“Bond, James Bond.”
Ian Fleming’s master spy hardly needs an introduction. Fifty years after the debut of the first Bond film, Dr. No, he still has his mojo. The buzz on Skyfall, the 23th film in the lucrative franchise and the third starring Daniel Craig, who may be reaching the pantheon of MPB (Most Popular Bond), is sky-high.
The only thing Hollywood treasures more than a good sequel is a good franchise, even those with diminished artistic and financial returns (we’re looking at you, Friday the 13th movies). In an industry focused on opening weekend box office, a sequel helps to minimize risk. A sequel with familiar characters comes to audiences practically pre-sold.
You can debate the best bond (Connery), the best film (Goldfinger), or the best Bond woman (Honor “Pussy Galore” Blackman). There's no controversy over the best Bond car. A new Facebook survey from Total Car Score released Monday finds the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfingerthe overwhelming choice.
But there’s no argument that James Bond is box office gold. Bond films have taken in $5.09 billion worldwide. The stakes have certainly risen. Dr. No had a $1 million budget. Skyfall’s is a reported $230 million.
Bond has a license to thrill on the collectables market as well. A Christie’s auction of Bond memorabilia on Friday brought in $2.6 million. Craig’s La Perla bathing suit from Casino Royale fetched $71,876. A poker table from the same film sold for more than $136,000, while the Aston Martin DBS from Quantum of Solace sold for $390,101. A collection of Hotel Fountainblue props from Goldfinger scored 8,750 pounds.
But the James Bond movie franchise is not the oldest. The man with the license to kill was preceded eight years earlier by a monster with a license to stomp: Godzilla. There have been 28 Godzilla films produced by Toho Studios in Japan. Another is due in 2014.
Nor is Bond the most lucrative movie franchise. That honor is held by boy wizard Harry Potter. The eight Potter films have conjured up $7.7 billion worldwide. Rounding out the top ten movie franchises of all time after Bond are:
3. Star Wars ($5.09 billion)
4. Pirates of the ($4.49 billion)
5, Shrek (3.72 billion)
6. Lord of the Rings ($2.93 billion)
7. Transformers ($2.66 billion)
8. Batman ($2.65 billion)
9, Twilight ($2.505 billion)
10. Spider-Man ($2.50 billion)
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.