The Globalization of James Bond through Co-Production

Last week I discussed the impact of deregulation on media industries. This week while reading chapters 1-4 in Tanner Mirrlees Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Globalization the impact on deregulation on the industry was once again discussed but Tanner argues that the impact of deregulation limits the players within the industry, but that it also impacts the globalization of media.

“As a result of corporate and technological convergence, a small number of powerful media conglomerates have gained control over almost every sector, circuit, and medium of the entertainment industry as a whole” (78).

This week I’m discussing Skyfall and the James Bond franchise. The films through Eon Productions have become a global franchise. The film is a global commodity through the film’s co-production, ownership of the franchise as well as the marketability of the franchise on a global market.

Here’s a playlist to get you in the mood for James Bond.

Skyfall, the twenty-third James Bond film was produced by Eon productions. Eon Productions is a British film production

Skyfall Movie Poster

Skyfall Movie Poster

company. Eon Productions is a subsidiary of Danjaq LLC located in Santa Monica, California.

Skyfall is an equity co-production between the U.S. and the U.K. “Equity co-productions constitute a strategic and temporary partnership between two or more companies, driven by the search for maximal profits . . . They do not directly involve issues of cultural policy and national identity” (160).

Eon was a public and family corporation started by film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1961. The two also formed Danjaq which became Eon’s holding company. The copyrights and trademarks for the film properties are all held by Danjaq and United Artists Corporation. UA was bought by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1981. Skyfall along with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Spectre are co-distributed with Columbia Pictures. The rights for all of Eon’s Bond films are owned by MGM Home Entertainment and are controlled by MGM’s distributor 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“TNMCS [transnational media corporations] based there regularly finance the production of films and TV shows made elsewhere. Equity or venture co-productions occur when a US-based TNMC co-finances the production of a TV show or film by NMC [national media corporations] in another country, often in return for distribution rights to the finished entertainment product” (160).

The James Bond franchise began with the books by Ian Fleming. Since Fleming’s death in 1964, seven other authors have written authorized Bond novels Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner (British author), Raymond Benson

Roger Moore and Ian Fleming

Sean Connery and Ian Fleming

Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, William Boyd, and Anthony Horowitz. Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond and Kate Westbrook wrote three novels based on the diaries of a recurring series character, Moneypenny.

Fleming’s books and short stories include:

Casino Royale (1953)

Live and Let Die (1954)

Moonraker (1955)

Diamonds Are Forever (1956)

From Russia with Love (1957)

Dr. No (1958)

Goldfinger (1959)

For Your Eyes Only (1960) (Short Stories)

Thunderball (1961)

The Spy who Loved Me (1962)

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)

You Only Live Twice (1964)

The Man with the Golden Gun (1965)

Octopussy and the Living Daylights (1966) (Short Stories)

All of these books and short stories have been adapted into fifteen of the films produced by Eon Productions. These films are then adapted into other forms of entertainment like video games.

The character of James Bond has been adapted for television, radio, comic strip, video games, and film. The films are the longest continually running and third-highest grossing film series to date. The series started in 1962 with Dr. No starring Sean Connery. As of 2015 there have been a total of twenty-four films produced by Eon Productions. There have been a total of six actors who have played James Bond: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. There have also been two independent productions of Bond films: Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983).

The six actors who have portrayed James Bond.

The six actors who have portrayed James Bond.

“Media conglomerates design synergistic entertainment products to generate as much revenue from one hub as possible. Unlike traditional storytelling, wherein one story is contained by one media form (ie, a TV show or a film), synergistic franchises—or ‘trans-media stories’—spread across many platforms” (86).

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Skyfall could also be considered a runaway production in the sense of the way in which it was filmed. Here’s a list of locations where the film was shot:

The Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands

Istanbul, Turkey,

Hashima Island, Japan,

Adana, Turkey,

Glen Etive, Scotland,

Glencoe,  Scotland

Surrey, England,

Fethiye, Turkey

London, England

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island, Japan

Albert R. Brocoli Studio in London, England

Oxfordshire, England

Shanghai, China

“Runaway productions tend to be classified as either ‘creative’ or ‘economic.’ When a production company shoots on a TV show or film ‘on-location at far-flung sites in the search for scenic and

artistic effects deemed essential for the achievement of specific aesthetic goals,’ a creative runaway’ has occurred” (155).

The Bond films are renowned for their theme songs. The songs and the singers become almost as iconic as the films themselves. The music becomes associated with each film.

“Media conglomerates design one single media property to be exploited and delivered to consumers through a plurality of exhibition platforms” (86).

“Skyfall,” theme for the 2012 film was performed by English singer Adele. It was written by Adele and producer Paul Epworth. Eon productions invited Adele to work on the theme song in 2011. Adele was able to read the script in order to incorporate elements of the film’s plot into the song.

The song went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was the first Bond theme to win the award.  It was also the first Bond theme to receive an Academy Award nomination since the 1982 song “For Your Eyes Only.”

“Another important kind of entertainment production in the NICL[New International Division of Cultural Labor] is the international co-production: a media policy and business arrangement between two or more states and media corporations committed to the production of a TV show or film that intends to circulate in two or more national markets. International co-productions occur when media corporations from two or more different states agree to ‘collaborate’ and pool goods, rights or services’ in order to produce a film or TV show that ‘either of the co-producers alone would find difficult to achieve in any other way” (159).

It’s interesting that James Bond has become an American commodity since it’s based on a British book series by a British author about a British secret agent. But because of the films’ ownership and distribution, a co-production between the U.S. and the U.K. the films have become almost just as much an American commodity as it has become a British commodity. The films have also become a global production between the U.S and the U.K. which maximizes the profits by combining resources and increasing the market in which the product is released.

Interesting Reading:

History behind the Hashima Island in Japan.


  1. […] James Bond franchise which I posted about last week also has had a significant impact on tourism; just look at all […]

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