Office, Box Office
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?
|2||Quantum of Solace||$168,368,427||2008|
|4||Die Another Day||$160,942,139||2002|
|6||The World Is Not Enough||$126,943,684||1999|
|7||Tomorrow Never Dies||$125,304,276||1997|
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:
|4||You Only Live Twice||$299,439,300||$43,084,787||1967|
|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|
|11||The World Is Not Enough||$207,280,700||$126,943,684||1999|
|13||Quantum of Solace||$195,570,000||$168,368,427||2008|
|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|
|19||Never Say Never Again||$146,765,000||$55,432,841||1983|
|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.
The highest-grossing Bond flick, adjusted. (A history of Bond posters can be found here.)