James Bond: 2012 caps a stellar year for spy franchise

First official shot released from "Skyfall" shows Daniel Craig as James Bond (. Francois Duhamel

The James Bond franchise will go out on top as 2012 comes to a close.

The British spy series, which saw its 23rd film hit theaters in November, had quite a year at the box office. "Skyfall" had thebiggest U.S. opening ever for a Bond film, raking in a franchise-record of $87.8 million in its first weekend in theaters.

The overseas figures were impressive, too. By the end of the year, "Skyfall" brought in $162.76 million in the U.K., topping "Avatar" and becoming Britain's top-grossing film of all time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. All together, "Skyfall has grossed more than $289 million domestically and $710 million overseas, making it the first Sony movie - and  the first Bond  film - ever to top $1 billion worldwide.

Starring Daniel Craig as 007, "Skyfall" reveals secrets from Bond's boss, British spymaster M (Judi Dench), and pits 007 against an ex-agent, played by Javier Bardem, who's seeking revenge. The film arrived just in time for the franchise's 50th anniversary. The British superspy flick first hit the big screen on Oct. 5, 1962, when "Dr. No" opened in theaters with Sean Connery in the lead role. Now six leading men later, the series is one of the longest-running in history.

To commemorate the anniversary, a new Blu-ray anniversary box set called "Bond 50," containing all 22 released James Bond films, surfaced in the fall. It was one of many James Bond-related events and releases this year. Over the summer, the London Olympic Games incorporated "Skyfall" into its opening ceremonies. With the use of film, Queen Elizabeth II and Craig appeared to parachute into the stadium. And in November, a new documentary, "Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of James Bond," premiered on TV.

Looking ahead to 2013, we'll likely see a lot more Bond. The film's theme song, written and performed by British songstress Adele, is in the running for a best original song Golden Globe award, and Oscar nomination buzz is already starting to heat up.

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