COVID has produced the longest delay between same-actor Bond films EVER: almost 6 years.
In looking at this, a pretty amazing stat popped out: On average, starting with the release of Dr. No in 1962 and continuing through the last Timothy Dalton film in 1989, a Bond film was released about every 20 months for 27 years. That sounds insane but the numbers don’t lie. The first three came out a year apart, followed by a 20 month gap between Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. Then we settled down to something between 18 and 24 months for Moore’s run — sometimes less.
Even recasting events didn’t blow that up too much. There WAS a then-unprecedented 30 month gap between Connery’s almost-last outing (You Only Live Twice in 1967) and the sole George Lazenby film (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969) — but Connery’s return film came out not quite two years later, and then Roger Moore’s debut (Live and Let Die) dropped less than 600 days later.
The shift from Moore to Dalton didn’t even create a delay: The Living Daylights opened a hair over two years after A View to a Kill, so more or less right on time.
The largest gap between films came in the handoff between Dalton’s last outing and the release of Goldeneye: almost six and a half years. The delay was due to what can best be described as inter-corporate chicanery. Dalton was actually on a 3-movie deal, and they were on track to do the film by 1990 when the project hit “development hell” owing to legal problems between MGM and the Broccoli family (who have always held the film rights to Bond). MGM was in talks to be acquired, but the deal was getting dicy, and the new owners had plans to generate quick cash by selling international broadcast rights to the 007 films on the cheap, so the Broccolis sued, and while all this was going on Dalton’s contract expired.
Long story short: Goldeneye wasn’t released until 1995, with a new Bond, which was fine because in those 6 years the world had changed quite a bit.
Once they had Brosnan, though, they moved pretty quickly; his films have an average interval of about 2.3 years, or not much different than Moore or Dalton.
The gap after Brosnan, though, is big: the 3rd largest of the set, at 3.99 years. It appears no single factor can be blamed. Eon Productions had (finally) acquired the rights to Casino Royale in 1999, but then they needed to find a good Bond and a good director, and that took up some time.
Craig’s films came slower: on average, 3.7 years counting almost-6-year-gap for No Time to Die, but closer to 3 if we ditch the outlier. If NTTD had dropped on its original date in 2019, Craig’s average would still be high at 3.25 years; only once is the gap less than 2 years (and it shows, since Quantum of Solace is terrible).
Craig’s tenure overall has been on a slower pace: prior to COVID, there’s been an average 3 years between each of his films.
It turns out, though, that the gap between films has been increasing over time, even when we take out gaps due to other factors (like the MGM/UA thing):
- Connery: 1.5 years (which factors in Lazenby; Connery’s first 4 were all only a year apart)
- Moore: 1.9 years
- Dalton: 2 years
- Brosnan: 2.3 years (omitting Goldeneye gap)
- Craig: 3.25 years (omitting DAD->CR gap and crediting back “COVID” delay)
Overall, there’s been a new Bond film about every 2.5 years for almost 60 years. That’s kind of amazing.