James Bond is a fictional character created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953. Bond is a British secret agent working for MI6 who also answers by his codename, 007. He has been portrayed on film by actors Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, in twenty-six productions. Only two films were not made by Eon Productions. Eon now holds the full adaptation rights to all of Fleming's Bond novels.
In 1961 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman joined forces to purchase the filming rights to Fleming's novels. They founded the production company Eon Productions and, with financial backing by United Artists, began working on Dr. No, which was directed by Terence Young and featured Connery as Bond. Following Dr. No's release in 1962, Broccoli and Saltzman created the holding company Danjaq to ensure future productions in the James Bond film series. The series currently encompasses twenty-four films, with the most recent, Spectre, released in October 2015. With a combined gross of nearly $7 billion to date, the films produced by Eon constitute the Fourth -highest-grossing film series, behind Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Accounting for the effects of inflation the Bond films have amassed over $14 billion at current prices. The films have won five Academy Awards: for Sound Effects (now Sound Editing) in Goldfinger (at the 37th Awards), to John Stears for Visual Effects in Thunderball (at the 38th Awards), to Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers for Sound Editing, and to Adele and Paul Epworth for Original Song in Skyfall (at the 85th Awards), and to Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes for Original Song in Spectre (at the 88th Awards). Additionally, several of the songs produced for the films have been nominated for Academy Awards for Original Song, including Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die", Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" and Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only". In 1982, Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.
When Broccoli and Saltzman bought the rights to existing and future Fleming titles, it did not include Casino Royale, which had already been sold to producer Gregory Ratoff, with the story having been adapted for television in 1954. After Ratoff's death, the rights were passed on to Charles K. Feldman, who subsequently produced the satirical Bond spoof Casino Royale in 1967. A legal case ensured that the film rights to the novel Thunderball were held by Kevin McClory as he, Fleming and scriptwriter Jack Whittingham had written a film script upon which the novel was based. Although Eon Productions and McClory joined forces to produce Thunderball, McClory still retained the rights to the story and adapted Thunderball into 1983's Never Say Never Again. The current distribution rights to both of those films are held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio which distributes Eon's regular series.
In 1961, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman joined forces to adapt Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. They founded the production company Eon Productions and signed a deal with United Artists for 100 per cent financial backing and distribution of seven films, with financing of $1 million for the first feature, Dr. No. Released in 1962, it starred Sean Connery, who after being cast as Bond, signed to do six films. Saltzman and Broccoli followed Dr. No with From Russia with Love in 1963 and Goldfinger the following year. Afterwards, Eon Productions joined forces with Kevin McClory to produce Thunderball (1965), as McClory gained the legal rights to that novel following a lawsuit. Connery was renegotiating his contract by then, and got released from it during the production of his fifth film, 1967's You Only Live Twice. George Lazenby became the second actor to play agent 007 in an Eon Productions film in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which was released in 1969 and turned out to be Lazenby's only appearance in the series, as his agent convinced him to not follow through with a seven picture deal.
Saltzman and Broccoli tested other actors for James Bond, but studio United Artists wanted Sean Connery back, paying a then-record $1.25 million salary for him to return in Diamonds Are Forever, released in 1971. Connery refused to play the role further, and his eventual replacement was Roger Moore, who made his debut as 007 in 1973 with Live and Let Die. Follow-up The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) was the last film co-produced by Harry Saltzman, who sold his 50% stake in Eon Productions' parent company, Danjaq, to United Artists to alleviate his financial problems, and the resulting legalities over the Bond property delayed production of the next Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Having filled his original deal, Moore started to negotiate contracts on a film-by-film basis, signing to do a fourth Bond film, 1979's Moonraker.
For Your Eyes Only retained Roger Moore, but marked a change in the production crew: John Glen was promoted from his duties as a film editor to director, a position he would occupy for the next four films. Follow-up Octopussy was the first distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who purchased United Artists in 1981, and A View to a Kill marked Moore's departure from the series. Timothy Dalton took over the role, starring in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill.
Pre-production work for the third James Bond film starring Timothy Dalton, fulfilling his three-film contract, began in May 1990. The project eventually entered development hell caused by legal problems between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, parent company of the series' distributor United Artists, and Danjaq, owners of the Bond film rights. Dalton's contract had expired when the lawsuits were settled in 1992. Pierce Brosnan was brought in to become the new Bond, and his 1995 debut, GoldenEye, also marked the first film in the series not produced by Albert R. Broccoli: his deteriorating health (Broccoli died seven months after the release of GoldenEye) led daughter Barbara Broccoli and stepson Michael G. Wilson to take over the series. Brosnan had two more films that decade, Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 and The World Is Not Enough in 1999.
Pierce Brosnan had signed a deal for four films when he was cast in the role of James Bond. This was fulfilled with the production of Die Another Day in 2002. Afterwards Eon decided to reboot the series with a younger actor. Daniel Craig was eventually cast as Bond in Casino Royale (an adaptation of the first James Bond novel), released in 2006. It was followed by Quantum of Solace in 2008.
Sam Mendes was attached to work on the twenty-third James Bond film in 2008, but production was halted until 2011 as MGM faced financial troubles. Skyfall was released on the fiftieth anniversary of the series in 2012, and became the highest-grossing film in the franchise. Mendes was brought back to do follow-up Spectre, released in 2015.
Two James Bond films were produced without the involvement of Eon Productions, done by producers who held adaptation rights to individual Ian Fleming novels. Charles K. Feldman, who had acquired the film rights to Casino Royale in 1960, failed to come to terms with Eon for a joint production. Believing that he could not compete with the Eon series, Feldman resolved to produce the film as a satire. Released in 1967 by Columbia Pictures, Casino Royale starred David Niven as a James Bond who comes out of retirement to investigate the deaths of international spies. With the aid of Bond impersonators he battles the mysterious Dr. Noah and SMERSH. Years later, Kevin McClory used his rights to Thunderball and joined forces with producer Jack Schwartzman and studio Warner Bros. to adapt the novel into 1983's Never Say Never Again. Sean Connery played the role of James Bond for the seventh time, marking his return to the character 12 years after Diamonds Are Forever. The current distribution rights to both of those films are held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Box office and budget
The Eon-produced films have a combined gross of nearly $7 billion, and constitute the fourth-highest-grossing film series, behind Star Wars, Harry Potter films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Reception and accolades
The Bond films have been nominated for a number of awards throughout their fifty-year history, with most films winning an award; these include successes at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards. In addition, in 1982 Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.