Audiences Rave About "Skyfall"

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
November 19th, 2012

Audiences Rave About "Skyfall"

-- When actor Daniel Craig signed on to become the next James Bond in the immensely popular Bond film series, the plan was to release one film every two years, beginning with "Casino Royale" in 2006. With the release of "Quantum of Solace" in 2008, all seemed to be going according to plan. Unfortunately, the third film in the series was delayed due to studio MGM's impending bankruptcy that same year. Not only would there not be a third Craig film in 2010, there was no way to tell how long it would take MGM to emerge from bankruptcy, putting off the next film indefinitely.

Thankfully, it took MGM less time than previously thought to finish their restructuring process, and they got a loan from JP Morgan to begin filming in the fall of 2011 for release a year later. The four-year gap between "Quantum of Solace" and the eventual third film, "Skyfall," might have been a blessing in disguise for the series. Not only were fans of the series salivating for a film after such a long hiatus, but the 2012 release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the series, which only made more people want to see it.

Anticipation can also work against a film, because the end product sometimes falls short of the growing expectations. Fans of Bond had nothing to worry about, though, as "Skyfall" earned an impossibly good "A" score from CinemaScore. This score is compiled by employees of CinemaScore surveying viewers after they have watched a particular film in the theater. The viewers are asked a wide range of questions about what they loved, liked, or hated about the film. They are also asked for demographics like gender and age to help studios determine which of their films play better to certain audiences.

This is not only one of the top scores a film can possibly get from CinemaScore (the highest being an A+), but it is also a very hard grade to get. This is because audiences rarely agree across the board about how good or bad a film is. There are not only the differences in individual taste to account for, but for a film like "Skyfall," there is a fervent fan base that could have widely varying opinions.

All James Bond films come with a built-in base of fans that already have their own ideas about how the iconic spy should be portrayed. This is not unlike comic book fans, who look over every superhero film released with a magnifying lens. Since the Bond films are based on the previously released novels by Ian Fleming, there is a lot of material to cull from. Yet, the producers of "Skyfall" decided to take a huge risk and break with tradition, commissioning a script that is not based on any of Fleming's previous tomes. This had the potential to anger many longtime fans, who might then react adversely when polled about the film, affecting its overall audience score.

The audience for "Skyfall" was sixty percent male, which is no surprise with an action film. The fact that it still got the highest rating with forty percent of the audience being female is nothing but good news for MGM, because it means that not only is the film reaching a fairly diverse audience, but also being enjoyed by them. The positive female audience reaction likely has to do with the fact that the newest Bond Girl, Eve (Naomie Harris), is not only a fellow spy, but a force to be reckoned with. She isn't just arm candy like previous Bond Girls.

Despite the risky screenplay and partial reinvention of the character, "Skyfall" was not only a hit with moviegoers, but with critics as well. According to the website Rotten Tomatoes, the combined score of critics from major publications and the internet gives the film a 92% positive rate. Of course, this is not always indicative of how well a film will fare with audiences or how much it will take in at the box office, but it does help when advance word-of-mouth from critics is good.

The audience reaction and huge international and domestic box office haul for "Skyfall" has breathed new life into the Bond franchise. The next film is scheduled for release in 2014 with Daniel Craig reprising the role of James Bond, though no other information is yet known about it. What is known, however, is that with this kind of positive audience reaction and momentum, the film will likely be a gargantuan hit.