50 Years of James Bond
Step-siblings Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson may be sitting atop one of the longest-running and most lucrative film franchises (more than $3.5 billion total gross), but the dynamic “Bond” producer duo make sure to never rest on their laurels.
Since Broccoli, along with Wilson, inherited the James Bond franchise after her acclaimed father, Cubby, passed away, the pair have pushed the epic film series to even greater stature whilst also keeping 007 close to its roots.
“You’ve got to take risks with a franchise and we haven’t been afraid to make changes and adapt with the times,” says Broccoli, who notes that even James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, told her father that he would have to invent stories and new capers because he believed the film series would outlive the books.
And so it has.
Since taking the helm at Eon Productions in 1996, Broccoli and Wilson have reinvented the franchise twice and seen the pics generate more than $2.6 billion, with each of their Bond releases outperforming its predecessor at the U.S. box office.
One key to that success has been recognizing when to inject fresh blood and new story angles.
A case in point: recasting Daniel Craig, a younger, rugged blond, as Bond. Craig’s 007 persona is a far cry from Pierce Brosnan’s sultry, suave interpretation.
“When we got the rights to do ‘Casino Royale’ for the first time, it meant we needed to reset it back and it meant we needed a new face for Bond,” Wilson says.
Broccoli puts the longevity of the franchise down to two things: First, staying true to “the principles that Cubby started.”
Cubby wanted Bond pics to be producer-driven, so his heirs feel it’s important for them to be hands-on, just as he was.
“There’s always someone at the helm and someone with an eye on the ball,” says Barbara Broccoli. “We set parameters given the changing times and some things sometimes shift within those parameters.”
Also following Cubby’s lead, they try to be collaborative, and to be respectful of Fleming’s character whilst not being afraid to push boundaries.
Second, Barbara Broccoli and Wilson point to Bond’s loyal fans as perhaps the most important driver steering the franchise past the 50-year mark. “Thank God we have a very strong fan base because we make films for them and they’ve been very forgiving at times when we’ve steered off course,” she quips.
“We have a responsibility to keep it going,” Wilson adds. “Nobody wants to work on the last James Bond film.”