Over the past weekend, Skyfall returned to the top of the box office and became the biggest hit in Sony Pictures’ history in the process. After five weekends, the Sam Mendes-directed action film had earned a franchise-high $261.8 million domestically. (For reference, the previous high-point was 2008′s Quantum of Solace, which grossed $168.4 million.)
It’s not often that a franchise this deep into its existence — 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the British spy’s first appearance on the silver screen — peaks at the box office. And in all reality, it’s only half accurate to call Skyfall the “peak.” Its record-setting gross does not account for inflation. (The series’ all-time high point was actually 1965′s Thunderball, which, according to BoxOfficeMojo, grossed a staggering $593.9 million when adjusted for inflation.)
Still, even accounting for inflation, Skyfall is already the fourth-highest-grossing Bond film ever, and its excellent performance both domestically and around the world reveals that the franchise is experiencing a major upswing. With a running worldwide total of $918 million — by far the highest total ever for a Bond film (Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale both topped out at $594 million) — and an opening in China still slated for early 2013, prognosticators expect Skyfall to become the first-ever billion-dollar Bond film. James Bond may be getting older, but Skyfall makes it clear that he’s still a major force to be reckoned with at the box office.
Most franchises don’t enjoy such longevity. It’s much more common for film series to start with gargantuan grosses and then face diminishing returns with every subsequent release. And yet, the James Bond series suddenly seems to be hitting its stride right now. Why is that? Because since its inception in the 1960s, the Bond franchise has been primed for success in today’s modern market. It seems to have been almost preternaturally constructed to succeed in 2012. The box office just had to catch up with Bond’s ahead-of-the-curve sensibilities. Here’s what I mean: READ FULL STORY