002
7 Tomorrow Never Dies $224,439,200 $125,304,276 1997
8 From Russia, with Love $222,371,000 $24,796,765 1963
9 Diamonds Are Forever $221,487,900 $43,819,547 1971
10 Casino Royale $212,075,200 $167,445,960 2006
11 The World Is Not Enough $207,280,700 $126,943,684 1999
12 GoldenEye $203,528,900 $106,429,941 1995
13 Quantum of Solace $195,570,000 $168,368,427 2008
14 Octopussy $179,756,400 $67,893,619 1983
15 The Spy Who Loved Me $175,172,400 $46,838,673 1977
16 Live and Let Die $166,695,600 $35,377,836 1973
17 For Your Eyes Only $164,438,400 $54,812,802 1981
18 Dr. No $157,646,000 $16,067,035 1963
19 Never Say Never Again $146,765,000 $55,432,841 1983
20 Spectre $138,891,400 $143,387,879 2015
21 On Her Majesty's Secret Service $133,760,000 $22,774,493 1969
22 A View to a Kill $118,235,300 $50,327,960 1985
23 The Living Daylights $109,179,100 $51,185,897 1989
24 The Man with the Golden Gun $93,532,900 $20,972,000 1974
25 License to Kill $72,826,900 $34,667,015 1987

If you adjust for inflation, “Thunderball” is the 29th biggest hit in U.S. box office history (although only the third biggest movie of 1965—behind “The Sound of Music” and “Dr. Zhivago,” both of which are in the top 10 all-time). 

In the early '60s, Bond was a stock that kept rising, too. Here are the adjusted domestic grosses of the first four movies: $157 million, $222, $552, $623. Bang zoom. Then two years off and a massive fall, back to $299. Then an even bigger fall to $133 in 1969. This last can be ascribed, in part, to a new actor, George Lazenby, taking over from Sean Connery, back when actors taking over iconic roles wasn't an everyday thing.

But what accounts for the drop between “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice”? Saturation? Too many Matt Helmish copies.

Or was it the difference between 1965 and 1967? 

In '65, it was all well and good to go see a movie about a British spy who travels the world and kills bad guys and sleeps with broads. By 1967, half the people who went to the previous one weren't interested anymore. Maybe they were a little more serious. They went to see “The Graduate” instead. Or “Bonnie and Clyde.” It was the beginning of the age of the ordinary hero or the anti-hero. And Bond was neither. 

No wonder for a time Bond's producers considered Adam West for the role. If West could turn Batman into a pop icon, surely he could ressurect Bond. 

As it was, with Roger Moore at the helm, it was still a long slow slog throughout the 1970s to reach the point where, in 1979, “Moonraker” eclipsed the adjusted box office of 1963's “From Russia with Love.” 

Then the '80s and a fall again. Then the casting of Brosnan and the steady rise. 

I'd like to think that the market adjustment of “Spectre” presages a more serious age for all of us, as “You Only Live Twice” seemed to. But then you look at the top of this year's domestic box office—“Jurassic World,” “Avengers/Ultron,” “Furious 7”—and you know, no, we're still not a serious country, Virginia. 

Thunderball poster James Bond

The highest-grossing Bond flick, adjusted. (A history of Bond posters can be found here.)

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Posted at 11:09 AM on Sat. Nov 21, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office  

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