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).

2005: a new 007 is cast; past is prologue

Seems hard to believe but it has been more than five years since Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond. While researching something else, we came across how The New York Times reported the story. There were a few things that caught our eye.

First, there was a comment from producer Michael G. Wilson, yet another refrain by Wilson of something he has been saying since the 1990s:

“We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Mr. Wilson recalled saying. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

Yes, Wilson could not let the announcement pass without complaining about how tired he was. We’ve written before about Wilson’s complaints about how exhausting it is to make James Bond movies, as close as a movie producer can be to having a guaranteed sale. So add this to the list.

Next, then-NYT reporter Sharon Waxman (now editor-in-chief of The Wrap, an entertainment-news Web site) quoted studio executives she didn’t identify concerning the new direction the 007 film series would take now that it had a new leading man:

For both Ms. (Barbara) Broccoli and Sony, executives said, the model was Jason Bourne, the character Matt Damon successfully incarnated in two gritty spy movies for Universal Pictures, “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy.”

Note, this was published in Ocotober of 2005, months before cameras would start rolling on Casino Royale. There wasn’t a public hint that Eon Productions was even thinking about emulating the Bourne films, something that reached its peak in the first 20 minutes or so of 2008’s Quantum of Solace. In that film, the Eon team even hired Dan Bradley, second unit director of the Bourne movies. After Casino Royale, producer Broccoli said Bourne was never a consideration in interviews SUCH AS THIS ONE WITH UGO.COM and that Casino was inspired by From Russia With Love, not Jason Bourne.

Finally, there was this passage in the NYT story, citing Amy Pascal, chairman of Sony’s Columbia Pictures:

Ms. Pascal said fans would have to wait to see the movie before judging Mr. Craig. As for the online criticism, she observed: “Well, he is tall. He’s the same size as Sean Connery.”

Now, for the record, HMSS gave both Daniel Craig and Casino Royale a number of favorable reviews. So what we’re about to say isn’t a jab at Craig. It should be noted what Pascal said is demonstrably incorrect.

Connery, depending on your source, is generally listed at 6-foot-2 or so. Daniel Craig, again depending on the source, at around 5-foot-10. Now 5-foot-10 isn’t a midget by any means. But it’s a good four inches shorter than 6-foot-2. If Pascal wanted to brush off criticism of the choice, there were all sorts of other things to say. Don’t say something that doesn’t stand up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny.