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Reaching for the Sky

Bond is back for his 23rd mission. Ian Sandwell explains how Skyfall looks set to maintain the momentum of the series.

Fifty years after Dr No launched the world’s longest-running film franchise, James Bond will celebrate his half-century with a 23rd official mission when Skyfall rolls out around the world from the end of October.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007. Co-starring Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench, early signs are encouraging that Skyfall could challenge Casino Royale’s series-high worldwide haul (based on unadjusted grosses) of $596.4m in 2006. The comparatively lacklustre critical response to Quantum Of Solace (2008; $591.7m) appears not to have had any effect on audience appetite for the forthcoming instalment.

Since launching on July 31, the official international trailer has attracted 3 million views on YouTube, compared with 2.7 million views for the first full-length The Dark Knight Rises trailer released in December 2011. Yet even that figure pales in comparison with the 7.4 million-plus views for the previous Skyfall teaser trailer, released on May 21.

As with the trailers for Casino Royale (directed by Martin Campbell) and Quantum Of Solace (Marc Forster) before it, both the Skyfall teaser and full trailer make no reference to Mendes or other talent involved, focusing instead on the iconic Bond. A similar approach was evident in the Skyfall teaser poster revealed in May: a black-and-white shot of Craig in the centre of the gun barrel motif, with no prominent detail other than the title and the 007 symbol.

‘If there’s a defining feature of Bond - more so than possibly any other franchise - it’s longevity’

Ian Lewis, Sky Movies

It is a marketing strategy which has paid dividends for both of Craig’s previous missions as Bond, not just in the UK - where Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace grossed $105.9m and $80.8m respectively - but in other markets such as Germany ($91.1m combined), France ($57.7m combined), Australia ($46m combined) and Japan ($40.7m combined). And while US returns of $167.4m for Casino and $168.4m for Quantum might not seem remarkable on the surface, they continued the burst of momentum the franchise received from the Pierce Brosnan Bond films, which culminated in $160.9m for Die Another Day in 2002.

Bond has even made inroads in China, where Quantum Of Solace amassed a $21m haul, the fifth highest internationally for the film. This was almost double Casino Royale’s $11.8m and China’s recent box-office boom bodes well for Skyfall in the territory.

As with the previous two Craig entries, Skyfall will arrive in the UK first on October 26, alongside the likes of France, Brazil and Russia, before rolling out worldwide through Sony across November with the key US opening scheduled for November 9.

It is not just in cinemas where Bond will make his mark this autumn: Sky acquired the UK TV rights to the entire franchise in April, including the two non-EON titles, 1967’s Casino Royale and 1983’s Never Say Never Again. It has since announced plans for an all-Bond channel - Sky Movies 007 HD - throughout October.

“If there’s a defining feature of Bond - more so than possibly any other franchise - it’s longevity,” says Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies. “We are pretty sure our customers will want to see more of Bond on Sky Movies post the launch of Skyfall, and we’ll be delighted to oblige. Ultimately, we go after the things we know our customers are passionate about. It’s not hard to see how passionate people - and that definitely includes me - are about Bond.”

October 5 - the day Dr No premiered in London in 1962 - also marked Global James Bond Day, with EON, MGM, Sony and Fox working on a day-long series of events to celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary. These included a global online and live auction organised by Christie’s in London and a full retrospective of the 22 films in the official series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (running until October 31).

MGM, Columbia Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films also unveiled Stevan Riley’s documentary Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007, which tells the story of the origins of Bond by focusing on Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, his producing partner Harry Saltzman and the original author of the books, Ian Fleming.

September 24 saw the release of the Bond 50 Blu-ray collection, with all 22 films together in one collection for the first time.

Five decades of 007 at the global box office

FilmRelease yearWorldwide gross (unadjusted)
Quantum Of Solace2008$591.7m
Casino Royale2006$596.4m
Die Another Day2002$431.9m
The World Is Not Enough1999$361.7m
Tomorrow Never Dies1997$339.5m
GoldenEye1995$356.4m
Licence To Kill1989$156.2m
The Living Daylights1987$191.2m
A View To A Kill1985$152.6m
Octopussy1983$187.5m
For Your Eyes Only1981$195.3m
Moonraker1979$210.3m
The Spy Who Loved Me1977$185.4m
The Man With The Golden Gun1974$97.6m
Live And Let Die1973$161.8m
Diamonds Are Forever1971$116m
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service1969$82m
You Only Live Twice1967$111.6m
Thunderball1965$141.2m
Goldfinger1964$124.9m
From Russia With Love1963$78.9m
Dr No1962$59.6m

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