Skyfall 007 – A Curious Case of Blue Ocean Strategy Innovation

‘Skyfall’ became the highest grossing film of all time at UK box office with earning nearly £103m. Global earnings of the 23rd Bond movie crossed $1.1Bn. This makes it the first film in the Bond franchise to reach that total and the highest-grossing film in Sony Pictures history. It is the 14th film to gross over $1Bn.

Traditionally, Bond movies have their own flavor of opening scene of gun barrel sequence, out of box gadgets, girls, glamour, interesting locations and of course suits, martinis and ruthless villains. If you have watched Skyfall, you will agree that it’s very different from other Bond movies.

How director Sam Mendes and writers, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & John Logan consciously curved out a niche for this bond film that makes it stand out differently from others and yet amassed a box office fortune has been decoded here using ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ perspective. Clearly, this film is a successful case of innovation using Blue OceN Strategy in creative businesses for us to learn from.

Blue Ocean Strategy is an approach for organizations to create new demand in an uncontested market space called “Blue Ocean”, rather than compete head-to-head with others in an existing industry. So it is an approach to innovate in the market.

Strategy Canvas is one of the simplest and yet most powerful tools of Blue Ocean Strategy to visually identify the factors that any given industry is competing on, where competitors stand and how a Blue Ocean Strategy/Innovation can be carved out of it.

I have considered created the Strategy Canvas of Skyfall and compared it with other bond movies.

The factors that are unique to bond movies and something that audiences generally expect from any bond movie have been listed in the X-axis under value factors. Each of them has been rated in a 10 point scale against known standards. For example, I would compare the value factor ‘Action’ of Bond movies with action in other movies and give it a rating. After completing the strategic canvas for Bond Movies, I repeated this exercise for Skyfall, in particular.

Skyfall A curious Case of Blue Ocean Strategy Innovation

By comparing the strategic canvas, it is evident that Skyfall is very different in many aspects from other Bond movies.

In order to characterize the difference or uniqueness of Skyfall from other Bond movies, Blue Ocean Strategy prescribes 4 Actions Framework, aka ERRC. It is an acronym for Eliminate, Reduce, Raise and Create.

The 4 Actions Framework can be used to answer the following questions which in turn will help in creation of a Blue Ocean (in this case, Skyfall)

  • What factors of other Bond Movies can be Eliminated?
  • What factors of other Bond Movies can be Reduced/
  • What factors of other Bond Movies can be Raised or Elevated?
  • What factors of other Bond Movies can be Created or Added?

Why is Skyfall an innovation?

Use of ultra hi-tech Gadgets and unique gun barrel opening sequence, both of which are common to Bond movies have been eliminated all together. In Skyfall, hardly any ultra hi-tech gadgets are employed while the gun barrel sequence has been pushed to the last.


Glamour, girls and action, three things that comes to our mind about Bond movies have been carefully compromised in Skyfall. While, there is a big risk in reducing these factors, as there is likely loss of identify, it has also made Skyfall stand out. The director and writers have carefully tread this path.

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Storyline, soulful Bond character, grounded script and movie running time have been raised or elevated. Bond is always portrayed as a charismatic and shrewd super spy. But Skyfall portrays his early life, love for his parents, and relationship with mother like M in this film. It is noteworthy that Skyfall has a longest running time of all Bond movies with 146 mins. Most Bond movies average to 120 mins with few exceptions.


Bond never shows emotions(other than love). He means business. But Skyfall centered on Bond’s personal life, the emotions he went through as a child and what his childhood and his mean to him. Thus by infusing emotions in the Bond character, has created an unique factor!

Unlike Avatar or Titanic which have over $2Bn of box-office earnings, a Skyfall does carry a baggage of being a Bond movie. Audiences have per-conceived expectations from Bond movies. That way, Skyfall is a curious case of successful innovation in creative businesses. Super imposing the Blue Ocean Strategy and its framework is only an attempt to learn how innovations can become predictable rather than a chance of luck or brilliance of genius!

About the Author

Nilakantasrinivasan aka Neil helps a range of large enterprises in services and manufacturing, with particular emphasis on organization and functional strategy using Blue Ocean Strategy and Hoshin Kanri. He can be contacted at

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