007 questions about Bond vs. a young wizard

001. Can the James Bond ever be the No. 1 film series again? Harry Potter passed 007 some time back as the top-grossing film series worldwide. The gap currently is about $7.3 billion for the young wizard compared with $5.1 billion for the gentleman agent.

Ah, a 007 enthusiast may reply, Harry’s film career has ended with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. Agent 007 will make up the difference in no time.

002. Just what is “no time”? We’re talking years, at the very least the better part of a decade.

003. How can that be? Get out your calculator: There’s a $2.2 billion gap between 007 and Harry. The Bond series would have to average $500 million in box office receipts for four consecutive movies, starting with Bonbd 23, to catch the Potter series — and that’s if everybody stopped buying tickets to Deathly Hallows Part II this minute, all over the world.

004. But that’s possible, isn’t it? Certainly, but a $500 million gross isn’t common for a 007 movie. The Bond series never had a $500 million worldwide gross until 2006’s Casino Royale, still the series’ top-grossing entry at $596.4 million. Quantum of Solace grossed almost as much, $576.4 million.

005. Sounds doable, isn’t it? Sure, especially when you factor in rising ticket prices. Still, even if it happens, the *earliest* it could occur is 2018, assuming the Bond series can come out with an entry every other year beginning with Bond 23 in 2012.

006. What might prevent that? Remember, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that owns a half-interest in the 007 franchise, was in bankruptcy less than a year ago. Even before MGM’s bankruptcy, Bond producer Michael G. Wilson was again talking about how exhausted he was following Quantum and that there’d be at least a three-year break between films. It remains to be seen if Wilson and Eon Productions is up to producing a 007 movie every other year.

007. So what are you trying to say? Enjoy Bond 23, both when it starts filming later this year and in 2012 when it comes out. Don’t get hung up on being No. 2 worldwide (or No. 3 in the U.S. behind Potter and the Star Wars series). Also, don’t take 007 for granted. Bond films have been in hiatus more years than not since 1989 (1989-95, 2002-2006, 2008-present).

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