Bond, Penguins and a Tale of Numbers

According to a report last week in Variety, the latest James Bond film Casino Royale (see our review here) has grossed over $448 million worldwide at the box office, making it the top grossing Bond film of all time.

While this is certainly a validation for the new approach that the producers of the franchise have adopted following the casting of Daniel Craig in the role of the British super spy, almost predictably this news was neglected to be reported by the folks over at the anit-Craig-as-Bond site cleverly named made a splash back in late 2005 following the announcement of Craig as the inheritor of the role of James Bond from actor Pierce Brosnan. Some in the Bond fan community where fairly vocal in their feelings that Craig might not have been the best choice for the role and the website soon became a rallying point for them to air their grievances.

And while they are certainly welcome to voice their opinion, the site’s spin on the film’s box-office performance in the early weeks of Casino Royale’s release have revealed them to be nothing more than petty, petulant children. While they may have a point – relevant or not I leave to you to decide – that Craig doesn’t much resemble Cary Grant, whom was favored for the role by Bond’s literary creator Ian Flemming, their gleeful reporting of the film’s alleged failure at the box office transcends opinion and ultimately arrives in the realm of outright misrepresentation of facts.

“The happy penguins dance all over Craig!!!” proclaim a site’s headline in large blue type, complete with multiple exclamation points in what looks like a text book example of Schadenfreude. And on the surface, it appears to be true- the animated penguin film Happy Feet, released the same weekend as Casino Royale, pulled approximately $700,000.00 more at the box office than the Bond film during their first weekend in the theaters, a rather narrow margin considering that both films had grossed over $40 million. However, a closer examination of the box office information may reveal a different story than what would like you to believe.

(For the sake of the rest of this discussion, let’s put aside the abject ridiculousness of comparing the box-office performance an animated children’s movie to that of a live action thriller with a much different target audience.)

When looking at box office performance, two numbers that are arguably more important than just flat out gross receipts are the number of films that a film is screening on and that film’s per screen gross average. Casino Royale opened on 3,434 screens around the country, 370 screens less than the 3,804 screens that Happy Feet debuted on. And on each of those 3,434 screens, Casino Royale earned an average of $972.00 more than Happy Feet did. (Box 0ffice figures courtesy of A quick bit of math soon reveals that with all things, or in this case the number of screens each film was seen on, being equal, Casino Royale would have outperformed Happy Feet by almost $3.7 million, a much wider margin than the $700,000 was championing. And that’s not even factoring in Casino Royale’s nearly half an hour longer run time, which cuts down the number of times the film can be screened (and tickets sold) per day versus the number of screenings of Happy Feet per day. Levelling that number would Casino Royale’s lead even wider in the neighborhood of another $10 million.

We should all be so cursed with such a failure.

But then again, facts never stood in the way of a good argument and for to try and present Casino Royale as some sort of box office catastrophe either on its own merits or in comparison to a completely different type of film is at least intellectually disingenuous and at the most the antics of the people behind the site only serve to make them look like spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum.

Sour grapes only produce bitter wine.

One post script- Oddly enough, Bond will be fighting penguins at the box office in 2008 as the next, currently untitled, installment is currently scheduled to open against the animated Madagascar 2 on November 7 of that year. Who will be the tuxedo-clad winner of that round? Who can say, but I know of one spot I’m not going to go to for any analysis of the film’s box office performance.

Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 6949 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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January 5, 2007 4:33 pm

I still say it’s frightening that the most vocal anti-Craig sect (which I have to presume is predominantly male) hates him because they don’t think he’s pretty enough. And not only because – by their rationale – Jessica Alba is the perfect Susan Storm!