'Skyfall': Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever Made?

Skyfall Aston Martin Daniel Craig: Biggest James Bond movie ever?Skyfall with the Aston Martin DB5 and Daniel Craig as 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.

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

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-budget 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 'Casino Royale' & 'Quantum of Solace'

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).

Casino Royale cost a reported $150 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses). Quantum of Solace was budgeted at a reported $200 million – thus pricier than Skyfall, once inflation is factored in.

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

'Skyfall' vs. 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 film productions, while countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Australia, 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.

For the record, in the 50-year-old Dr. No cast: Sean Connery as James Bond, Ursula Andress as the Venus-like Honey Ryder, and Joseph Wiseman as the titular doc.

Skyfall Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva: Cyberterrorist earning Spanish actor 4th Oscar nomination?Skyfall with Javier Bardem. Best Supporting Actor Oscar 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 latest characterization, as Silva has several elements in common with his psychopathic 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).

U.K.'s biggest box office hit in a decade

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' particularly successful in northern latitudes

The Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark aren't countries usually found on lists of the world's biggest box office markets. The fact that all three are featured here indicates that 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.

In case you're wondering, 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.

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Skyfall is Finland's 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, which pulled in the equivalent of about $8.5 million today.

Skyfall Ben Whishaw as MI6 quartermaster Q: Replacing Desmond Llewelyn + John CleeseSkyfall with Ben Whishaw as MI6 quartermaster Q. Not found in Ian Fleming's Bond novels, Q leads the research and development division of the British Secret Service. Desmond Llewelyn played Q in most James Bond movies, from Goldfinger all the way to The World Is Not Enough (1999; the year of Llewelyn's death). Curiously, in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Llewellyn is referred to as Major Boothroyd – as such, previously played by Llewelyn himself in From Russia with Love (1963) and Peter Burton in Dr. No. Prior to Ben Whishaw, John Cleese was Q in Die Another Day (2002).

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 economically troubled 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' had biggest James Bond domestic debut ever

Whether or not Skyfall is the most successful James Bond movie ever made, one thing is for certain: the Sam Mendes-directed thrill ride starring Daniel Craig indisputably boasts the biggest North American opening weekend ever for a Bond flick, even after taking inflation into account.

On opening weekend, Nov. 9–11, Skyfall collected $88.36 million (including $2.4 million from midnight shows) at 3,505 U.S. and Canadian theaters, averaging $25,211 per site according to data found at Box Office Mojo. (That's not including an extra $2.2 million earned at Thursday IMAX screenings.)

That was quite a bit below initial predictions, which had Skyfall – already a megablockbuster internationally – opening north of $100 million in North America. On the positive side, it was 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 had been predicting – accurately, as it turned out – an $88 million debut.

Having said all that, let's not compare apples and Apple stores: no Sean Connery or Roger Moore James Bond movie ever opened at more than 3,500 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.

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:

  • 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).
  • 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).
Skyfall James Bond Daniel Craig: Most successful in 21st century + actor's biggest hitSkyfall with Daniel Craig as Agent 007. 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. Although inflation and currency fluctuations make it all but impossible to compare Skyfall's global ticket sales to those of the mid-1960s megablockbusters Goldfinger and Thunderball, both starring Sean Connery, Skyfall is easily the most popular Bond entry of the early 21st century. By extension, it also happens to be – by far – the biggest hit in Daniel Craig's two-decade film career.

'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) as MI6 head M.

Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, 2007) as MI6 agent-turned-cyberterrorist Raoul Silva.

Two-time Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (as Best Supporting Actor for Schindler's List, 1993; as Best Actor for The English Patient, 1996) as Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman Gareth Mallory.

Ben Whishaw as MI6 quartermaster Q.

Naomie Harris as MI6 field agent Eve Moneypenny.

Bérénice Marlohe. Helen McCrory. Ola Rapace. Rory Kinnear. Nicholas Woodeson.

And as the Skyfall* gamekeeper Kincade – 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.

* Skyfall is the name of the Bond family estate in the Scottish Highlands.

James Bond actors

Below are the previous James Bond actors featured in the big-screen franchise:

  • 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. Merely pretending to be Bond in that critical misfire were Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Joanna Pettet, Barbara Bouchet, Terence Cooper, and Daliah Lavi.

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?” & “Political Drama Far Surpasses Expectations: Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.”


Images of Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, Ben Whishaw as Q, the Aston Martin DB5, and Daniel Craig in Skyfall: François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures.

Skyfall: Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever Made?” last updated in July 2018.

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2 Comments to 'Skyfall': Most Successful James Bond Movie Ever Made?

  1. 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 .

  2. 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.