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'Skyfall': Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever? + 'Lincoln' Far Surpasses Expectations

Skyfall Aston Martin and Daniel Craig: The most successful James Bond movie of all time?Skyfall with the Aston Martin DB5 and Daniel Craig as its driver, James Bond a.k.a. Agent 007. The 23rd James Bond movie in the series begun with Terence Young's Dr. No half a century ago, Sam Mendes' Skyfall may turn out to be the most successful Bond of all at the worldwide box office. Unfortunately, inflation and currency fluctuations make it all but impossible to figure out the number of tickets sold globally for past James Bond movies; but even if Skyfall hasn't managed to surpass the mammoth worldwide success of Guy Hamilton's Goldfinger (1964) and Young's Thunderball (1965), both starring Sean Connery, it has surely gotten pretty close. In the Skyfall cast: Daniel Craig as James Bond, Judi Dench as MI6 head M, Javier Bardem as MI6 agent-turned-cyberterrorist Raoul Silva, Ben Whishaw as MI6 quartermaster Q, Ralph Fiennes as Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman Gareth Mallory, Naomie Harris as MI6 field agent Eve Moneypenny, and Albert Finney as the Skyfall gamekeeper Kincade (a role initially considered for Connery).

'Skyfall' passes $1 billion milestone worldwide: Most successful James Bond movie ever?

Jan. 4: This past weekend, Dec. 28–30, the latest James Bond thrill ride, Skyfall, passed the $1 billion milestone at the worldwide box office.

Directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1999), and starring Daniel Craig as the indefatigable British spy – Agent 007 has been around for half a century (see further below) – the slick, mostly well-received actioner, even without the humongous Chinese market, has taken in $1,000,200,000 at Planet Earth's box office.

The vast majority of that billion (and change) came from outside the United States and Canada: $710.6 million (71 percent) internationally vs. $289.55 million (29 percent) domestically, according to figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

In fact, Skyfall had already become a worldwide blockbuster – $287 million after ten days – even before it opened in the U.S. That in itself is further evidence that the American movie market, though still the world's largest, is no longer the end-all for a film to achieve global blockbuster status.

Ignoring inflation and currency fluctuations, the $200 million-budgeted Skyfall is currently no. 14 on the all-time worldwide box office chart. Two other 2012 releases, both featuring a different kind of movie superhero(es), remain ahead:

'Skyfall' vs. previous Daniel Craig James Bond movies

For comparison's sake: the two previous James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig were Martin Campbell's Casino Royale (2006) and Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008).

Not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations, the former grossed $599.04 million worldwide ($431.6 million international; $167.44 million domestic); the latter raked in $586.09 million ($417.72 international; $168.36 million domestic).

As can be clearly seen, Skyfall is way ahead of its two Daniel Craig predecessors.

'Skyfall' vs. the 1960s' Sean Connery James Bond movies

Now, keeping things in perspective: once inflation is taken into account – as it always should to better reflect actual ticket sales – back in the mid-1960s Guy Hamilton's Goldfinger (1964) and Terence Young's Thunderball (1965), both starring Sean Connery, grossed approximately $532 million and $600 million, respectively, in North America alone.

There's more: according to The Hollywood Reporter, back in 1962 (in some countries, 1963 or later), the very first James Bond movie, Terence Young's Dr. No, grossed $43.4 million at the international box office. In 2012, that would represent approximately $330 million (not taking currency fluctuations into account).

An impressive figure made even more impressive when one remembers that back then markets such as China and the Soviet Union were basically closed off to international productions, while countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea were much smaller sources of revenue for the Hollywood studios than they are today.

In sum, it's theoretically possible that, once inflation is factored in, Goldfinger and/or Thunderball reached $1 billion at the worldwide box office. But if Skyfall isn't Planet Earth's biggest James Bond movie ever, it's surely one of the top two or three.

In the 50-year-old Dr. No cast: Sean Connery as Bond, Ursula Andress as the Venus-like Honey Ryder, and Joseph Wiseman as the titular doctor.

Biggest box office hit in a decade in the U.K.

Outside the U.S. & Canada combo, Skyfall's top market has been, unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom & Ireland combo, where the latest James Bond flick collected an astounding $158.36 million as of Dec. 16.

Skyfall is not only – by far – the U.K. & Ireland's biggest box office hit of the year, but also of the last decade, even after adjusting for inflation.

For comparison's sake:

Note: Avatar, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and The Avengers had the advantage of box-office-inflating 3D surcharges.

The U.K./Ireland were followed by (mostly up to Dec. 16):

  • Germany, with $77.11 million.
  • France, with $56.79 million.
  • Australia, with $39.36 million.
  • Russia/CIS, with $25.18 million.
  • The Netherlands, with $21.16 million.
  • Japan, with $18.94 million.
  • Italy, with $16.78 million.
  • Sweden, with $16.25 million.
  • South Korea, with $16.05 million.
  • Brazil, with $14.55 million.
  • Denmark, with $14.11 million.

Spring 2013 update: Skyfall ended up taking in $59.39 million in China. Worldwide total as found at Box Office Mojo: $1.108 billion ($804.2 million international; $304.36 million domestic).

Skyfall Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva: Cyberterrorist to earn Spanish actor his 4th Oscar nomination?Skyfall with Javier Bardem. Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, 2007) sports a mop of hideous blond hair in Skyfall, in which he plays former MI6 agent and current cyberterrorist Raoul Silva. There's a good chance that Bardem will be receiving his fourth Oscar nomination for his performance as the psychopathically murderous Silva – which has more than a few elements in common with his psychopathically murderous hitman Anton Chigurh in Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men. For the record, Bardem's other two Oscar nods, both in the Best Actor category, were for Before Night Falls (2000) and Biutiful (2010).

'Skyfall' particularly successful in northern latitudes

The Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark aren't countries usually found on lists of the biggest international box office territories. The fact that all three are featured here indicates that, relatively speaking, Skyfall was most successful in Europe's northern half.

Here is another example: with $12.71 million, Skyfall was 2012's no. 2 release in Norway. The James Bond movie trailed only that country's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki, which collected $14.1 million.

Now, Norway's Blockbuster to End All Blockbusters of this past decade was, you guessed it, Phyllida Lloyd's ABBA-scored Mamma Mia!, starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried, with $16.75 million in 2008.

In Finland, Skyfall is the top 2012 release by a wide margin: $8.14 million vs. runner-up Ice Age: Continental Drift with $3.8 million. In fact, Skyfall is Finland's second biggest movie of the last ten years (adjusted for inflation), behind only Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, toplining Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortensen, which pulled in the equivalent of about $8.5 million today.

Southern Europe takes different path

In Southern Europe, things have been different. In Portugal, Skyfall was no. 5 on the 2012 box office list. In Italy, it's the year's eighth biggest hit. In Spain, it's no. 13, having grossed less than half the amount earned by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.

Admittedly, in Greece Skyfall is the no. 1 box office hit of the year, with $5.71 million. Even so, the latest James Bond movie trails several other titles released since 2004 – sometimes by a wide margin.

Among them are (not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations):

  • The Hollywood-made, Ancient Greece-themed 300 (2006), with $11.37 million. Zack Snyder directed, Gerard Butler starred.
  • Avatar, with $10.64 million.
  • Mamma Mia!, with $7.39 million.
  • Another Hollywood-made, Ancient Greece-themed effort, Troy (2004), with $7.27 million. Wolfgang Petersen directed, Brad Pitt starred.
  • And the biggest hit of them all, Nicos Perakis' Greek army comedy Loafing and Camouflage: Sirens in the Aegean / Loufa kai parallagi: Seirines sto Aigaio (2005), with $11.68 million.

'Skyfall' weekend box office: Indisputably the biggest James Bond domestic debut ever

Nov. 11: On the Nov. 9–11 weekend at the North American box office, Skyfall collected $88.36 million (including $2.4 million from midnight shows) at 3,505 theaters, averaging $25,211 per site according to data found at Box Office Mojo. Adding to that figure the $2.2 million earned at IMAX screenings on Thursday, Skyfall currently has a domestic cume of $90.56 million.

That's quite a bit below initial predictions, which had Skyfall – already a megablockbuster internationally – opening north of $100 million in the U.S. and Canada. On the positive side, it's quite a bit above the much more modest $75 million Sony Pictures claimed (“claimed” is the key word here) to have been expecting after Friday figures were in. (As per Deadline.com, other studios were predicting – accurately, as it turned out – an $88 million debut.)

But above or below expectations, the Sam Mendes-directed thrill ride starring Daniel Craig indisputably boasts the biggest North American opening weekend ever for a James Bond movie, even after taking inflation into account. Having said that, let's not compare apples to Apple stores: no Sean Connery or Roger Moore James Bond movie ever opened at 3,505 venues – not even close.

For instance, the last Bond flick starring Roger Moore, A View to a Kill, opened at 1,583 sites in 1985, while Sean Connery's final Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, opened at 1,550 locations in 1983.

Going a little further back, Roger Moore's The Spy Who Loved Me was released at only 200 sites in 1977.

Skyfall Daniel Craig: Most successful James Bond film in 21st century + biggest hit in actor's careerSkyfall with Daniel Craig. As the James Bond movie franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary, the latest Agent 007 flick could well be the most successful ever at the worldwide box office. But if inflation and currency fluctuations make it all but impossible to compare Skyfall's ticket sales to those of the mid-1960s megablockbusters Goldfinger and Thunderball, both starring Sean Connery, it's pretty clear that the latest Bond entry is the most successful of the early 21st century, far surpassing the two previous efforts starring Daniel Craig, Martin Campbell's Casino Royale (2006) and Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008). By extension, Skyfall also happens to be – by far – the most successful release in Daniel Craig's two-decade film career. Curiously, it has been particularly successful in Northern Europe; less so in the southern half (or so) of the continent.

Daniel Craig James Bond films: 'Skyfall' vs. 'Quantum of Solace' and 'Casino Royale'

Instead of comparing the opening weekend take of Skyfall to those of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore James Bond movies of long ago, it would make more sense to check out how Skyfall fares against Daniel Craig's previous Agent 007 entries:

  • Made for a reported $150 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), Casino Royale opened at 3,434 locations in November 2006, collecting $40.83 million (approx. $49.5 million adjusted for inflation), averaging $11,890 per site ($14,400 adjusted).
  • The $200 million-budgeted Quantum of Solace debuted at 3,451 venues in November 2008, collecting a much stronger $67.52 million (approx. $74.6 million adjusted), averaging $19,568 per site ($21,600 adjusted).

Bear in mind that, when adjusted for inflation, Quantum of Solace is the more expensive movie when compared to the $200 million-budgeted Skyfall.

'Skyfall' cast

Besides James Bond no. 6* Daniel Craig, the Skyfall cast includes the following:

Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, 1998).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, 2007).

Two-time Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (as Best Supporting Actor for Schindler's List, 1993; as Best Actor for The English Patient, 1996).

Naomie Harris. Bérénice Marlohe. Ben Whishaw. Helen McCrory. Ola Rapace. Rory Kinnear. Nicholas Woodeson.

In a role briefly considered for Sean Connery – in honor of the James Bond series' 50th anniversary – five-time Oscar nominee Albert Finney (as Best Actor for Tom Jones, 1963; Murder on the Orient Express, 1974; The Dresser, 1983; Under the Volcano, 1984; as Best Supporting Actor for Erin Brockovich, 2000).

The Skyfall screenplay is credited to The Aviator's John Logan, and the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Adele sings Skyfall's theme song.

Skyfall currently boasts a 90 percent approval rating and 8.2/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

As an aside, director Sam Mendes had previously worked with Daniel Craig on the 2006 crime drama Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks.

James Bond actors

* The previous James Bond actors featured in the big-screen franchise were:

  • Sean Connery.
  • George Lazenby.
  • Roger Moore.
  • Timothy Dalton.
  • Pierce Brosnan.

David Niven played Bond in the all-star spy spoof Casino Royale (1967), which has nothing in common with the Daniel Craig movie.

Additionally, before anybody else, in 1954 Barry Nelson played James Bond in one episode – “Casino Royale” – of the TV anthology series Climax!.

See also: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey box office: Trailing The Lord of the Rings movies?

Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis as US President Abraham Lincoln: Serious Steven Spielberg surely Oscar contenderLincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. Initially known as a filmmaker whose target audience consisted of pre-teens, teenagers, and assorted movie-thrill seekers – i.e., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – Steven Spielberg began expanding his range with the highly successful melodrama The Color Purple (1985). Since then, Spielberg has mixed commercial fluff/thrill rides (Always, Hook, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) with generally well-received serious-minded fare (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, War Horse). A look at U.S. President Abraham Lincoln – best remembered as the man who helped to put an end to slavery on U.S. soil – Lincoln belongs to the latter group. Like many of its predecessors, this latest Serious Spielberg will surely end up a Best Picture Academy Award contender.

'Lincoln' box office: Stronger than expected debut

In other Nov. 9–11 box office news, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, opened with a remarkable $944,308 at 11 North American locations. Its per-theater average was $85,846 – the 23rd highest ever; or rather, since 1982 and not factoring in inflation.

On Box Office Mojo's “highest per-theater average” chart (i.e., post-1982), Lincoln is found sandwiched between Tom Hooper's eventual Best Picture Oscar winner The King's Speech ($88,863), starring Colin Firth, and Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha ($85,313), starring Ziyi Zhang.

Spielberg's period political drama is also quite a bit ahead of David O. Russell's 2010 sleeper hit The Fighter ($75,003), starring Mark Wahlberg, and Stephen Gaghan's 2005 (current) political drama Syriana ($74,900), featuring George Clooney.

Adjusted for inflation, Lincoln had a still-remarkable – though somewhat less impressive – opening: it's no. 56* on the all-time chart, sandwiched between Oliver Stone's eventual Best Picture Oscar winner Platoon ($85,992) and Davis Guggenheim's eventual Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth ($85,257).

Now, Platoon and An Inconvenient Truth opened at, respectively, six and four locations. Remember, all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average should be. (It should be noted that the number of available seats per theater is unknown.)

In terms of box office performance in relation to number of theaters, a better comparison to Lincoln would be Jason Reitman's eventual Best Picture Oscar nominee Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, which averaged an inflation-adjusted $82,178 at 15 venues in early December 2009.

* Curiously, Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted per-theater averages don't seem to reflect box office actuals, but the adjusted amount based on weekend estimates.

How far will 'Lincoln' go?

Up in the Air went on to gross a solid – though hardly blockbustery – $82.83 million domestically – or (approx.) an inflation-adjusted $85 million. But to expect Lincoln to follow a similar trajectory to that of Reitman's modern-day, socially conscious comedy-drama would be foolish as the two movies have radically different themes and star attractions.

Better comparisons would be a couple of Oscar-winning political dramas about historical leaders played by actors who were not box office draws:

  • Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982), starring Ben Kingsley, cumed at an adjusted $133 million.
  • Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (1987), starring John Lone, cumed at $85 million.

For the record, Daniel Day-Lewis' most recent two movies failed to crack the $50 million mark in the domestic market:

  • Rob Marshall's big-budget, all-star musical Nine (2009) cumed at a paltry $19.67 million.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson's drama There Will Be Blood (2007), which earned Day-Lewis that year's Best Actor Academy Award, took in $40.22 million.

And then there's Rebecca Miller's indie The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005), which topped at a measly $712,275.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire competitor

The Steven Spielberg-Daniel Day-Lewis collaboration's mainstream appeal will be put to the test next weekend. Next Friday, Lincoln will expand to 1,500 U.S. and Canada venues.

Competition from Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, should not affect Lincoln's performance.

Whereas the Twilight moviegoers tend to be very young and very female, according to reported “moviegoers' profiles” Lincoln's first-weekend audience consisted mostly (67 percent) of those over 35, skewing male (55 percent).

Spring 2013 update: Largely thanks to enthusiastic reviews, plenty of awards season buzz, and a Best Actor Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln far surpassed expectations in the domestic market, ultimately cuming at $182.2 million.

As expected, the political drama about a pivotal time in U.S. history had a much weaker pull internationally: Lincoln collected a respectable though hardly outstanding $93.08 million, as per figures found at Box Office Mojo.

Lincoln Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln: Actress looks nothing like real-life person but may get Oscar nodLincoln with Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's period political drama Lincoln focuses on the president's efforts to ensure that the House of Representatives would approve the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. A secondary figure in Spielberg's movie and in U.S. history, Mary Todd Lincoln was the president's wife; two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Sally Field (Norma Rae, 1979; Places in the Heart, 1984), who looks nothing like the real-life Mary Todd, plays her in the film – a role that, albeit minor, could eventually earn Field a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Among the previous big- and small-screen Mary Todd Lincoln portrayers are: Kay Hammond* (Abraham Lincoln, 1930); Marjorie Weaver (Young Mr. Lincoln, 1939); Ruth Gordon (Abe Lincoln in Illinois, 1940), Julie Harris (The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, 1976); Mary Tyler Moore (Lincoln, 1988); and, earlier this year, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). * This American actress is not to be confused with the British stage and film actress featured in Sleeping Car and Blithe Spirit.

Lincoln movie cast

In addition to two-time Best Actor Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot, 1989; There Will Be Blood, 2007), the male-dominated Lincoln cast includes the following:

Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Sally Field (Norma Rae, 1979; Places in the Heart, 1984) as Mary Todd Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, 1993).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild, 2007).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck., 2005).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter's Bone, 2010).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. James Spader. Lee Pace. Tim Blake Nelson. Jared Harris. Joseph Cross. Bruce McGill. Michael Stuhlbarg.

Tony Kushner was credited for the screenplay based on several segments found in Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Strong reviews and early Oscar buzz surely have helped Lincoln's domestic box office performance. The historical drama about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's fight to put an end to slavery in the United States currently boasts a 94 percent approval rating and 8.4/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Check out: Lincoln trailer (HD).

See also: Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly box office: Brad Pitt's worst wide debut ever.


Images of Javier Bardem, the Aston Martin DB5, and Daniel Craig in Skyfall: François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures.

Images of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln: DreamWorks / Walt Disney Studios.

'Skyfall': Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever? + 'Lincoln' Far Surpasses Expectations © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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5 Comments to 'Skyfall': Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever? + 'Lincoln' Far Surpasses Expectations

  1. Petra Valadares

    Javier Barden sure looks like CLODOVIL here.
    Clodovil was a Brazilian TV personality, clothing designer and even a politician: wikipedia.org/wiki/Clodovil_Hernandes

  2. Kg

    The movie is full plot holes ,melodramatic and in parts boring . Memo to DC and JD this is James Bond not audition for actors studio. We need all the mambo jumbo abut motivation .


    The movie is a great story about an american president that let GOD lead him in abolishing slavery.Daniel Day Lewis will go down in history as the best lincoln ever.This film will win multiple oscar nominations.I am very thankful to have a bit part in this extraordinary story.Steven Spielberg is the greatest visionary of our time.Thank you Mr Spielberg for bringing a great president to life. THOMAS WINSTON

  4. baptiste

    in other words this movie will take the gas when it releases wide or just go straight to on demand. Daniel Day Lewis is sooooo good again just give him the statue now. His new sequel is My right thigh.

  5. John

    The more I see reviews of this movie, the more I realize I have to see it soon. I was a bit skeptical, but now I'm finding more of a reason to see this flick.