Bond 26, etc.: The real question going forward

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

A Forbes.com article out today says that James Bond still is popular and relevant. That really isn’t the correct question.

The real question is whether the series can continue to grind out new entries at $300 million a pop.

There is certainly a market for James Bond films. Even if the audience is aging, fans turn out for Bond. But at what price?

In 2012, there was a market for a movie featuring John Carter (another character from the creator of Tarzan). But not one that cost $200 million or more to make. Walt Disney Co. had to report a big charge against earnings.

In 2013, there was a market for a Lone Ranger movie (even a Tonto-centric one). But not one that cost $240 million to make. With the Lone Ranger, the special effects budget should have mostly been for squibs to simulate gun shots. But the makers of the movie went way beyond that.

Back in the day, Cleopatra (1963) was a very popular film. Financially, not so much. As big as the audience was, 20th Century Fox couldn’t earn a profit on its theatrical release.

I’ve seen some fans say they have no personal stake in how No Time to Die does at the box office. So it doesn’t matter to them.

Maybe so. With No Time to Die, it’s doing better in the U.K. and Europe than in the U.S. The final numbers remain to be seen. But spending $300 million (or so) makes it harder to earn a profit.

The question facing Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the studio’s future owner, Amazon (assuming Amazon’s planned acquisition of MGM gets regulatory approval) is whether it’s time rethink and re-evaluate Bond film budgets.

Presumably, Bond 26’s leading man won’t be paid $25 million (Daniel Craig’s reported salary for No Time to Die). Perhaps Eon’s Barbara Broccoli will remember how her father did business and negotiate harder than she did with Craig. Presumably Bond 26 won’t have pandemic-related delays that added to the tab.

Perhaps. Presumably. We’ll see.

4 Responses

  1. My impression is that the studios aren’t interested in singles and doubles, they’re swinging for the fences with their tentpoles. So downsizing probably isn’t an option, especially when they’re facing competition from other franchises. I definitely see them rebooting with a new actor, and perhaps a storyline that doesn’t involve a $300 million execution.

    By the way, I just wrote Michael G. Wilson a letter, recommending strongly that they put Craig up for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. I thought he was just terrific

  2. I like the idea of a Bond in the 25-30 range set in the 50’s. Don’t know if they’ll do that, but a young, relatively unknown actor who would take nine percent off the bottom line would be helpful. I know TMFU movie didn’t do well financially, but it was well executed for a fraction of SPECTRE’s cost that year. With a great marketing campaign they could do major business.

  3. Babs has to come to her senses and license the property to a rich streamer like Netflix to do a series of mid budget period adaptations of the novels, one at a time. I know that she hates the idea, but it is the only rational way forwards.

  4. The reality is $ 300 M budgets for a film are just unsustainable going forward. Bigger is not always best as numerous films & their sequels have shown. This probably isn’t fair but if you look at the first couple of Bourne thrillers they were tightly controlled thrillers that worked well ( the last one was an overblown mess ). I think they have hemmed themselves in thinking it has to be bigger better etc than the last one.

    They need to scale back even if it is to say $ 150 M and use that to fuel their creativity. Whilst it is great to see different parts of the world instead of being a travelogue why not film in one location (BTW they have never filmed anything in Australia or New Zealand where with currency rates being where they are could save them at least 20 % ). Couple of last thoughts perhaps b=get Guy Ritchie to direct the next one … and get a screenwriter to write a solid script…

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