SPECTRE may be one of most expensive movies ever made


SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film made by Eon Productions, may be one of the most expensive movies ever made, not adjusted for inflation, based on one movie data base.

The CNN/MONEY WEBSITE reported Dec. 10 that hacked Sony Pictures documents indicate SPECTRE is on pace to cost more than $300 million. (Note: the CNN/Money story does contain plot spoilers.)

The story quoted an e-mail by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive as saying the budget “sits in the mid $300Ms,” while efforts were being made to get it back down to $250 million. Sony Pictures will release SPECTRE next year while Eon and MGM own the franchise.

THE NUMBERS WEBSITE, which compiles various movie financial data, includes a list of the 20 most expensive films it has information on. At $300 million, SPECTRE would tie Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End for No. 2 at that list. Only Avatar, at $425 million, is higher.

Other films of note that are high on the list: The Dark Knight Rises, John Carter and 2013’s The Lone Ranger, all at $275 million, and three Hobbit movies at $250 million each.

Quantum of Solace, the 2008 Bond film, is No. 14 on the list at $230 million.

The website has this caveat: “Budget numbers for movies can be both difficult to find and unreliable. Studios often try to keep the information secret and will use accounting tricks to inflate or reduce announced budgets.”

Also, as mentioned before, the list doesn’t adjust for inflation.

007 movie ticket sales adjusted for inflation

Thunderball, the 007 box office champion adjusted for inflation

AFP-Relaxnews, a leisure news wire, this week recalculated worldwide ticket sales for the James Bond movie series by adjusting the figures for inflation. Here’s how the news service summarized its results:

Sean Connery, every movie buff’s favorite James Bond, is also the saga’s number one cash cow, based on international box office numbers.

Among the six actors who officially played Agent 007 on the silver screen, Sean Connery proved the most surefire box-office draw: each of his six James Bond films, from Dr. No (1962) to Diamonds Are Forever (1971), grossed $729 million on average (adjusting for inflation).

You can view the full list and story by CLICKING HERE.

Under the inflation-adjusted numbers compiled by AFP-Relaxnews, 1965’s Thunderball is the 007 box office champ at $1.04 billion, with 1964’s Goldfinger close behind at just under $936 million. To put this in perspective, Thunderball’s inflation-adjusted figure wouldn’t be as much as the 2012 film Marvel’s The Avengers at $1.45 billion but it’d be in that enviable neighborhood.

The highest non-Sean Connery film on the inflation-adjusted list? Roger Moore’s 007 debut, 1973’s Live And Let Die, at $847 million. (Live And Let Die was the first 007 film to top Thunderball in real life ticket sales.)

The lowest on the inflation-adjusted list is 1989’s Licence to Kill starring Timothy Dalton at just under $293 million. A View to a Kill, Moore’s 1985 finale as Bond, is next to last at just under $330 million. (Is the lesson here not to put “Kill” in the title?)

In real life, Daniel Craig’s 007 debut, 2006’s Casino Royale, is No. 1 at $596 million. That translates to $687.5 million adjusted for inflation and in the upper part of that list, ahead of the likes of Moonraker ($673 million), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ($665.7 million) and From Russia With Love ($599 million) while trailing The Spy Who Loved Me ($711 million) and You Only Live Twice ($778 million).

Connery’s six movies in the Eon series account for 33 percent of the inflation-adjusted series total while Roger Moore’s seven entries generated 30 percent, according to AFP-Relaxnews.

To see the non-adjusted box office list, CLICK HERE. AFP-Relaxnews says it used data from the U.S. Department of Labor in making its calculations to adjust for inflation.

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).

Could 007 be forced to economize in Bond 23?

Now that Bond 23 has a release date of November 2012, the entertainment media is seeking details. The Hollywood Reporter’s Web site has a story saying Paramount be the leading contender to cut a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to release the film. But down deep in the story is something else that caught our eye:

The next Bond film — tentatively called Bond 23, to be directed by Sam Mendes and starring (Daniel) Craig — will likely cost less than $150 million. It is not clear whether MGM will finance all or part of the film, though one source with ties to Paramount believes MGM would like to finance the film and cover marketing costs. Obviously that could be one of many points of negotiation.

This is interesting because the most recent Bond entry, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, cost a reported $230 million, according to the Numbers.com Web site. A $150 million budget, while ample, would represent a substantial reduction.

That wouldn’t be all bad. Many fans, including a number of HMSS reviewers felt Quantum of Solace didn’t match the quality of 2006’s Casino Royale, which skimped by (relatively speaking) on a $102 million budget (Numbers.com’s estimate). If the $230 million figure for Quantum is correct, it’s hard to see where the money went. It wasn’t for production values, editing or the script.

Now, we approach the Hollywood Reporter report with some caution concerning Bond 23’s budget. The trade publication doesn’t specify where it came up with the “less than $150 million” figure, or if it’s based on actual reporting of it’s an educated guess. It’s not even attributed to “sources.” Still, given that MGM just got out of bankruptcy, it makes sense that Bond 23 would be a more a more thrifty production than Quantum of Solace. And you can still make a good movie for $150 million and spending $230 million isn’t a guarantee of success.

Thunderball’s 45th anniversary part V: Peter Hunt fights with the film

Peter Hunt, lead film editor on the first five 007 movies, said in the documentary Inside From Russia With Love that the film “wasn’t beautifully storyboarded” and that sometimes “you have to fight with the film” to make the story work. If From Russia With Love was a fight between editor and film, Thunderball must have been all-out war.

From urinating dogs to wounds shifting from one leg to the other to disappearing pants, Thunderball didn’t enjoy tight continuity.

The fourth 007 film was the most sprawling to date. It had a $9 million budget, according to the Numbers.com Web site, a huge amount for 1965 and nine times as expensive as the series’ first entry, Dr. No. There was extensive location shooting in the Bahamas and underwater sequences done on an enormous scale — and all being done on tight deadlines to ensure a release for Christmas 1965.

It was up to Peter Hunt to make it work. Hunt had a new spiffy title, supervising editor, and he had help from editor Ernest Hosler and assembly editor Ben Rayner. But Hunt ultimately had to battle with the film shot by director Terence Young. Hunt, at an appearance in at a 1994 007 fan convention in Los Angeles, told attendees the editor knows the flaws of a film better than anyone. The way Hunt described it, the editor’s job was to speed the audience through those flaws so they wouldn’t notice (at least on the first viewing).

Hunt & Co. had a number of flaws to deal with. Here’s a YouTube video that looks at some of just one major sequence, where we meet the aforementioned dog (Hunt in one telling, had actually spotted and removed it but it got reinserted because producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman thought it was funny), locals wearing 007 hats (and here we thought he was a secret agent) and a bullet wound that changes location on Bond’s body:

Meanwhile, at the Thunderball Obessional Web site, there’s a page that includes even more of the continuity issues with Thunderball, including how CIA agent Felix Leiter’s pants disappear and reappear in the same sequence.

Despite trimming by Hunt and his editors (also detailed on the Thunderball Obsessional page with the continuity errors), Thunderball also was the longest of the first four 007 film adventures at 2 hours and 10 minutes. In the end, despite the challenges, Hunt did speed the audience through the mammoth adventure and once again showed he was a valuable 007 contributor to the series’ early years.

Thunderball’s 45th anniversary part I: Bondmania peaks

December is the 45th anniversary of the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball. In some ways, it’s a bittersweet anniversary for 007 fans. Bondmania hit its peak with Thunderball for the general public and it would never make it back to those levels.

Obviously the series has remained popular, generating 18 installments over the next 43 years. But it wouldn’t be the entertainment phenomenon it was in 1964 and 1965.

Thunderball grossed about $63.6 million in the U.S. Adjusted for inflaton, assuming an averge ticket price of $7.95, that translates to almost $595 million in 2010 dollars, according to information compiled by Box Office Mojo Website. On the adjusted gross basis, Thunderball is No. 27 all time and outranks Spider-Man, some (but not all) of the Star Wars series, Forrest Gump and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King among others.

Again, the Box Office Mojo list is U.S.only. Thunderball had a worldwide gross of $141.2 million, according to a list of unadjusted grosses compiled by Numbers.com Assuming a similar adjustment for 2010 (as in the Box Office Mojo U.S. list), you’re looking at an adjusted gross of more than $1 billion for Thunderball.

However, on the adjusted U.S. list, the only other 007 film is 1964’s Goldfinger at No. 41 ($51 million actual U.S. gross, $527 million adjusted for 2010 dollars). In the bottom 10 of the adjusted list, you’ll see the likes of Seargeant York, House of Wax and Toy Story 2. You won’t find Quantum of Solace, the most recent 007 film that had the highest actual U.S. gross in the Bond series of $169.4 million.

Bond, of course, is popular outside of the U.S. Still, if you assume Thunderball has an adjusted gross of $1 billion or better worldwide, then the top unadjusted worldwide grossing Bond film — 2006’s Casino Royale at $596.4 million — isn’t nearly as popuar as the 1965 film was.

Earlier this year, on message boards of Bond fan Web sites, fans argued that adjusted grosses were the true measure of Bond’s popularity. This came in response to stories LIKE THIS ONE that the Harry Potter series had passed 007 in total unadjusted grosses.

But if adjusted is the real standard, then Bond’s *biggest* days are behind him. That doesn’t mean that 007 isn’t popular. And yes, comparing financial performance of movies from different eras is actually more complicated because there are more revenue sources now than in previous decades. Still, it doesn’t change the fact the Thunderball anniversary is also the anniversary of an end of an era, an era that seems unlikely to return.