The James Bond movies have always been must-see blockbusters. Huge audiences always turn up to see the iconic gentleman spy’s globetrotting adventures. The Roger Moore-starring Moonraker cashed in on the post-Star Wars sci-fi trend. Die Another Day outgrossed all of Pierce Brosnan’s previous Bond films despite receiving some of the worst reviews in the history of the franchise.
According to Box Office Mojo, some Bond actors’ movies made a lot more money than others. Sean Connery’s early films were some of the biggest blockbusters of the 1960s and Daniel Craig starred in the first Bond movie to gross more than $1 billion at the global box office.
6 George Lazenby – $64,600,000
George Lazenby only played 007 in one movie before Sean Connery returned to the role. Lazenby’s one and only Bond outing, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, raked in $64,600,000 at the global box office. That’s not a huge figure by today’s box office standards, but in 1969 dollars, it was a massive blockbuster. It didn’t make as much money as Connery’s hit Bond films, but it was still one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
Lazenby isn’t rated as one of the best Bond actors, but On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is often rated as one of the finest Bond films. It’s beautifully shot, expertly paced, and culminates in a subversive ending with one of the franchise’s most harrowing tragedies.
5 Timothy Dalton – $347,400,000
It’s hardly surprising that Timothy Dalton is ranked so low since he only ever played Bond in two movies. And, on top of that, The Living Daylights and especially its blood-soaked, revenge-driven sequel License to Kill were controversial for their dark and violent tone.
Dalton’s 007 was more faithful to Ian Fleming’s source material than any other actor’s take, but his cold-bloodedness wasn’t to every viewer’s taste. Plus, License to Kill was rated 15 by the BBFC – the only Bond film to receive that rating – which hurt its chances at the UK box office.
4 Sean Connery – $621,500,000
Connery’s Bond movies are quite low in the franchise’s box office ranking, but that’s only because of inflation. Dr. No and its sequels were among the biggest movies of the 1960s. The Bond series didn’t take a while to catch on like some movie franchises; right out of the gate, 007 was a beloved staple of the silver screen. From Goldfinger onwards, they all broke through the $100 million barrier, which was the $1 billion barrier of its day.
Connery couldn’t rely on brand recognition like all his successors; he had to make 007 an icon from the get-go, and he succeeded admirably. His immortal introduction – “Bond, James Bond” – is still considered to be one of the most iconic movie quotes of all time.
3 Roger Moore – $1,151,600,000
With a whopping seven on-screen appearances as 007, Roger Moore starred in more Bond films than any of his peers. Moore’s films were decidedly sillier in tone than the Connery and Lazenby movies that came before. From a commercial perspective, Moore’s tenure in the role peaked with Moonraker’s $210 million gross. The producers’ attempt to cash in on the sci-fi trend started by Star Wars clearly paid off.
Still, some Bond fans thought that a trip to space was a step too far, and Moore’s movies progressively made less and less money until he finally relinquished the role after A View to a Kill. But even A View to a Kill was a big hit with a box office haul of more than $150 million, perhaps owing to Christopher Walken’s wonderfully eccentric turn as the villainous Max Zorin.
2 Pierce Brosnan – $1,479,008,618
None of Pierce Brosnan’s four Bond movies were record-breaking hits, but they were all impressive blockbusters. His first three outings grossed over $300 million worldwide and his fourth and final Bond film, Die Another Day, passed the $400 million mark despite being panned by critics. Halle Berry’s iconic turn as “Bond girl” Jinx Johnson was a big draw for contemporary audiences.
Only one of Brosnan’s Bond films – his first movie, GoldenEye – was universally praised by critics. All the others suffered from a mixed critical reception that might have put off some potential ticket-buyers. But all four of them were more than watchable, because no matter how well-written the script was, Brosnan was always an effortlessly charismatic 007.
1 Daniel Craig – $3,965,982,268
Daniel Craig’s Bond movies made around twice as much as Brosnan’s at the box office. The refreshingly gritty tone of Casino Royale reinvigorated the franchise and brought back fans who were turned off by the overuse of CGI in Brosnan’s films. Every movie in the Craig era was a huge blockbuster, but the negative response to Quantum of Solace and Spectre kept audiences from going back for repeat viewings.
When Skyfall found the perfect middle ground between the realism of Casino Royale and the far-fetched wackiness of traditional 007 adventures, it became the first (and, so far, only) Bond film to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Craig’s long-awaited final performance as Bond in the bittersweet finale, No Time to Die, was a blockbuster even by pre-pandemic standards.