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The James Bond Movie That Made The Least Money In Theaters

You know him by several different faces, but only one name. Bond, James Bond. For nearly 60 years, author Ian Fleming's famous British Secret Service Agent 007 has dazzled movie audiences with his globe-trotting, world-saving, spy game adventures. That's an impressively long career in such a dangerous line of work (show business, that is). Over the years, the enduring series has starred the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and most recently, Daniel Craig. All have brought unique traits to the role of Bond, and everyone has their own personal favorite. It's always a worthy debate at dinner parties over a vodka martini, shaken not stirred.

With 26 "official" films in the collection to date (sadly 1983's Connery return in "Never Say Never Again" wasn't technically part of the series, so it doesn't count), we've seen Connery play Bond seven times (officially), while Moore suited up for eight, Lazenby just once, Dalton twice, Brosnan did four, and Craig recently wrapped up his stint at five films.

The bulletproof franchise altogether has earned close to $8 billion at the worldwide box office, via The Numbers. While the most recent chapter, 2021's "No Time To Die" may have seen a relative dip (we are still in a pandemic), it still brought in $160 million domestically, proving the beloved spy is still far from retirement. In fact, considering how most of the Bond films have done exceptional business, the lowest-grossing of the bunch is hard to guess.

Bond bottomed out with Timothy Dalton

This is where things get tricky because just looking at the dollar amounts for each Bond movie isn't fair. According to that gauge, the first entry in the series lands in the cellar. 1963's "Dr. No" only collected $16 million domestically (via The Numbers). But ticket prices were considerably lower back then, and they have fluctuated through the series' entire run for that matter. So what we really need to look at here is the adjusted dollar amount, which is based on the actual number of tickets sold, which in turn levels the playing field. 

Per this metric, we discover that it is Timothy Dalton's swan song that gets the dubious honor. 1989's Dalton-starring "Licence To Kill" made a mere $35 million ($73 million adjusted via Business Insider.) The adjusted total of "Dr. No" is over twice that amount. Dalton's goodbye to the franchise fell so flat that the producers waited six years before rebooting Bond with Pierce Brosnan in 1995's much more successful "GoldenEye." 

So what went wrong with "Licence To Kill" for audiences? For one thing, it was a bit darker and more violent than earlier installments had been. Dalton's Bond was also more sullen than previous incarnations, particularly his immediate predecessor Roger Moore, who always approached the role with more of a comedic wink. That said, "Licence to Kill" is actually a fairly entertaining entry in the series and has a 78% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It just wasn't what audiences wanted at the time.  

As for the high mark, that distinction belongs to 1965's "Thunderball" at $63 million (adjusted to $624 million via Business Insider). It of course starred the original Bond, Sean Connery. Apparently, nobody does it better.