And The Award for Biggest Movie Explosion Goes To...
Spectre, the latest James Bond film, has a long history of thrilling spy exploits to live up to. Regardless of how it does at the box office, the latest 007 chapter helmed by director Sam Mendes has made its mark in history by producing what Guinness World Records deems the “largest film stunt explosion” of all time. During a climactic scene, Bond and his love interest du jour silently watch a stunning show of smoke and flame as their enemies’ headquarters blows up in the distance; in real life, the film crew cheered.
Pulling off an explosion of such scale was a measurably impressive task, as evidenced by the stockpiles of explosives gathered in the Moroccan desert: 2224 gallons of kerosene were lit by 73 pounds of explosives contained in 24 individual charges, each equipped with its own remote-controlled micro-computer. The Spectre team had one chance to get it right, and Mendes was justifiably proud when they did: “All one shot. Come up the stairs, some dialogue, largest explosion in the history of movies, exit frame, cut.”
Once the charges were detonated, the explosion lasted a total 7.5 seconds. Bond himself—or rather, actor Daniel Craig—flew to Beijing to receive the award, along with co-star Léa Seydoux and Spectre producer Barbara Broccoli. The trio graciously accepted the Guinness World Record plaque on behalf of Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould, the Academy Award winner who masterminded the enormous explosion.
007 is no stranger to setting records. In fact, the 24 Eon Productions films considered true Bond adaptations have racked up so many notable achievements that Guinness has compiled a list of the franchise’s 50 greatest broken records to date. A chase scene in Live and Let Die (1973) includes what was then the world’s longest recorded speedboat jump in a film: 120 feet. The record for most cannon rolls in a car was accomplished on the set of Casino Royale in 2006, when a custom-equipped Aston Martin achieved seven consecutive flips in the air with stuntman Adam Kirley at the wheel. 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me inspired, decades later, the 2008 unveiling of the world’s first fully submersible sports car: the Rinspeed sQuba, able to drive on land and as deep as 33 feet underwater—so long as the driver is properly equipped with an oxygen tank, of course.
The records aren’t all cars, speed, and adrenaline, though. The Bond films can boast an association with a few less dangerous awards, not least of which is the world record for most expensive pizza sold at auction: the “Pizza Royale 007,” created for the 2007 premiere of Casino Royale. Inspired by author Ian Fleming’s expensive (and boozy) tastes, the opulent pie was topped with lobster marinated in cognac, caviar scented with champagne, steak marinated in scotch, vodka-infused salmon, white truffles, and edible gold leaf for a tasteful final touch. An Italian lawyer put up the equivalent of $3,321 for charity to buy it. Fleming’s highbrow preferences are also responsible for another Guinness record, for most expensive typewriter. The author’s custom gold-plated Royal Quiet Deluxe model was sold for £56,250 ($90,309) in 1995. Not quite a 7.5-second explosion, but pretty flashy in its own way.