These days, lasting for more than 2 years constitutes an impressive lifespan for a pop culture phenomenon. November of 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of cinema’s most enduring franchise and what has now become touchstone for multiple generations. Coinciding with this anniversary, Skyfall, the 23rd film in the series following British Secret Service agent James Bond (or 24th, counting Never Say Never Again, which exists outside of the official canon, having not been produced by Eon Productions) was released to the public, a huge box office hit.
In an era where prolonged success is so fleeting, how has the Bond franchise managed to sustain itself through changing trends and an evolving audience?
As much as the world has changed since Dr. No, the first installment of the series, debuted in 1962, the films themselves have stayed true to their roots. As we discussed in Junction’s 2012 Annual Report, the makers of the iconic films have never deviated from a pure understanding of what has worked in the past and why. Even as the principal actors portraying the suave and bulletproof Bond himself have passed on the reins, the character himself has become seemingly more everlasting. Each entry in the series has similar qualities, marked by memorable villains, witty one-liners and double entendres, and fast paced, standard-setting action sequences. Yes, the film industry has advanced dramatically over the course of the past half-century, but as visually gripping and pulse-pounding as the Bond films become, these core pieces are parts of an equation that has resonated with audiences for decades now, and shows no signs of slowing.
Bond films are the perfect blend of nostalgia, tried and true, with what is cutting edge and new. This marriage of innovation and tradition is a perfect example of an approach which works in many contexts, whether in business or in Hollywood. In 50 more years, James Bond will likely still be as smooth as an expertly made martini – shaken, not stirred, of course.