What Was The Most Popular Bond Movie?

The Answer Also Ends The Argument Of Who Is The Greatest Bond Of Them All

Would You Have Guessed This?
The newest James Bond movie, Skyfall, is opening this weekend and it is sure to become the highest grossing Bond movie of all time. I don’t think many of us are fooled by the “highest grossing of all time” spin that studios use to make us feel like we are seeing something that is more popular than ever. By now we all know that that is simply comparing apples to oranges or some other cliche phrase. So while Quantum of Solace is the highest grossing Bond film ever, nobody believes it is the most popular Bond film ever, right? So what is/was the most popular Bond film of all time? Which movie put the most butts in the seats? The answer to that question, coupled with the looking at the top 10 most popular Bond films ever, also provides a pretty definitive answer to who was/is the most beloved Bond of them all. Take a look at the list below and you will see what I mean (the list comes from BoxOfficeMojo.com):


Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation

Rank Title (click to view) Studio Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross Release
1 Thunderball UA $599,896,000 $63,595,658 12/21/65
2 Goldfinger UA $531,726,000 $51,081,062 12/22/64
3 You Only Live Twice UA $287,950,000 $43,084,787 6/13/67
4 Moonraker MGM $224,649,800 $70,308,099 6/29/79
5 Die Another Day MGM $221,224,000 $160,942,139 11/22/02
6 Tomorrow Never Dies MGM $215,827,700 $125,304,276 12/19/97
7 From Russia, with Love UA $213,838,800 $24,796,765 4/8/64
8 Diamonds Are Forever UA $212,989,600 $43,819,547 12/17/71
9 Casino Royale Sony $203,938,000 $167,445,960 11/17/06
10 The World Is Not Enough MGM $199,327,500 $126,943,684 11/19/99
11 GoldenEye MGM $195,719,600 $106,429,941 11/17/95
12 Quantum of Solace Sony $188,066,100 $168,368,427 11/14/08
13 Octopussy MGM $172,859,300 $67,893,619 6/10/83
14 The Spy Who Loved Me UA $168,451,200 $46,838,673 7/13/77
15 Live and Let Die UA $160,299,600 $35,377,836 6/27/73
16 For Your Eyes Only MGM $158,129,000 $54,812,802 6/26/81
17 Dr. No UA $151,597,200 $16,067,035 5/8/63
18 Never Say Never Again WB $141,133,800 $55,432,841 10/7/83
19 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service UA $128,627,800 $22,774,493 12/18/69
20 A View to a Kill MGM $113,698,700 $50,327,960 5/24/85
21 The Living Daylights UA $104,990,000 $51,185,897 7/31/87
22 The Man with the Golden Gun UA $89,944,100 $20,972,000 12/18/74
23 License to Kill UA $70,032,600 $34,667,015 7/14/89
TOTAL: $4,754,916,200 $1,608,470,516
AVERAGE: $206,735,500 $69,933,501

The top two most popular Bond films, by a huge proportion, are two of Sean Connery’s best. The third place film, You Only Live Twice, also Connery. In fact five of the top eight are Connery movies, and he only made six Bond films (not including Never Say Never Again, because we should never include Never Say Never Again). Connery’s closest thing to am underperforming Bond movie is Dr. No, the original Bond movie that launched the franchise.

Looking at the numbers it also is close to inarguable that Pierce Brosnan was the second most popular bond. Three of his four Bond movies finished in the top 10 with his fourth film finishing eleventh. Roger Moore’s time as Bond was all over the map from the high of Moonraker (shockingly #4) to the low of The Man With The Golden Gun (equally shocking at #22, the second least popular Bond movie of all). Daniel Craig has a chance to challenge Brosnan, but Skyfall will have to do a lot better than Quantum of Solace if he is going to fight his way into that discussion. And maybe the least surprising thing is that Timothy Dalton’s time as Bond was an unmitigated disaster.

Conclusion

I am not that shocked to see Connery’s movies dominating the top of the list or to see that Brosnan’s time as Bond was much more popular than most seem to acknowledge (it is as if tipping your hat to Pierce is somehow a slap in the face to the new grittier Bond of Daniel Craig). I will say that as a whole the cream rose to the top (with some notable exceptions) and the junk sunk to the bottom (with some notable exceptions). I guess I will just have to rank all the Bond films myself to see who close popularity and quality mirror each other.

But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.