Will Sam Mendes get a `vanity credit’ for Skyfall?

On Nov. 3, Skyfall director Sam Mendes said, “Every decision is mine,” regarding the creative choices for the 23rd James Bond film. We were skeptical because Eon Productions isn’t known for granting directors complete autonomy. But this week’s news that Mendes was responsible for bringing in Thomas Newman as Skyfall’s composer, bumping David Arnold, is an indicator Mendes does have that kind of clout.

That got us to thinking about another question: will Mendes be the first director to get a “vanity credit” in an Eon-produced 007 film?

A vanity credit is essentially a way for a director to get his or her name in the titles twice: the normal “directed by” credit, plus another indicating it’s his or her film. A NAME HERE Film. A Film by NAME HERE. Sometimes they get more creative such as A Spike Lee Joint. Vanity credits have been around for decades, but since at least the 1960s have grown pretty common. The Writers Guild of America dislikes them strongly because, in the view of the union, vanity credits create “the false impression that the director is solely responsible for the film, this credit denigrates the contribution of writers and all others who contributed to the picture.”

One exception has been Eon’s 007 series, started in 1962. On the first 17 films, there was a vanity credit of either “Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman present” (first billing varying according to market) or “Albert R. Broccoli presents.” You could argue that for two of those films they weren’t vanity credits. Thunderball also had a Broccoli-Saltzman presents credit but they took no producer’s credit, yielding that to Kevin McClory. For GoldenEye, there was there was a Broccoli presents credit but, for health reasons, he had yielded the major producer duties to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. In any event, on an Eon film, directors had to get by with their “Directed by” credit and that was it.

Never Say Never Again, the 1983 Bond film not part of Eon’s series, had a vanity credit for director Irvin Kershner. Meanwhile, Eon series veterans Terence Young, Guy Hamilton and John Glen all got at least one vanity credit each on post-007 films.

Mendes got “A Sam Mendes Film” credit with his two most feature films, Revolutionary Road and Away We Go. He also came on board Skyfall with an Oscar for best director for 1999’s American Beauty on his resume. Given Mendes’s clout (five-time 007 composer Arnold said on Twitter that Newman was Mendes’s choice), maybe Eon adjusts its credits to say Skyfall is “A Sam Mendes Film.” We’ll find out, probably when the first teaser trailer goes public.

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15 Responses

  1. I don’t think he will, as the Bond films are Brand Eon.

    NSNA makes sense with Irvine Kershner, as his name was known thanks to The Empire Strikes Back just a few years before.

    And Terence Young, Guy Hamilton and John Glen were all known for the Bond films and so their vanity credits were probably trying to use that relationship to benefit their own films.

  2. I don’t think he’ll get a vanity credit but I would be very happy if he did. Another question: will the teaser and/or the trailer mention Sam Mendes at all? Something like “from Academy Award winner Sam Mendes” would be great.

  3. I was always proud that EON did not go for the vanity credit during its history. But I would guess that all bets are off with this one. They are becoming ordinary producers making ordinary movies.

  4. Wait Paul, so a movie like For Your Eyes Only, directed by a Second Unit Director is no ordinary movie but Skyfall, directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes is???

  5. Well. with having to sit through QOS, yes. :)

  6. Mendes may have brought Newman to score the movie, but that was only after Arnold had been asked to be the musical director for the London Olympics. It’s not really like Arnold was bumped just to put Newman in the composer seat.

  7. My thought is that he “James Bond Film” is losing its personality. I don’t think “savior” as “director”, though I would love nothing more than a wonderful Bond film. I am in the vast minority in that I do fell that they have thrown some of the baby out with the bathwater in their “re-invention” of what a Bond film is. I’m not right, BTW. It’s just what I feel.

  8. @Bob. Arnold was bumped. He said on his Twitter feed that getting the Olympics job had nothing to do with him not scoring Skyfall. Arnold said he’s known since June it was going to be that way, that it was Mendes’s choice.

  9. Sampling Arnold’s Tweets on Jan. 9:

    I’ve known since June….Sam and I talked about it and I said I am very much of the opinion that a director should have who they want

    DavidGArnold DavidGArnold
    And fully expected Tom to be doing the film.Couldnt tweet about it as contracts weren’t finalised until recently…but it’s all very good

    I agree.but I didn’t turn it down to do the Olympics….it’s Sams choice and I think the right choice for him.

  10. Forster brought MK12 and Frogley (Kleinman and Hemming got “booted”). Campbell brought Baird. Tamahori brought Tattersall.

    Did they get vanity credits?

    Eon gives their directors much freedom to do their job. Hence the reason Tomorrow Never Dies turned out the way it did.

  11. Well he wasn’t exactly going to come out and call them ****ers was he? He’s a fan at the core, so of course he wants to be back in the saddle for Bond 24. It’s also his career, profession and livlihood at the end of the day, keeping things nicey-nice is smart, regardless of how he really feels.

  12. ….and the only vanity credit on the film will be

    Albert R Broccoli’s EON Products
    Presents

  13. [...] version. The final version, obviously, will have them. We raised the question in January whether director Sam Mendes will get a “vanity credit,” which no previous director has gotten in the series produced by Eon Productions. We guess the odds [...]

  14. [...] to check out the credits. They’re pretty small, but they indicate that a question we posed back in January has been answered with a no. Director Sam Mendes doesn’t get a vanity credit (A Sam Mendes [...]

  15. […] the 23 007 movies through 2012′s Skyfall, Eon has avoided things such as a director’s “vanity’s credit,” a.k.a. “A Sam Mendes Film” or “A Film by Sam Mendes.” It remains to be seen […]

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