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Bond: Casino Royale’s Success and What to Take From It

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Fifty-five years, twenty-four movies, a legendary book series and a children’s version to boot. James Bond is a worldwide cultural icon. What with his shaken martinis, pocket pistols and manufactured gadgets to keep the bad guys in a tow, he’s Britain’s most exported man with BMW brand backing. As a franchise today, the Bond media has an estimated value of over $17 billion, and there’s no sign of slowing growth as the years continue to roll by. But just as Bond’s actor finds himself reincarnated from time to time, so too do the tone and drama of the actual films.

Casino Royale was the first of a modern series reboot, and it took us a to a darker, harder underworld – one to suit the modern day. One of gritty violence, wounds and subterfuge on a level with current crime fiction. Over a decade later, with waning plot lines and Daniel Craig set to retire from the role, perhaps it’s time for the producers to look back at what made Casino such a success, and what they can take from it.

Casino Royale’s Success and the Reasons Behind It

Earning almost $600 million worldwide at the box office, Casino Royale has since sold over 100,000 media copies, earned numerous five-star reviews and accolades, and was third on Empire’s list of best movies during the 2006 year of its release. Why? Because it was exquisitely Bond. In a very literal and metaphorical transition from old to new, the black and white opening scene sees murder, violence, deceit and spies in the shadows, till the shot comes in, the blood runs down, and the classic theme begins to play. This was a fresh take on the Bond story, and audiences appreciated the updated content without a doubt, whilst at its core, the film remained traditional in many senses – also appreciated. Producers should remember that. We had a love interest – a capable Bond girl – and we had the titular casino scene with a showdown between good and bad.

The latter is perhaps the most interesting inclusion. It was a bridge between classic and revamped Bond. Casino has been a love of many for centuries, even more so in the modern day with the availability of live casino on mobile and browser, complete with real human dealers and cards dealt in real time, as well as in person at the tables themselves. To centre and title the film on such a premise was smart move, indeed. It was a familiar environment with a new twist. You could say that about the whole film, actually.

Carrying Forwards, The Next Bond. What to Scrap, and What to Keep

What to keep, then? What to carry forwards? The sequels to Casino Royale were all just as dark and moody as their predecessor, akin to the Nolan Batman series in their unforgiving grit where once was humour and wit. But none were so impactful as Casino, none as truly unique. Our advice to producers relative to all the above? Take it somewhere new. Take a new actor, a new theme, a new personality. The reason the Bond series, and indeed casino, has been such a success is because it welcomes change. It’s a timeline of characters all sharing the same traits and inclinations, so be daring and push it that little bit further. Go all in with whoever is the new face of Bond, and surprise us. Don’t forget the old, but bring in the new. That’s what casino did. That’s why it was so well received.

Perhaps they’ve something to learn from Disney’s recent foray into a new Star Wars series: acknowledgement of what’s come before, and vast leaps into the now. Only time will tell, but there’s no doubt about it. Bond will be with us for many years to come. Whether he’s a humorous comedian, a sullen brooder, or a dashing rogue remains to be seen.

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