Consider this post fun with numbers on a holiday: Who was the most popular James Bond in the United States when it comes to getting people to actually pay for a movie ticket?
If you guessed Sean Connery, the original film 007, you’re right and it’s not much of a surprise. But available statistics show how dominant the Scotsman was in the U.S. when it came to Bond movies.
On Box Office Mojo, you can find a list of Bond films by estimated number of tickets sold in the U.S. It has 25 films, the 24 made by Eon Productions plus 1983’s Never Say Never Again.
By that measure, Connery 007 films comprise five of the top 10 Bond movies.
In order: Thunderball (1), Goldfinger (2), You Only Live Twice (4), From Russia With Love (8) and Diamonds Are Forever (9).
In that top 10, two actors are tied at two apiece. Daniel Craig has Skyfall (3) and Casino Royale (10). Pierce Brosnan has Die Another Day (6) and Tomorrow Never Dies (7).
Rounding out the top 10 is Roger Moore with Moonraker (5).
Looking at the list, there’s a surprise or two.
Live And Let Die in 1973 and The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 were big hits globally at the time of their release.
Live And Let Die, Moore’s debut and featuring a Paul McCartney title song, was the first Bond movie to exceed Thunderball at the worldwide box office. Spy re-energized the franchise after the split of producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
But on the U.S. list of ticket purchases, Spy shows up at No. 16. It’s edged out by Octopussy at No. 15. Meanwhile, Live And Let Die is No. 17.
Curious about how George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton did? Well, Lazenby’s sole 007 effort, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is No. 21. Dalton’s two Bond films come in at No. 23 (The Living Daylights) and No. 25 (Licence to Kill).
Finally, Connery isn’t completely invincible on this list. Dr. No, the first Bond film (which came to the U.S. in 1963) is No. 19. Never Say Never Again, Connery’s effort to do a Bond without Albert R. Broccoli, is No. 20.
If you’re a James Bond fan in general, or of a specific 007 actor, none of this should really matter.
Even when keeping it to tickets purchased, comparisons across decades are a dicey thing. For example, movie going habits have changed. In the 1960s, people went more often to the movies than they do now.