Recently, a friend gave a nice review of the latest Bond movie, Casino Royale. It seems to be closer to the feel and style of the books. Yesterday I was talking to a friend about his opinion, and as usually happens the talk turned to the best Bond and the best movie. Now this is a purely subjective topic, and to date there are 20 Bond movies, not counting Casino Royale. So to facilitate our “discussion we went to the Wikipedia listing. It had some nice information, and mentioned that many critics thought From Russia with Love or Goldfinger was the best movie (I’m not going to discuss the latest picture, since I didn’t see it). Being fairly intelligent, the article didn’t even bother to mention which was the best Bond actor!
Anyway, today I noticed some numbers on the page, and I thought about how this franchise has been around long enough to look at trends. So I dumped the data into my data analysis package and played with them. I came to some interesting conclusions, which I am prepared to share with you. I already see some eyes glazing over.
There’s just a few things to notice about the performance of the movies. First, the sales versus the budgets are wonderful until the Brosnan era (movies 17 to 20); but even then they were grossing 3-4 times the budget. The ratio was best during the Connery era, when Dr. No grossed $60 million for a budget of $1 million. Also, the total sales basically doubled because of Brosnan. Second, the US only accounts for a third or less of the sales; the Bond movies do much better around the world than in the US. Third, from the bottom graph of figure 1, you could get the impression that the US makes the movie break even, while the rest of the world is pure profit.
Figure 2: Sean Connery
From an investment and profit ratio standpoint, Connery is by far the best. He never goes below 11-1 and his best ratio is 60-1, with Dr. No. He made the most money with Thunderball, second with Goldfinger, and the least with Dr. No. From a capitalistic standpoint, he was the biggest bang for the buck.
Figure 3: Roger Moore
Moore’s profit ratio started at 23-1 went down to 5-1, but they were still raking in the coin. Ignoring the change in the dollar’s purchasing value, his movies netted about 50% percent more than Connery; including the change would make Connery more profitable than Moore. However, as time went on they were spending more per movie and not doing as well as before, and the Box Office sales were diminishing. The lowest box office was for The Man with the Golden Gun, and the best box office was for Moonraker.
Figure 4: Timothy Dalton
Monetarily, Dalton held the line but didn’t improve on Moore’s worst. His profit ratios varied from 4.8 to 3.7, and his net sales were $114-151 million. I have to admit I thought he was closer to the Bond in the books than Moore, but he was not as charismatic as Connery.
Figure 5: Pierce Brosnan
Basically, Brosnan doubled the gross sales at the expense of higher budget costs, but still made more than any of the others. His profit ratios varied from 5.9 to 2.9, but the net sales have varied between $236 and $314 million US. Ever since he was in Remington Steele, people have been talking about him as a possible Bond. In the series he didn’t have the intensity that came out when he matured and got the Goldeneye role.
Bottom line: it’s amazing how well the franchise has done. Even with the worst of the Bonds there is always a solid profit, and with the best it was phenomenal. And for 40 years they’ve been pushing them out at an average of one every second year.
Now for the audience.
Figure 6: Audience and money.
This is probably the one I found most interesting. If you go by popularity, Connery wins by a landslide, Moore at his best is close to Brosnan, but Brosnan is more consistent. When you factor in population increase, it argues even more for the popularity of Connery, especially the earlier movies which were fairly close to the books. Connery’s popularity went down when they started diverging and adding too many gadgets (i.e after Thunderball).
And finally, since the year I was born the approximate price of a ticket has gone up 7 times (actually if you use the American consumer price index calculator it has only gone up 17%)!
Anyway, enough statistics.