Special Report

These Are The James Bond Movies That Did Best At The Box Office

“Bond, James Bond.” One of the most memorable lines in cinematic history also ignited one of the most profitable movie franchises in filmdom. The 26 Bond films thus far released (a 27th, “No Time to Die,” will be released in early October) have amassed $7 billion in worldwide box office revenues, placing Bond number three among top-grossing movie franchises, behind the Marvel series and Star Wars. Several are among the biggest worldwide box office hits of the last 20 years.

The suave, world-weary Bond was the creation of author Ian Fleming, who himself was a British Naval Intelligence officer during World War II, so he knew spycraft. Moviegoers seemingly can’t get enough of the daring exploits of 007, even though the movies follow the same basic formula:  A madman or malevolent organization bent on destroying the world or doing some other evil deed is eventually defeated by Bond as he chases the villain through exotic locales and romances beautiful women. Bond himself summed it up when he said in “Dr. No”: “World domination. The same old dream.”

As with any long-standing movie series — the first Bond film “Dr. No” will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year — there are some clunkers among the gems. The best evoke the tensions of the Cold War (“From Russia With Love” “The Living Daylights”), while others had plots that were just plain silly, like “Moonraker.” (Here is a list of every James Bond movie ranked worst to best.)

Yet that unevenness hasn’t stopped audiences from flocking to the theater whenever a Bond film premieres. Even poorly reviewed examples like “A View to a Kill” rang up cash registers at the theatre. Nor have audiences been turned off by the changing face of Bond. Seven actors have played Bond, led by the most popular, Sean Connery. And there will soon be an eighth: Daniel Craig has indicated he will bow out after “No Time To Die” debuts in the fall.  

Click here to learn how every James Bond movie did at the box office

To determine the James Bond movies that did best at the box office, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on domestic box office for all 26, as of May 2021, from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Box office figures were adjusted for inflation using historical ticket prices from the National Association of Theatre Owners and the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ratings came from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Audience score is from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Information from both was gathered from April to May 2021.

The enduring appeal of 007 no doubt figured in Amazon’s recent decision to pay $8.45 billion for MGM — the studio that releases the Bond movies. The sheer size of the deal and Amazon’s bet on the profitability of the franchise ensures there will probably always be a next Bond, James Bond.

26. License to Kill (1989)
> Domestic box office: $79.6 million
> IMDb rating: 6.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 61%
> Starring: Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto

After Sean Connery and Roger Moore retired from the Bond series, Welsh-born actor Timothy Dalton took over as 007. In his second installment as Bond, Dalton resigns from MI6 to battle a drug lord (played by Robert Davi) who injured his friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, and killed Leiter’s wife. At the end of the movie, Bond is offered his old job back, but Dalton departed the series.

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25. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
> Domestic box office: $101.8 million
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 55%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams

Number nine in the James Bond series stars Christopher Lee as assassin Francisco Scaramanga, who has set his sights on Bond. The title refers to Scaramanga’s penchant for using a golden gun to shoot his targets. The plot also involves the villain’s plan to sell powerful solar cell technology that can weaponize the sun’s heat.

24. The Living Daylights (1987)
> Domestic box office: $119.9 million
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 66%
> Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker

Timothy Dalton’s first go-around as James Bond harkens back to the series’ original focus on the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. Bond’s mission is to help a KGB general defect and stop the Soviet’s “Death to Spies” program. But it doesn’t go as planned (naturally), as everyone is double-dealing or has a shady arms deal on the side. Instead, Bond winds his way through Vienna and eventually Afghanistan.

23. A View to a Kill (1985)
> Domestic box office: $129.9 million
> IMDb rating: 6.4
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 40%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones

Roger Moore bid farewell to Bond in this 14th installment of the franchise as the British agent tracks down the origins of a microchip found in the body of a deal colleague. Christopher Walken plays a psychotic industrialist who wants to corner the market on microchips with the help of his bodyguard May Day (Grace Jones). Although the movie may have done reasonably well at the box office, “View to a Kill” garnered generally poor reviews for its campiness.

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22. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
> Domestic box office: $147.1 million
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 64%
> Starring: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Gabriele Ferzetti

Following Sean Connery’s first retirement from the Bond series, Australian-born George Lazenby slipped into the role of the suave spy who once again battles his nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Based on the 1963 novel of the same name, this installment is noteworthy because we meet Bond’s one and only wife, Tracy, played by the elegant Diana Rigg. (Spoiler alert: she dies.)

21. Never Say Never Again (1983)
> Domestic box office: $161.4 million
> IMDb rating: 6.2
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 37%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow

After Sean Connery declared that he would never play Bond again following “Diamonds Are Forever” in 1971, he returned to the role in this remake of a previous Bond film, “Thunderball.” And like Connery, Bond is called back into action to retrieve two nuclear weapons stolen by SPECTRE — SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion — a worldwide criminal organization.

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20. Casino Royale (1967)
> Domestic box office: $170.8 million
> IMDb rating: 5.1
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 34%
> Starring: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles

Although the film is based on Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale” Bond novel, this film is a parody and not to be confused with the later version of the same title. David Niven plays 007, who is lured out of retirement to track down the killers of international spies, an organization known as SMERSH. Box office receipts were strong, but critics were less than impressed with the spy spoof.

19. Dr. No (1962)
> Domestic box office: $173.4 million
> IMDb rating: 7.2
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Bernard Lee, Joseph Wiseman

Moviegoers got their first taste of “Bond, James Bond” in this 1962 thriller. Bond travels to Jamaica to investigate the death of a fellow agent. There, he matches wits with the mysterious Dr. No, who aims to scuttle a planned space launch from Cape Canaveral. The movie also introduces audiences to SPECTRE — a nefarious organization Bond locks horns with on several occasions.

18. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
> Domestic box office: $180.6 million
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 64%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson

Similar to many of the 1980-era Bond films, “For Your Eyes Only” pits the British agent against the Soviets for control of a piece of technology — in this case the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, an encryption device used in the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet. The grittier film marked a welcome departure from earlier Bond movies that critics said were getting too silly and unbelievable.

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17. Live and Let Die (1973)
> Domestic box office: $190.4 million
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 64%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James

Roger Moore stepped into the role of Bond in his 1973 outing. Unlike previous Bond movies, Bond isn’t going toe to toe with Cold War adversaries. Instead, his mission is to stop a drug lord from distributing tons of heroin.

16. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
> Domestic box office: $192.2 million
> IMDb rating: 7.1
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 76%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel

In an unusual twist, Bond teams up with KGB agent Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), who vows to avenge the killing of her lover by Bond. (She doesn’t in the end.) The two set out to find an evil scientist (is there any other kind in a Bond film?) and stop his hijacking of two Russian and British nuclear submarines.

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15. Octopussy (1983)
> Domestic box office: $197.4 million
> IMDb rating: 6.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 47%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn

Maud Adams has the distinction of playing a Bond Girl twice (she was also in “The Man With the Golden Gun””. Here, she plays a wealthy businesswoman and smuggler who helps Bond break up a jewel theft operation run by a rogue Soviet general. Along the way, they stop a nuclear attack on NATO forces.

14. Quantum of Solace (2008)
> Domestic box office: $216.1 million
> IMDb rating: 6.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 58%
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench

Daniel Craig’s second foray into Bond territory drew tepid reviews after the success of the 2006 non-spoof version of “Casino Royale.” Bond seeks to find who blackmailed his lover, Vesper Lynd, and comes across Quantum, an organization plotting to control the water supply in Bolivia.

13. Spectre (2015)
> Domestic box office: $217.4 million
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 61%
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes

Old adversaries reunite in this recent Bond film as the British agent fights against the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his worldwide criminal network, SPECTRE. Although the name is the same, Blofeld is actually a pseudonym for another person from Bond’s past who wishes to do him harm. All in all, a clever way to update the franchise’s long-standing enemy.

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12. GoldenEye (1995)
> Domestic box office: $224.1 million
> IMDb rating: 7.2
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 83%
> Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen

After a six-year absence from the screen, Bond returned with Pierce Brosnan donning 007’s custom-made suit. Also noteworthy is the fact that M, head of MI6, was played by a woman for the first time — Judi Dench. The movie has Bond trying to foil a plot by a former ally to control a satellite system.

11. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
> Domestic box office: $229.8 million
> IMDb rating: 6.4
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 49%
> Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards

Bond is assigned to protect an oil heiress, Elektra (Sophie Marceau), from harm after her father is killed by an international terrorist. However, Bond later learns Elektra has a sinister connection to the terrorist and isn’t quite as innocent as she appears.

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10. Casino Royale (2006)
> Domestic box office: $234.1 million
> IMDb rating: 8.0
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89%
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright

Daniel Craig’s debut as Bond was well received by critics. After earning his 007 status and license to kill, Bond is ordered to stop a financier, Le Chiffre, from bankrolling terrorists. In the midst of high-stakes gambling games, Bond falls for Vesper Lynd, a woman whose death reverberates in the next Bond film, “Quantum of Solace.”

9. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
> Domestic box office: $243.2 million
> IMDb rating: 6.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 58%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood

After passing on playing Bond in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Sean Connery reprised 007 in the seventh Bond film. When Bond infiltrates a diamond smuggling operation, he finds himself thwarting old friend Blofeld’s plans to develop a laser satellite that can be used to control the world’s nuclear weapons.

8. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
> Domestic box office: $250.1 million
> IMDb rating: 6.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 53%
> Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher

Pierce Brosnan followed up his strong showing in “GoldenEye” with this 18th installment in the franchise. Rather than Cold War skullduggery, Bond attempts to foil a media mogul’s plan to set off World War III. Unlike Brosnan’s previous Bond films, “Tomorrow Never Dies” didn’t open at No.1 at the box office. It was sunk to second by “Titanic.”

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7. Die Another Day (2002)
> Domestic box office: $254.2 million
> IMDb rating: 6.1
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 41%
> Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens

In his final go-around as Bond, Brosnan partners with NSA agent Jinx (Halle Berry) to find out who betrayed him to the North Koreans. The frenetic plot includes a laser and a plan by the North Koreans to invade South Korea.

6. Moonraker (1979)
> Domestic box office: $260.7 million
> IMDb rating: 6.3
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 43%
> Starring: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel

Admittedly, Bond films are not known for the most credible of plots. But this version that has Bond tracking down a hijacking of a U.S. space shuttle was a bit over the top even by Bond standards. Bond and CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) struggle to stop Hugo Drax, a crazy industrialist played by Michael Lonsdale, from destroying life on earth.

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5. From Russia with Love (1963)
> Domestic box office: $264.1 million
> IMDb rating: 7.4
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, Daniela Bianchi

James Bond’s second film is a gritty Cold War spy thriller that has 007 chasing after a decoding device called the Lektor with the help of Tatiana Romanova, a clerk in the Soviet embassy in Istanbul. SPECTRE makes its first appearance as the shadowy crime organization hellbent on world chaos.

4. You Only Live Twice (1967)
> Domestic box office: $323.6 million
> IMDb rating: 6.9
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 68%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama, Tetsurô Tanba

Bond tangles up with Blofeld and SPECTRE to thwart a plan to instigate a war between the U.S. and the Soviets. The title refers to the plot twist that has Bond faking his own death at the film’s beginning to uncover the conspiracy.

3. Skyfall (2012)
> Domestic box office: $350.2 million
> IMDb rating: 7.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86%
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench

Bond’s mission isn’t to save the world in “Skyfall.” It’s to decipher who has exposed every MI6 agent and destroyed the agency’s headquarters. In addition to the villain, a traitor known as Silva, Bond locks horns with M, a role Judi Dench bowed out of after this film.

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2. Goldfinger (1964)
> Domestic box office: $383.7 million
> IMDb rating: 7.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton

Generally considered the best of Bond films, “Goldfinger” not only has an entertaining (if somewhat unbelievable) plot, but a memorable theme song, too. The villain in this installment, Auric Goldfinger, wants to contaminate the U.S. gold supply at Fort Knox so his gold will become more valuable.

1. Thunderball (1965)
> Domestic box office: $477.5 million
> IMDb rating: 7.0
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 73%
> Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi

This top-grossing Bond film has all the elements of what makes a Bond film a Bond film — exotic locations, thrilling action sequences (this time mostly done underwater), and a madman who wants to rule the world. SPECTRE is at the center of a plan to steal two NATO atomic bombs and hold them for ransom. Yet this time, Blofeld isn’t the instigator; it’s another SPECTRE member, Emilio Largo.

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