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New Bond film holds much promise

October 29, 2008 14:24 IST

If the early buzz holds good, the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum Of Solace, could become the biggest money-making Bond film ever when it releases on November 7.

Hollywood insiders expect the film to out-gross the previous Bond adventure Casino Royale, which grossed nearly $600 million worldwide. That would make Daniel Craig's second Bond film the third most successful film of the year, following The Dark Knight ($993 million and counting) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull ($780 million).

The new Bond film carries certain amount of emotional weight too, in addition to car chases and other adrenaline pumping adventures. It offers a story of grieving Bond, who sets out to avenge the murder of his beloved Vesper Lynd. In a sense, the new Bond adventure is a sequel to Casino Royale.

The worldwide arrival of the Bond film, which will be released in North America a week after its Indian debut, adds plenty of excitement to the box office season. This week, High School Musical 3: Senior Year grossed an estimated $82 million worldwide in just three days. It was number one in North America and in the international circuit becoming the first worldwide chart-topper since the Batman sequel The Dark Knight in July, producer Disney said. The fact that it is yet to open in many territories outside North America shows that it will be a major player for quite some time.

A scene from High School Musical 3: Senior YearThe High School Musical films have given a very high profile to its young stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale. The latest film is set in a fictional New Mexico high school, where Troy (Efron) is torn between a basketball scholarship and his song-and-dance dreams.

Though the Disney film may not have the strength to match the grand success of Mamma Mia!, which has grossed $550 million worldwide and still has some life left, the teenage romantic musical is nevertheless on its way to become one of the biggest hits of the year. Hollywood insiders expect it to gross at least $300 million worldwide. Unlike Quantum Of Solace and The Dark Knight, the former costing $200 million and latter $20 million less, the new musical was made for about $12 million. Mamma Mia! cost about $65 million.

In the Halloween season, the musical far outgrossed Saw V, which nevertheless opened to a strong $30 million. But while the gorefest will not be spilling blood beyond three or four weeks, the musical could be dancing among the top 10 films of the week for a longer time.

The new James Bond adventure could also set a record. In America, where the Bond films are hits but not spectacularly successful, Quantum of Solace could become the first film in the franchise to cross the $200 million mark. Casino Royale, released two years ago, grossed $167 million in North America. 

Quantum Of Solace is getting plenty of respect from the trade publications Variety and Screen International. It is the thinking man's Bond, declared Variety, pointing out that Marc Forster -- known for his smaller movies such as Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball -- has deftly directed Quantum Of Solace. Forster has not forgotten the action and chase parts of the franchise, the influential trade publication said, but he has also given the film 'arty, tasteful and elegant' look.'

A scene from Saw V'The film's most ambitious set-piece, a lyrical homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, unfolds on the floating stage of a Bregenz Festival Opera House performance of Tosca,' Variety reported.

Forster, who was born in Germany and was raised in Switzerland, divides his time between America and Switzerland. This is the first action film he has directed but he has confessed he saw a James Bond movie for the first time when he was offered the Bond film. He added that he was never daunted by the prospect of making a high tech film. His last released film The Kite Runner, based on Khaled Hosseini's bestseller, was made for just about $20 million. And yet the heart-piercing film went on to earn not only good reviews but also a solid $80 million worldwide.

When Forster was approached by Sony to make the Bond film, he was initially not enthusiastic. But his colleagues including his film editor and set designer pushed him into doing the film. The final part of the persuasion came when Sony honchos told Forster, according to newspaper reports, that they wanted him to take the Bond franchise 'a step further.'

And it shows on the screen, the trade publications say.

'Blue eyes on fire and jaw set to resolute, Daniel Craig clearly owns Bond in Quantum Of Solace: but it's the relentless pace, the quality of art direction and production design -- in fact, director Marc Forster's sheer technical ambition -- which raise the bar and make this one of the most remarkable action films ever made,' declared Screen International. 'Bond fans may hanker after his gadgets or some of the camp which Craig & co have so firmly extracted from the role, Casino Royale converts might, justifiably, wish for a stronger story, but one thing is certain: as an action film, this will be a tough act to follow.'

Given Forster's reputation for making quirky films with unexpected twists that have appealed to the hip and younger audiences, the new Bond film could win the intrepid spy a new generation of fans.

Arthur J Pais