Moonraker 40th anniversary: Was Roger Moore’s James Bond in space a step too far for 007?

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Happy Days saw the Fonz jump the shark and Indiana Jones was nuked in a fridge, but was James Bond…in Space a step too far for the 007 franchise? Today marks the 40th anniversary of Moonraker, Roger Moore’s fourth James Bond movie and one that for some fans makes the invisible car in Die Another Day look feasible. So just why did they send Bond to space? Well, technically Star Wars is to blame.

Two years earlier one of the best-loved Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me, hit cinemas and ended with title text “James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only.”

Expect he didn’t. The box office success of Star Wars saw the 007 producers gamble on cosmic Bond instead.

Choosing the third Ian Fleming 007 novel Moonraker, the plot was overhauled to include a trip to outer space.

Certainly, Moore’s tenure as Bond is at the tongue-in-cheek end of the franchise, but was the bordering on self-parody too much for cinema-goers?

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Moonraker ending up costing $34 million, which was twice the budget of The Spy Who Loved Me.

Nevertheless, the sci-fi turn that banked Star Wars’ success proved right despite mixed reviews.

The film became the highest-grossing Bond movie with $210.3 million made worldwide before Goldeneye beat the record in 1995.

Bizarrely, despite the success, the Bond producers wanted to take 007 in the opposite direction when they finally made For Your Eyes Only two years later.

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For Your Eyes Only is a much more realistic Bond film and probably Moore’s most serious and gritty of all.

Incredibly, the sudden change was a huge financial success too, proving that 007 can take various forms even within one incarnation and audiences will still flock to him.

But with Craig’s era coming to an end in Bond 25, will we see the 007 franchise evolve away from his real-world spy to something more otherworldly in the next reboot?

One thing’s for sure; the producers can afford to take a risk knowing the fans will still come. After all, a Bond movie is a Bond movie.

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