Despite the wave of initial, overall very positive, reviews coming out, it looks like Spectre will be the first James Bond outing since Daniel Craig took over the reins in 2005 to not outperform the preceding entry at the box office.
This may sound like a failure or disappointment, but considering the fact that Skyfall was the most successful Bond movie of all time, the amount of rueful head-shaking at Sony/MGM/Eon headquarters should not be too extensive. Maybe a few conciliatory lines of coke and a cathartic money fight, but no real tears need be shed.
Skyfall — despite being an artisanal meringue of a movie: beautiful to look at but fundamentally hollow — was the first movie in history to crack £ 100 million at the UK box office, and the first Bond movie to vault $1 billion worldwide. Spectre will most likely not quite get to those stratospheric heights, but will nonetheless probably end up a little bit dizzy.
And though Daniel Craig seems to be dusting his hands off and walking (with a slight limp) away from the franchise, in the shadowy oak-lined backrooms behind the scenes, it’s a different picture among the studios.
In essence, MGM and Eon own Bond and his movies, and Sony distributes them. Or, to put it more accurately: has been distributing them since 2005’s Casino Royal made the series at least semi-watchable again, but that deal is now set to terminate. Sony re-secured the rights once before — after Quantum of Solace — but they are now going up for grabs yet again.
Whether Sony decide to go for the franchise again is up for debate. On the one hand, franchises are currently Hollywood’s financial lifeblood — seven of the 10 global top-grossing movies in 2014 were sequels — and Sony’s only franchise apart from Bond?
OK, they do also have Jump Street, but it would still seem to follow that Sony would want to keep a hold of the property that’s made $2 billion in the last decade. But, on the other hand, rising budgets and meaty salaries — as well as halving its investment in Spectre as compared to Skyfall — may well be a signal that Sony is going in the other direction.
Who knows? Right now only three things are certain:
1: You’ll go see Spectre
2. I’ll say to anyone who listens how much I hate Bond and won’t be going to see it.
3. I will probably see it anyway.