Miriam Datskovsky and Duff McDonald
Writer Ian Fleming never wanted James Bond to be an especially likable character. In the first 007 novel, Casino Royale, he describes Bond as “ironical, brutal, and cold” and once said that he’d given him the “dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find.” Yet the character has proven to be extremely lucrative for two families—the Flemings and their Hollywood partners, the Broccolis. With the latest Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, out this month, Condé Nast Portfolio takes aim at determining how much 007 has generated over the years.
In 1961, Fleming sold the film rights to all published and future novels to Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, co-producers of the first Bond film, Dr. No. Today, Broccoli’s daughter and stepson oversee EON Productions, which makes the Bond films in tandem with MGM and Sony. The 21 films released so far have generated $11.6 billion in sales at the box office. (The most successful was 1965’s Thunderball, earning $986 million, adjusted for inflation; the least successful was 1989’s License to Kill, which brought in $277 million.) DVD and VHS sales have probably added an extra $400 million.
Subtotal: $12 billion
Developers have released more than two dozen Bond games, including several from Electronic Arts—like 2001’s Agent Under Fire—that aren’t based on specific movies or books. According to NPD Group, a market research firm, Bond games have generated about $662 million in U.S. revenue since 1995. One title alone—1997’s Goldeneye 007, for the Nintendo 64—racked up $251 million. Throw in an additional $150 million or so for the prior decade.
Subtotal: $812 million
In addition to the 14 Bond books Fleming wrote between 1953 and 1966, Ian Fleming Publications (owned by his descendants) has commissioned 30 Bond sequels, a Young Bond series for teens, and The Moneypenny Diaries, a trilogy that follows the life of the personal secretary of Bond’s boss, M. The books have been translated into 45 languages and sold more than 100 million copies in 25 countries. The recently released Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks, became the fastest-selling hardcover fiction title in Penguin’s history.
Subtotal: $1 billion
The Bottom Line
The master spy is one of the most lucrative fictional characters in history, leading a pack that includes Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and Batman.
Total: $13.8 billion
Most Popular Theme Songs
Goldfinger, Anthony Newley1
Played 196,035 times on radio
Die Another Day, Madonna
Played 85,073 times on radio
Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings
Played 72,498 times on radio
A View to a Kill, Duran Duran
Played 22,774 times on radio
SOURCE: Nielsen BDS.
NOTE: 1 Released on a 30th anniversary compilation album, The Best of Bond ... James Bond; Shirley Bassey recorded the original