James Bond was a role that turned Sean Connery into a guaranteed box office draw. Whether he was donning a tuxedo & downing martinis or not. But what were his biggest films away from 007?
Thomas Sean Connery was a silver screen, box office colossus. A giant of late 20th-century cinema. Of that, there can be no doubt. There can also be no doubt that he was best known as James Bond – a role that brought him eternal superstardom. Here we count down his top 10 away from the secret agent. Sadly that doesn’t include Juan Sanchez-Villalobos Ramirez of Highlander or Zardoz, despite Connery sporting an enormous french plait & an outfit that even Mr. Grey might have considered outlandish. You would’ve thought people would be queueing around the block to see that!
THE RULES: This list is based on worldwide box office gross adjusted for inflation.
10. Finding Forrester (2000)
Connery’s penultimate big-screen outing made $135m. By comparison, his lowest-grossing official Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever, made 5 times that.
In this film, the screen veteran is playing opposite an actor who was making his film debut. Rob Brown plays a teenager invited to attend a prestigious private school. Connery is a reclusive writer, based on JD Salinger, who nurtures & encourages Brown to fulfil his potential. The movie also features rapper Busta Rhymes & Matt Damon. They’re in a story Rotten Tomatoes suggests has similarities to his breakthrough film ‘Good Will Hunting’. If you’ve never seen the film, don’t worry, Deadline Hollywood has reported that NBC is developing a TV version.
9. Rising Sun (1993)
An excellent cast that included two of the Reservoir Dogs, Harvey Keitel & Steve Buscemi. Alas, delivered something of a dog’s dinner of a film, based on a Michael Crichton novel. A film that falls squarely in the average column, at least as far as Rotten Tomatoes & IMDb are concerned, where it holds ratings of 33% & 6.3/10 respectively. You would imagine that casting Sean Connery as a character called John Connor would be a sure-fire way towards box office success. But this was a rare missed opportunity in his career. Nonetheless, it still earned $235m at the box office.
8. DragonHeart (1996)
The first film Connery was only heard and not seen in, as he lent his voice to the dragon, Draco. This was released not long after the first Toy Story film. That was a point in cinematic history when major actors were beginning to lend their voices to animated characters. What a coup it must have been for the film-makers to have got a silver screen superstar to voice one of their key roles. Although, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly did have reservations, saying “If only Sean Connery didn’t have such a wonderfully distinctive voice, Draco might live and breathe as his own creature.” Not so much a criticism, more a back-handed compliment of Connery’s iconic Scottish brogue.
Sir Sean wasn’t seen, but his facial expressions from other films were used to influence the dragon’s look when he was delivering a line with a particular emotion. This decision was borne out when it was nominated for the Oscar for Visual Effects. Critical reception was mixed – it has a score of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it has gone on to become something of a cult classic for children. It has spawned some direct-to-video sequels & prequels, and the obligatory computer games as well.
First Knight (1995)
A film that arguably suffered given it was released in the same year as a couple of other notable historical epics in Braveheart & Rob Roy. In fact, Braveheart star Mel Gibson was originally lined up to direct this, before donning the saltire war paint to portray William Wallace. Sir Sean ups the ante after his cameo as King Richard in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, playing King Arthur in this medieval drama.
Connery’s performance was praised by critics but Richard Gere’s performance as Lancelot was widely criticised. Jerry Zucker, renowned for directing iconic comedies like Airplane, Top Secret & The Naked Gun, hit a rare bum note with this one.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Sir Sean’s final live-action film role before his retirement in 2006 earned him $17m. That amount is nowhere near what he could have earned if he’d accepted the role of Gandalf in the Lord of The Rings trilogy. According to the New Zealand Herald, that could have netted him an eye-watering $450m!
Based on a comic book series, this dieselpunk superhero film ended up being a clash of styles & ideas. Connery had many clashes with the director, Stephen Norrington. In fact, things went so wrong that Norrington hasn’t directed a film since, and didn’t attend the opening party. When he wasn’t there, Connery allegedly quipped about his whereabouts “Check the local asylum!”
Empire said it ‘flirts dangerously close with one-star ignominy’. But despite a critical mauling, this Sean Connery flick still made $270m at the box office, which is slightly more than First Knight.
5. Entrapment (1999)
After Catherine Zeta-Jones missed out on the role of Guinevere in First Knight, she teamed up with Sir Sean in his last role as a romantic lead. She played an insurance investigator attempting to track down his professional art thief.
The 39 year age gap between the two leads did cause some consternation with viewers. Their love scene was voted the second-worst of all time by the readers of Film magazine. The plot was criticised by some, but the film garnered lots of positive reviews. The action sequences were widely praised and described as Bond-Esque by legendary critic Roger Ebert. But neither the age gap nor the plot seemed to put off audiences, who ensured the film was a box office success, bringing in over $380m.
4. The Hunt for Red October (1990)
A superb spy film that made $430m, courtesy of the master of the genre, Tom Clancy. Die Hard’s John McTiernan directs the first screen appearance of Jack Ryan. Here, Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin before Harrison Ford took over the role after he turned it down for this film. Sean Connery plays the Red October’s, Captain Marko Ramius. He combined gravitas, ruthlessness & wisdom with a toupee worth an alleged $20000, as he defects with a Russian nuclear submarine. Connery wasn’t the first choice for the role and only took it (at the second time of asking) after Klaus Maria Brandauer dropped out two weeks into filming.
3. The Untouchables (1987)
Where do we start with the film that won Connery his only Oscar? The barely attempted Irish accent. The unmistakably leftfield Brian De Palma direction. The almost pantomime portrayal of Al Capone by Robert De Niro. While some of these aspects may grate a little at times, they’re essential ingredients in the charm of this multi-award-winning Chicago gangster classic, which took $434m at the box office.
Don Johnson & Mickey Rourke were considered for the role of Eliot Ness, and Bob Hoskins was in the frame to play Capone if De Niro turned it down. But no-one else could embody ‘The Chicago Way’ the way Sir Sean did tough cop Jimmy Malone.
2. The Rock (1996)
Sir Sean manages to steal every scene he is in, despite Nicolas Cage’s best efforts, in this Michael Bay action behemoth. It’s not surprising Connery nails his role as former Alcatraz resident John Mason, given he’s playing a former British secret agent. Talk about type-casting?! But as usual, he saves the day & foils the bad guy, even though Ed Harris’s cause is far nobler than those seeking world domination in his Bond films.
Given it’s a Michael Bay, reviews of The Rock were typically sniffy. But with a script polished by Aaron Sorkin, and a lot of Connery’s lines written by comedy writers Dick Clement & Ian Le Frenais, it’s no surprise it did so well with audiences. It was the 4th highest-grossing film of 1996 in the US & ended up making nearly $700m.
1. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)
Stephen Spielberg wrote the role of Indy’s father with Connery in mind. But, he initially turned it down as he was only 12 years older than Harrison Ford. Eventually, he relented and was given licence to alter the character and make some changes to the script. Although he was helped with the script by legendary playwright Tom Stoppard, who did such a good job he earned a $1m bonus.
His chemistry with Ford was widely praised, and he won a Golden Globe for his performance. In fact, they had such strong chemistry, neither of them wore trousers while the entire Zeppelin sequence was filmed.
The Last Crusade was the most lucrative of the original Indiana Jones trilogy, bringing in over $1 billion (at 2020 rates). Given its financial and critical success, as well as the aforementioned chemistry, it’s a shame we never got to see Sir Sean reprise the role. But maybe that’s a good thing. The Jones’s were searching for The Holy Grail in this film, and with only one glorious instalment of Henry and Indiana together, perhaps this is a cinematic equivalent.
Sean Connery’s battles with film studios to get what he felt was suitable recompense for his talent were legendary. Given the money his films earned, you could easily argue his stance was completely justified. No matter what the critical response to some of his movies, he was still a guaranteed box office draw. That rarefied status is befitting a true cinematic superstar.
It’s worth noting that all his ‘other’ Top 10 films were released after he last played James Bond in 1983’s Never Say Never Again.
So, if anyone says that he’ll only be remembered as 007 tell them, in the style of the man himself delivering his immortal line, that they’re wrong…plain wrong.
Thank you for reading our article about the most successful Sean Connery box office movies excluding James Bond 007. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our who could be the next James Bond article HERE.
Read IMDB information on Sean Connery HERE.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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