007 handed a licence to print money

23:00, Nov 21 2012
CREATING A STIR: Daniel Craig greets fans at the <I>Skyfall</I> Australian premiere at Sydney’s State Theatre last week.

As the latest James Bond, Daniel Craig already had a licence to kill; now he has a licence to print money.

The actor has just signed up for the next two Bond films with a contract worth £31 million (NZ$60.4m), making him the highest-paid British actor.

Craig will also become the highest-paid 007 when he stars in the next two films, due to premiere in 2014 and 2016.

The deal puts Craig near the top of the Hollywood payroll, where Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio have made $91m and $45m respectively over the past year.

It also puts him ahead of the best-paid British actors in the year to May: Sacha Baron Cohen, who earned $37m for his writing and producing, and the Twilight star Robert Pattinson, who earned $32m.

Craig clambered on to the Bond gravy train in 2006, earning $3.67m from Casino Royale. He was paid $8.56m in 2008 for Quantum of Solace. The previous Bond incarnation, Pierce Brosnan, received $14.68m for The World Is Not Enough in 1999 and $20.19m for Die Another Day in 2002.


Yet Craig would top the Bond earnings league when he starred in Skyfall, the latest Bond movie, and received $20.8m. Skyfall became the fastest in the franchise to pass the £50m ($97.43m) barrier at the box office. Since its release last month it has taken over £378m ($736.58m).

Craig is certainly playing Bond at the best time possible.

When George Lazenby was awarded the starring role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, he was paid £34,000, or about $896,000 in today's money. But the budget for that film was only $8.56m.

Skyfall's budget is reported to have been in the region of $183m to $245m.

The new film has taken more in its first month than Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace took in their entire cinema life in the UK. Although Sony, the distributor, predicted cautiously that Skyfall would make $974.3m around the world, experts and fans are already thinking about $1 billion. However, according to forums on MI6-HQ, the unofficial James Bond website, it's looking more likely the film will just fall short of the billion.

Yesterday Craig surprised 800 military personnel who were about to watch Skyfall when he arrived at Britain's Camp Bastion in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

He gave them an introduction to the film before taking a tour of the military base, and was able to see some of the training the soldiers carry out before they are deployed to operating bases. The Times

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