The prolific English author and naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming died in 1964. Since then, his 17 novels and short stories has spawned one of the biggest film franchises of all time, which you may have heard of before regarding a British secret agent with a license to kill called ‘007’ – or better known as “Bond. James Bond”.
James Bond’s 25 films (27 if you count the non-Eon films where the studio temporarily lost the rights) has accumulated over 7 billion dollars in worldwide box office gross revenue since the most recent Spectre hit the box office in 2015.
Of the highest grossing franchises of all time, Bond ranks just behind Harry Potter and Star Wars.
But not only has Fleming’s novels translated to film, the franchise also became a video game and action toy goldmine.
So it is needless to say how much money the entirety of the 007 brand is worth.
That is why MGM (rights-holders) and Barbara Broccoli—the longtime producer of any and all things James Bond—have reportedly offered Daniel Craig a whopping 150 million dollars to come back for 2 more movies.
Daniel Craig has donned the role of James Bond—after succeeding Pierce Brosnan—since 2005 when Casino Royale hit the big screen. Since then, Craig has come back for three more in Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), and Spectre (2015).
Skyfall is the biggest Bond film the franchise has ever had, with a whopping 1.1 billion dollar worldwide gross, so it’s no surprise MGM did not have to dig very deep into their pockets to offer the obscene amount of money for Craig to reprise his role.
75 million dollars for one film would be the most any actor in the history of film would have ever received for an upfront salary. To clarify however, it would not be the most an actor has made off of a film they starred in, when factoring in their back-end percentages of the gross revenue.
When factoring in percentages:
- Keanu Reeves received a grand total of 156 million for The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolution, but with a salary of only 30 million.
- Bruce Willis cashed in 100 million for The Sixth Sense, but with a salary of only 14 million.
- Jack Nicholson received an estimated 100 million for Batman (1989) for playing the Joker. The studio begged Nicholson to take the role and he would only agree to play the iconic character if he garnered 10% of the merchandising revenue. The studio agreed.
- The biggest front-end film salary of all time was Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for 35 million dollars.
And the 150 million upfront salary they are offering Craig does not factor in any back-end percentages or other ancillary incentives.
So why is MGM offering Daniel Craig the biggest payday of all time? It is most likely because he doesn’t want to be a part of the franchise anymore.
During the press junket, prior to the release of Craig’s latest outing in Spectre, he was hounded by the media as to whether he would return to play the character. And Craig was not shy to tell everyone how he really felt about it, saying he would rather “slash his wrists” before returning.
Craig did apologize later and clarified what he meant in a sympathetic, yet ungrateful viewpoint on playing one of the most iconic characters in the history of film, saying,
“If you’re 200 yards from the end of a marathon and someone comes running up to you and says, ‘Are you going to run another marathon?’ there’s two words you use, and not on a morning show.”
Craig also said that if he were to return, he would only do it for the money.
But if he declines the monstrous offer, some leading contenders to take over the 007 are Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, and Jamie Bell. There was even a trending story about changing Bond’s gender to female and having Gillian Anderson—famously known for agent Dana Skully from the X-Files—to don the role as “Jane” Bond.
Would you rather Daniel Craig keep playing the role or do you think he should pass the torch?