007 questions about Bond 23 oddities

For a movie that’s two months, or less, away from filming, there have been a number of odd things related to Bond 23, the James Bond movie due out in November 2012 in the U.S. Here’s a partial list:

001. Why hire a writer who doesn’t like James Bond to write a James Bond movie? In 007 fandom, this keeps getting swept under the rug, but on the surface it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hire a writer who has contempt for 007. Yet, Eon Productions did just that in 2009 when it hired Peter Morgan to do Bond 23’s screenplay *and put out a press release before he ever submitted a draft of a script*

Morgan, the writer of Frost/Nixon, said after he exited Bond 23 that “I’m not sure it’s possible to do it …I just personally struggle to believe a British secret agent is still saving the world.” OK, it’s easy to figure out why Morgan sought the Bond 23 gig. A paycheck is a paycheck. What’s more puzzling is why Eon Productions boss people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli hired him in the first place. Unless, of course, they sought “prestige” from Morgan’s resume, even if he had contempt for the 007 character, which is Eon’s primary asset.

002. So why don’t fans ever metnion the Morgan hiring and how weird it was? Partially, they want to put the past behind them. Still, it’s worth remembering how on some message boards, fans were all gung-ho about the Morgan news, with comments tht he was a quality writer and a great choice.

003. Why are Bond 23 cast and crew announcements have been handled they way they’ve been? Good question. Eon put out one very short press release early this year. It said the U.S. release date would be in November 2012, that Daniel Craig would be the star, that Sam Mendes would be the director and that Neal Puris, Robert Wade and John Logan would be the screenwriters (the earlier Morgan announcement evidently having been forgotten).

Judi Dench returning as M? No mention. She’s made her own announcements in press interviews. Roger Deakins as director of photography? He put that out on his Web site.

004. What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s hard to tell whether all the self-announcements are legitmate. For example, Tariq Anwar told The Telegraph of Calcutta, India, that he’d be editing Bond 23, after being sought by director Mendes. Except, now there are reports (or rumors) that Stuart Baird has the editor’s job. Confusing? You bet. But when you lose control of the message, as Eon has evidently done, these things happen.

005. Do you want the face of the 007 franchise casually dropping f-bombs in interviews? Here’s star Daniel Craig discussing Bond 23 in an interview with Esquire:

“No-no-no, Sam’s gonna do it, Sam Mendes, and I’m really fucking really lookin’ forward to the fact that he’s gonna do it,” he says, snapping to. Mendes directed him in the gloomy thriller Road to Perdition in 2002. Craig tricks out a little smirk then. A concession, a comfort maybe.

“This has become my way, it’s as simple as that,” he says. “I mean, since I’ve just become James Bond. And I think, you know, that means being something that people feel they own. And all of the sudden I’m getting magazine covers, when I got nothing for ten years before that. I say it’s just pure luck. And doing covers, people interviewing me, and they want to know everything and I’m going, I’m not gonna fucking tell you!”

Ian Fleming, rather famously, initially disapproved of Sean Connery because he thought the Scot lacked Bond’s style. The 007 author later warmied to Connery. Still, one wonders what would Fleming think of the actor playing his creation dropping f-bombs in interviews.

To be fair, Craig doesn’t reserve f-bombs for his Bond movies. Also from the Esquire interview:

Listen to him speak on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: “It’s as adult as you can possibly make it. This is adult drama. I grew up, as we fucking all did, watching The Godfather and that, movies that were made for adults. And this is a $100 million R-rated movie. Nobody makes those anymore. And Fincher, he’s not holding back. They’ve given him free rein. He showed me some scenes recently, and my hand was over my mouth, going, Are you fucking serious?”

(snip)

“We shot (Tintin) in mo-cap. Which is like: Fuck me, I’m literally in a leotard with a fucking helmet on, and a camera strapped to it. It’s Steven Spielberg, so every fucker in the world comes to visit. Fincher comes to visit. Clint fucking Eastwood comes to visit. It was just like, are you kidding me? I’m gonna meet these people dressed like this? Playing a pirate, wearing a leotard and a camera? Really?”

006. What’s the alternative? Studios begin to market other major movies long before they actually come out. The marketing starts out slowly, with little bits of information and gradually builds up. There are already teaser posters in movie theaters for 2012’s The Avengers, a film Marvel Studios has been building up to since Iron Man was release in 2008. Bond movies are still being marketed as if they’re the biggest thing in cinema, something that, truth be told, hasn’t been true since 1965. It might be time for Eon to update its marketing plans. At the very least, it might want to take back control of the marketing of Bond 23.

007. Isn’t it a little early to get worried? We’re not worried. We’d just like to see Bond being marketed in a more proactive manner. So far, most of the information about the film has been dispersed haphazardly. Or as Daniel Craig might say, “f***ing haphazardly.”

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6 Responses

  1. Interesting questions, but the Craig interview was in Esquire, which seeks out “manly” type scenarios (some people would be taken aback at Connery on the Esquire cover with several women in 1965 or 1966 for Thunderball.)
    Also, I’d have to say, that while some Bonds seem less important than others, they are pretty big around the world, marketing wise, especially the ones that intro a new Bond – i.e. Live and Let Die, The Living Daylights, GoldenEye and Casino Royale (I left On Her Majesty’s Secret Service off that list because the producers flubbed its marketing and their heirs have admitted as much).

  2. 001: If he was the only writer it might matter, but that is not how scripts for action movies are done now. Maybe he was brought in for his plots or his dialog or just to try something from a POV Bond people have not tried before.

    002: Who knows? Maybe because the script for 23 has been written and rewritten so many times by other writers.

    003: I doubt this will have any effect on the movie we see on the screen. Nor do I see any risk that 23 will be under-hyped the closer to the actual release date.

    004: If the MGM and Eon has not killed Bond by now, “losing control” of the message won’t do it.

    005: Daniel Craig is not James Bond. He is a popular actor appearing in some of the biggest films of the year of which only one is Bond. The f-word is accepted in much of society, especially the young males Eon is desperate to sell Bond tickets.

    006: The alternative is to take a deep breath and relax. Time to worry will be if there are major production delays and problems getting 23 to the screen. We are lucky the movie is getting made.

    007: I know what you mean. After all if you can’t write about your concerns for Bond then what is the point of HMSS Weblog. I enjoy your POV which is why I read the blog.

  3. 001: What makes you think Peter Morgan doesn’t like James Bond? Watch these videos again:

    Second video, 0:17 -> He doesn’t sound like he has contempt for 007 AT ALL. Quite the contrary.

    002: Fans do not mention how weird the the Morgan hiring was because… it wasn’t weird at all. I can only repeat myself: watch those videos again, he is cleary someone who likes Bond.

    003: Why would EON need to announce who the cinematograher of the movie is? Have you ever seen an announcement regarding the director of photography of a movie? As for the actors: there is no need to announce them before filming starts.

    004: “What’s wrong with that?” Nothing.

    005: Daniel Craig does not have to behave like James Bond in real life. The 007 franchise is not a franchise for toddlers, the face of the franchise can drop f-bombs whenever he wants.

    006: It’s not necessary to start promoting a movie more than a year befor the release date. Fox began to market Avatar 4-5 months before it was released and it turned out to be the highest grossing movie of all time. And it wans’t even part of a well-recognized franchise.

    EON usually helds a press conference when the filming of a Bond movie starts. That is more than enough so early in the production.

    007: Again: filming hasn’t even started yet. Since when does a studio need to promote a film which is still in pre-production?

  4. The next James Bond? http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/09/28/140870300/idris-elba-the-man-who-is-luther-was-stringer-and-could-be-james-bond

  5. I’m going to go out on a limb here with the recent rumors of Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem as the villains. If Eon continues to pull characters and material from Fleming’s novels, could it be that both Fiennes and Bardem may be playing the parts of Seraffimo Spang and his twin brother Jack from the novel Diamonds Are Forever?

    A simple update would make them the heads of Quantum.

  6. I don’t think fans brush the Morgan hiring under the rug; it’s probably just not discussed much because nothing ended up coming from it. Which is a pity, in my opinion. I think Morgan is a great writer and probably could have written a great Bond movie (even if he, in hindsight, doesn’t seem to think so). I’m not convinced that he “doesn’t like James Bond” to begin with, but, really, even if he doesn’t, I don’t see why he couldn’t still write a good Bond movie. Roald Dahl reportedly didn’t like James Bond and accepted the YOLT assignment as a paycheck gig, but he wrote a great James Bond movie for its time. What matters more than being a Bond fan is that Morgan is a fantastic screenwriter, and I would have been very interested to see his take on the character. Shame it didn’t come to pass.

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