The Spies Who Loathe Me – Why James Bond is a franchise target

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success.  Why?

Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations.  James Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.
But is there a challenger?
Join Tom and Dan as they investigate why James Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and what about George Smiley?
Episode Notes

The Spies Who Loathe Me!

Why other spy franchises despise Bond!

Hi, this is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato from SpyMovienavigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Move Fans – spy movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more! If you like our podcasts, please give us a 5-star rating on iTunes and in Google Play – that helps us a lot! Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and on Instagram too. And when you have feedback, an idea for a podcast, something you want to say – just click the red button on our website that says “Send us a Voicemail”, or send us a message from our Facebook page – and we may include it on our show!

Why Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and the Atomic Blonde movement!

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success. Why? Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations. Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.

In 1962, the movie franchise took its first big steps with Dr. No.   Dr. No costs about $1million to produce and grossed worldwide over $59,000,000 which gave EON Productions a pretty good start in the James Bond 007 franchise business. Just as a reference point, this is at a time when the average household income in the United States was about $5,700 or so, and in the UK, for a male, it was about 815 British Pounds a year. So, $1 million was a lot of money!

Follow Dr. No up with a smash, From Russia With Love (1963) (production costs of $2 million and a worldwide gross of almost $79 Million) and EON was rolling in the dough.   Rolling in the dough for a motion pictures producer is a very good thing. Then comes, Goldfinger (1964) – a huge success financially (production costs of $3 Million and a worldwide gross of almost $125 Million), and the money kept rolling in. You can fund a lot of projects with the revenue produced by these three movies alone. And this is from worldwide box office receipts.   Nothing to do with licensing of images, toys, etc.

And look around. There is no other spy movie franchise to be seen.   Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hitched their wagon to a star in the Ian Fleming James Bond 007 franchise.   Fleming was happy, now the Fleming estate is happy, and 24 James Bond 007 movies later (long out of Fleming material) the franchise may have suffered some stomach issues at times, but always relieved its indigestion with new, fresh content and writing, music, directorship and more.

You can look at the numbers yourself – in general, this franchise has made a lot of money. But why?

Here are the stats of what EONB Productions has done since 1963:

This is from https://www.The-Numbers.com

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Nov 6, 2015 Spectre $300,000,000 $70,403,148 $200,074,175 $879,620,923
Nov 8, 2012 Skyfall $200,000,000 $88,364,714 $304,360,277 $1,110,526,981
Nov 14, 2008 Quantum of Solace $230,000,000 $67,528,882 $169,368,427 $591,692,078
Nov 17, 2006 Casino Royale $102,000,000 $40,833,156 $167,365,000 $594,420,283
Nov 22, 2002 Die Another Day $142,000,000 $47,072,040 $160,942,139 $431,942,139
Nov 19, 1999 The World is Not Enough $135,000,000 $35,519,007 $126,930,660 $361,730,660
Dec 19, 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies $110,000,000 $25,143,007 $125,304,276 $339,504,276
Nov 17, 1995 Goldeneye $60,000,000 $26,205,007 $106,429,941 $356,429,941
Jul 14, 1989 Licence to Kill $42,000,000 $8,774,776 $34,667,015 $156,167,015
Jul 31, 1987 The Living Daylights $40,000,000 $11,051,284 $51,185,000 $191,200,000
May 24, 1985 A View to a Kill $30,000,000 $13,294,435 $50,327,960 $152,627,960
Oct 7, 1983 Never Say Never Again $36,000,000 $10,958,157 $55,500,000 $160,000,000
Jun 10, 1983 Octopussy $27,500,000 $8,902,564 $67,900,000 $187,500,000
Jun 26, 1981 For Your Eyes Only $28,000,000 $6,834,967 $54,800,000 $195,300,000
Jun 29, 1979 Moonraker $31,000,000 $7,108,344 $70,300,000 $210,300,000
Jul 13, 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me $14,000,000 $1,347,927 $46,800,000 $185,400,000
Dec 20, 1974 The Man with the Golden Gun $7,000,000 $21,000,000 $97,600,000
Jun 27, 1973 Live and Let Die $7,000,000 $35,400,000 $161,800,000
Dec 17, 1971 Diamonds Are Forever $7,200,000 $43,800,000 $116,000,000
Dec 18, 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Ser… $8,000,000 $22,800,000 $82,000,000
Jun 13, 1967 You Only Live Twice $9,500,000 $43,100,000 $111,600,000
Dec 29, 1965 Thunderball $9,000,000 $63,600,000 $141,200,000
Dec 22, 1964 Goldfinger $3,000,000 $51,100,000 $124,900,000
Apr 8, 1964 From Russia With Love $2,000,000 $24,800,000 $78,900,000
May 8, 1963 Dr. No $1,000,000 $16,067,035 $59,567,035
Averages $63,248,000 $29,333,838 $84,556,876 $283,117,172
Totals 26 $1,581,200,000 $2,113,921,905 $7,077,929,291

James Bond had a worldwide appeal.   Ian Fleming wrote the Bond series based partially on some real stuff that he knew from his Naval Intelligence experience during World War II, and part on fantasy – his own fantasies. He imbued Bond with a lot of things that Fleming himself loved in life – fine cottons and linens for clothing, great drink, food, and women.

Every guy in the world in the early 1960s could look at Bond longingly, and try to emulate him. But it was hard to be Bond in real-life.   And expensive.   But the entire montage of what Bond was, was very appealing. Men wanted to be like him, and women wanted to be with him.

Nonetheless, the women portrayed in the films were very strong women.   We have a whole podcast of Bond women, and how strong they were.   Start with THE Bond woman – Honey Rider from Dr. No, played by Ursula Andres. Does any spy movie fan not have emblazoned in their brain Honey Rider walking out of the water?   These are the kinds of things the EON folks did so well.   And who was Honey Rider? A strong character. She meets Bond on the beach, and she had been collecting shells.   She sees Bond, and she goes for her knife at her left side.   He says “I promise you I won[t steal your shells,” to which she quips, “I promise you, you won’t either.” She later tells Bond how she once killed a man who raped her by putting a poison spider in his bed at night. OK – she is tough.

And what’s happening in other spy move franchises so far at that time. Nothing.   Nothing was challenging Bond.

TV shows came out in the 1960s as a result of Bond’s success: “Mission: Impossible,” “The Avengers,” and more – all capitalizing on the tremendous interest in spies, particularly Bond.

There were plenty of spy movies before Bond – going back to The 39 Steps in 1935, to dozens in between and since. But no real franchises to challenge Bond.   Basically, EON Productions had a monopoly of sorts on the spy genre, and audiences loved just about everything they put out. As you heard, some films did better than others in the worldwide box office – but they made money – 24 times. And Craig’s movies have done very well, with Skyfall topping the billion dollar mark, and all of Craig’s movies together (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and SPECTRE grossed over $3 Billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Billion with a B!

And the franchise competition is….. where?

So, as Enrico Fermi once commented on the possibility of the universe teaming with life, “Then where is everybody?” Same here! Where is everybody?

Think about it – Bond has been dominant throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s without a serious threat of another franchise decoding their success!

Remember – Pierce Brosnan first played Bond in 1995 in Goldeneye but there had been about a 6 year wait between Timothy Dalton’s Licence to Kill and Goldeneye – that’s a long time. Bond fans were hungry. Goldeneye was very successful, grossing over $356m worldwide. But the delay between films had other film makers thinking. But Bond seemed to survive the long gap between films – audiences were loving Bond again. But will more delays in Bond film productions be coming, or are they back on schedule?   Well, the Brosnan Bond movies came out in pretty quick succession: Goldeneye in 1995; Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997; The World is Not Enough in 1999, and Die Another Day in 2002. Seems like EON Productions was back on track producing the Bond films.

So – that is good and bad for other producers. Good in that the interest level of the audiences around the world was high.   Bad, in that the only franchise in spy movies was back on track and audiences were accepting the new Bond after waiting so long.

 

The First Assault on Bond

There were other spy movies in the 1990s, including three Jack Ryan movies based on the books of Tom Clancy that came out in the 1990s, The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994), with additional ones to come (The Sum of All Fears 2002, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 2014).   This was the biggest assault on Bond to date. Three Jack Ryan films produced and released during the Bond hiatus. Why? Because Jack Ryan was the first “spy” to loathe Bond. Why should Bond be raking in all the dough for over 3 decades?   Let’s take some of his money and cash in on the absence of Bond from 1989 until 1995! Come on, Jack Ryan was just as cool.

And there were many other spy movies in the 1990s like The Russia House (1990), Ronin in 1998 and other spoofs and comedies like Spy Hard in 1996 and Austin Powers International Man of Mystery in 1997. But none of these amounted to any kind of assault on Bond.

But the Jack Ryan “franchise” had a variety of actors playing Jack Ryan, who was really an analyst for the CIA and not officially a spy. EON Productions made an attempt for some consistency in who Bond was: Sean Connery for 6 movies, Roger Moore for 7, Brosnan for 4, Craig for 5.   There were some exceptions like George Lazenby for one (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Timothy Dalton for only two.

But Jack Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), Harrison Ford played him twice – the most consistency – in Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), then Ben Affleck in the 2002 The Sum of All Fears, and then Chris Pine (of Star Trek fame) in 2014 in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. And when The Sum of All Fears came out in 2002, so did Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The Sum of All Fears had a much bigger success in the US and had less worldwide cache than Bond, grossing a total of about $194M worldwide (over 62% US revenue) versus Tomorrow Never Dies, grossing over $339M worldwide, with just about 37% of that being US. So, yeah, Jack Ryan loathes Bond!

Mission: Impossible Assault . . . and here comes Jason Bourne on the western front!

When Mission: Impossible (1) came out in 1996, it was a single movie – so not yet a threat, but it came out between Goldeneye – 1995 (which was a hit) and Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997.   So, pretty good timing to launch the Mission: Impossible test balloon.   Will it do well? Will people take to it who liked the television show from the 1960s? Would the 2 year stint of The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) television redo from October of 1988 – September of 1990 carry over interest? Would it do well enough to want to do another?

Hey, it was a casino play: It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.   First, they were building on a foundation that was a solid foundation in the 1960s television show – audiences loved that show.   So they had a somewhat known commodity. This was good thinking.   Much like Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had a pretty-well known commodity in Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 novels – yet they were books, not television or movie productions yet – not counting the made for TV Casino Royale starting American Nelson Barry as Jimmy Bond in 1954.

Mission: Impossible featured a hot Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, as the main character, Ethan Hunt.   They were going after Bond. But one step at a time.   But let it be known: Mission: Impossible (1) began a serious assault on Bond. Why? Because Ethan Hunt and the IMF team loathes Bond!   Bond was unchallenged all these decades. Success and success, billions after billions of dollars.   Why was Bond untouched all these years?   Mission:: Impossible (1) was throwing down the gauntlet, and cracking the spy movie success code, and pushing Bond around for the first time.   That was the plan. But did the assault begin?

Here are some Mission: Impossible numbers from the same source, The-Numbers.com:

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Jul 27, 2018 Mission: Impossible—Fallout $178,000,000 $61,236,534 $220,159,104 $787,456,552
Jul 31, 2015 Mission: Impossible—Rogue N… $150,000,000 $55,520,089 $195,042,377 $688,858,992
Dec 16, 2011 Mission: Impossible—Ghost P… $145,000,000 $12,785,204 $209,397,903 $694,713,230
May 5, 2006 Mission: Impossible III $150,000,000 $47,743,273 $133,501,348 $397,501,348
May 24, 2000 Mission: Impossible 2 $120,000,000 $57,845,297 $215,409,889 $549,588,516
May 21, 1996 Mission: Impossible $80,000,000 $45,436,830 $180,981,886 $457,697,994
Averages $137,166,667 $46,761,205 $192,415,418 $595,969,439
Totals 6 $823,000,000 $1,154,492,507 $3,575,816,632

In 1996, Mission: Impossible (1) launches dramatically with a worldwide gross of over $457M – a little more that the Bond’s franchise gross of their 20th movie.   In other words, Mission: Impossible was starting off big – when that fuse lit, the rocket it launched was loud, fiery and smooth! Bond was looking over his shoulder at a contender, and the assault was on. With this great success, the IMF team continued to put the pressure on Bond, with their second installment 4 years later, with Mission: Impossible 2, grossing over $457M worldwide -and guess what? M:I has a worldwide appeal! With only 39% of its box office receipts coming from domestic US for the first, and only a little over 37% for M:I 2! OK, the IMF team is kicking some ass!

So between Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and waiting for Bond to do something since 2002 – here comes Jason Bourne – with The Bourne Identity launch in 2002. If this new spy takes off, the assault on Bond could be on multiple fronts, and harder to defend.   The Bourne Identity is filling in gaps between Bond films and now Mission: Impossible films. But the first Bourne grossing only $214 M worldwide, with over 56% coming from domestic box office sales. But before another Bond film comes out of another M:I films comes out, The Bourne Supremacy is launched in 2004, grossing a respectable $311M worldwide, maintaining a high domestic box office of 56%.   Not as much worldwide appeal so far, with domestic gross lower than either of the first two M: I films.

Mission: Impossible III (2006) grossed only $397M, with only 33% coming from domestic. It came out after a 6 year gap between M:I 2 to this film.   Long time to wait. Will they have gaps like Bond did right when they were on a roll? And after the wait, it was the weakest revenue-wise of the new assault on Bond – and still, $397 M was not bad – so this assault is formidable!

But now, in 2006, Bond is back and with a vengeance: Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig as Bond for the first time, blows the doors off worldwide box office numbers with $594 M , with only 28% domestic US box office sales – maintaining his dominance as a worldwide spy! The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) comes out between Casino Royale and the next Craig Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008) and during another 5 year wait for the next M: I film! Even without the other spy franchises breathing down Jason’s neck, the film grossing $444M worldwide, with still a huge domestic percentage of the gross of 51%. The lack of competition helped the gross for sure, but still not as big a worldwide appeal, but not bad on this outing. And Bond comes in with the one-two punch with Quantum of Solace in 2008, grossing $591M worldwide, with only 28% domestic US box office receipts. Still dominating the world of spies.

Now, M: I Ghost Protocol is launched in 2011 – another long wait of 5 years – but is big in the worldwide box office grossing over $694m, with only 30% domestic box office – so its worldwide appeal continues.   This is an important point: to assault Bond, you need worldwide appeal. Domestic is not going to cut it. And M: I proved 4 times so far they have worldwide appeal.   But now we have another 4 year wait for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation hits the screens – time for Bond to lick his wounds and get stronger.

But in 2012 when Bond explodes on the screen with Skyfall, Bourne is right behind him with The Bourne Legacy. But wait – no more Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Craig has had two strong performances as Bond. So Skyfall launches, and smokes everything in site! It is hot. It grosses a whopping $1.1 Billion dollars. Billion! With only 27% of the gross domestic US. Boom! Bam! The Bourne Legacy flops, partly due to Matt Damon being out of the story, and part because of the dominance of Skyfall.   The Bourne Legacy grosses $280M worldwide, with 40% domestic box office receipts.

But it’s not over. The assault on Bond continues, as the spies who loathe him continue the advance.

While waiting another 4 years for a new Bond film (Spectre) will be in 2015). Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is on the same timing for the release of Spectre– so no resting for Bond during the 4 year wait – the IMF team is back and ready to kick ass again. They loathe Bond.

M: I Rogue Nation (2015) grosses the most of any M:I film to date: $688M worldwide, with only about 28% domestic.   This is huge. But Bond has his Kevlar on. Spectre grosses over $879M, with less than 23% domestic.   But now . . . Mission: Impossible and Bond are close! The closest ever in gross receipts, and the closest ever in worldwide versus domestic box office receipts. Wow!

But as Spectre wraps up in 2015, and in 2019, Bond 25 has still not been released – so another 5 year wait, both Mission: Impossible and Bourne reload.

Jason Bourne hits the screen in 2016, with Matt Damon back – and grosses $416M worldwide, the best since The Born Ultimatum in 2007, with a still high 38% domestic gate. But Jason Bourne is filling in the gap again for the Bond fans – and here comes Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018 – while we still wait for Bond!

Fallout grosses $787 M and only 28% domestic.    Jason Bourne, we think is finished.

And, again, we wait for Bond. In the meantime, Mission: Impossible announces Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 will come out in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They are putting severe pressure on the Bond folks. The next Bond, No Time To Die, launches spring of 2020. Then, the Bond franchise will go through a paradigm shift – maybe. Is Bond retired? Does Lashana Lynch really become 007? What will the franchise do? What will it look like in 2020+? All of this, while two more Mission: Impossibles will be out, sucking in huge revenues. While Bond waits.

So as EON Productions figures out their next Bond strategies, one of the franchises who loathes this spy is challenging the Bond dynasty internationally for a spot at the top.

Sometimes loathing pays off!

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Jul 29, 2016 Jason Bourne $120,000,000 $59,215,365 $162,192,920 $416,168,316
Aug 10, 2012 The Bourne Legacy $125,000,000 $38,142,825 $113,203,870 $280,355,920
Aug 3, 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum $130,000,000 $69,283,690 $227,471,070 $444,043,396
Jul 23, 2004 The Bourne Supremacy $85,000,000 $52,521,865 $176,087,450 $311,001,124
Jun 14, 2002 The Bourne Identity $60,000,000 $27,118,640 $121,468,960 $214,357,371
Averages $104,000,000 $49,256,477 $160,084,854 $333,185,225
Totals 5 $520,000,000 $800,424,270 $1,665,926,127