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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Why is Skyfall resonating so powerfully with British audiences?

Skyfall Daniel Craig

The latest James Bond flick, Skyfall is performing extremely well around the world; it’s now the highest grossing Bond movie ever in North America, for instance. But that’s nothing compared to how Skyfall is doing in Britain, where it has passed Titanic to become the No. 2 all-time box office champ at the U.K. box office, and is within spitting distance of overtaking Avatar, the current No. 1. The film is nowhere near the top rankings in the U.S. and Canada, and it will not get there.
Why is Skyfall resonating so powerfully with British audiences?

My take (which I shared when I first posted a link about the film’s extraordinary reception in the U.K.):

Skyfall does have a feeling of making Bond (and the U.K.) relevant again, if only in a fictional way that is close to plausible. All the previous Bond films (I mean, pre Daniel Craig) have felt a little bit ridiculous, like they were trying really hard to convince themselves that the U.K. was still a world power. Skyfall finally catches up with the post 9/11 world in which the U.K. has had a dramatic impact on the world stage, both as a partner in the U.S.’s mess in the Middle East and with London’s financial center, the City, as arguably even more important than Wall Street in the financial crisis. (Not positive impacts on the world, then, but impacts nevertheless.)

Comparatively speaking, Skyfall has seen many many more admissions in the U.K., on a percentage-of-population basis, than in the U.S. And anecdotally, I can say that it feels like everyone I know or speak to in London has seen the film, and I mean beyond my circle of colleagues and fellow movie geeks. And the few people who haven’t seen the film — including those who could not remotely be called movie geeks — feel left out. It’s a definitely phenomenon here. Certainly, a film does not get to the level of success Skyfall has seen in the U.K. without bringing in many many people who don’t normally go to the movies at all.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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