Skyfall keeps No. 2 U.S. box office spot

UPDATE: The worldwide ticket sale figure in the last paragraph is updated from earlier on Nov. 25.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, held on to the No. 2 spot in U.S.-Canada movie ticket sales during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE.

Skyfall’s ticket sales will total an estimated $36 million for the Nov. 23-25 weekend, according to the site that tracks box office results of films. That’s second behind The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 at an estimated $43.07 million. Skyfall’s weekend ticket sales only declined 12 percent from last weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

Skyfall’s U.S. ticket sales, which established a record for the region last week, now total an estimated $221.7 million. The previous record was 2008′s Quantum of Solace at $169.4 million.

Box Office Mojo also estimates that Skyfall’s worldwide ticket sales, already a 007 record, now total $790.1 million.

1962: Hope and Crosby provide 007 a `Road’ map

Bob Hope, left, and Bing Crosby in the opening to The Road to Hong Kong

Five months before the debut of Dr. No, the final Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “Road” movie came out, The Road to Hong Kong. The film, we suspect by coincidence, provided a road map to the future of 007 movies.

The 1962 movie had some major departures from previous “Road” movies. It was produced in the U.K. and was released by United Artists. The earlier films in the series had been produced in Hollywood and released by Paramount. Dorothy Lamour, the female lead of the previous Road movies, makes a cameo as herself but Joan Collins is the main female lead.

The change in locale meant the Norman Panama-Melvin Frank production (both would write the script, Panama directed and Frank produced; the duo had written the 1946 Road to Utopia) would take advantage of U.K. movie talent: Syd Cain was one of the art directors. Maurice Binder designed the main titles. Walter Gotell is one of the main lieutenants of a mysterious organization — stop us if you’ve heard this before — trying to take over the world. Bob Simmons shows up late in the movie as an astronaut in the employ of the villainous organization.

What’s more, there are “animated” sets (designed by Roger Furse) at the villain’s lair that would do Ken Adam proud. Two future participants in the 1967 Casino Royale (Peter Sellers and David Niven) show up in cameos. Did we mention Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin making cameos at the end? Well, they do.

If you’ve never seen The Road to Hong Kong, you can CLICK HERE and watch the 91-minute film on YouTube (at least until it gets taken off that Web site). While a comedy, it is a preview of the more fantastic Bond movies that would emerge a few years later, starting with 1967′s You Only Live Twice.

Skyfall sets U.S. 007 box office record


Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, set the U.S.-Canada 007 box office this week, passing 2008′s Quantum of Solace on Tuesday, Nov. 20, according to THE BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE.

Skyfall hit $170.6 million in ticket sales for the region that day, surpassing Quantum’s $169.4 million. Skyfall’s U.S.-Canada ticket sales totaled about $178 million as of Nov. 21, according to Box Office Mojo.

The newest Bond film had set the 007 worldwide ticket sale record earlier. Global Skyfall ticket sales totaled almost $686 million as of Nov. 21. The previous worldwide 007 record had been held by Casino Royale at $596.4 million.

UPDATE: Skyfall is projected to remain at No. 2 in U.S. ticket sales for the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEB SITE.

Happy 80th birthday, Robert Vaughn

Happy birthday, Mr. Solo

For people of a certain age, it’s doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. Robert Vaughn, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., turns 80 on Nov. 22.

The 1964-68 spy series was just one stop on a long, and still continuing, career.

He’s the last surviving actor of those who portrayed the title characters in 1960′s The Magnificent Seven. He picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1959′s The Young Philadelphians, holding his own in a veteran cast. He was twice nominated for an Emmy in political-related drams and received one playing a thinly veiled version of H.R. Haldeman in the 1977 mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors. And he’s played more than his share of oily and/or villainous businessmen and/or politcians, thanks to 1968′s Bullitt.

Still, when he shows up at collectible shows, he’s more than often or not autographing stills of himself as Napoleon Solo, the television spy with a name courtesy of 007 creator Ian Fleming and developed by Sam Rolfe under the supervision of executive producer Norman Felton. For those who weren’t there during its run on NBC, U.N.C.L.E. really was a big deal.

The production values may look cheap compared to modern-day television. The series did all of its filming within about a 30-mile radius of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Culver City, California, studios. None of that matters. Vaughn established a U.S. beachhead for 1960s spy entertainment beginning in the fall of 1964. U.N.C.L.E. was pitched as “James Bond for television” but it successfully developed its own spin on the genre. Other fondly remembered shows followed, starting in the fall of 1965.

Vaughn had help, of course. His co-star, David McCallum, became popular in his own right. Early episodes were directed by the likes of Richard Donner and Joseph Sargent, who’d go on to direct feature films. Writers including Alan Caillou, Dean Hargrove and Peter Allan Fields spun tales that hold up today, despite the modest production budgets.

Still, it was up to Vaughn to sell everybody on all this. And sell it he did. Vaughn last played the character in the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But he remains tied to Solo. So happy birthday, Mr. Vaughn.

Purvis & Wade, an appreciation

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, 007 screenwriters in residence for 15 years, confirmed this week to Collider.com that THEY’RE DEPARTING THE 007 FRANCHISE. That ends a run of five films, tying them for second among credited screenwriters in the 23-film series produced by Eon Productions.

The writing duo stir mixed reactions among fans. The thing is, it’s difficult to exactly measure the contributions they made to their five Bond films. They shared the screenplay credit with other writers on four of their five films. Some of those other scribes (in particular, Paul Haggis on Casino Royale) won praise. Stories SUCH AS THIS ONE mentioned Haggis and his Oscars without mentioning Purvis and Wade who wrote the early drafts of the script. Meanwhile, late drafts referred to Haggis’ contributions as revisions of Purvis and Wade’s work.

It does appear Purvis and Wade worked hard to evoke Ian Fleming without always having a lot of Ian Fleming material to work with aside from Casino Royale. They managed to rework story elements from Moonraker that had been dropped while the 11th 007 movie was being developed for 2002′s Die Another Day. For Skyfall, they used parts of the You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun novels as a springboard for the story.

Writing a James Bond movie is undoubtedly a lot harder than it looks, something Paul Haggis found out when he returned to write a second 007 film, Quantum of Solace. Still, Eon kept bringing the duo back, even if they hired others to revamp their work.

We noted Purvis and Wade are tied for second among credited Eon-Bond screenwriters. The person they’re tied with is Michael G. Wilson, Eon’s co-boss who had a bit of inside track to co-write his five 007 movies from 1981 through 1989 given that Albert R. Broccoli was his stepfather. No. 1, of course, is Richard Maibaum, whose 13 Bond script credits between 1962 and 1989 aren’t likely to be surpassed.

Purvis and Wade can say they’re going out on a high. Skyfall, their finale, is now the No. 1 movie in 007 ticket sales unadjusted for inflation. John Logan, the latest scribe hired to revamp a Purvis-Wade script with Skyfall, has been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

You can CLICK HERE to view the Collider.com story on Purvis and Wade. You can CLICK HERE to read a 2002 interview HMSS’s Tom Zielinski had with the writers. You can CLICK HERE to view a 2007 interview HMSS had with Purvis and Wade.

Roger Moore interviewed by Jeff Westhoff

Northwest Herald film critic and HMSS friend Jeffrey Westhoff had the excellent opportunity to interview Roger Moore. The interview is on the Web site of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

An excerpt:

Speaking by phone from the St. Regis Hotel in New York (where Bond stayed in the novel “Live and Let Die”), Moore said the publisher of his autobiography, “My Word Is my Bond,” approached him about writing another book focusing on 007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary hoopla. “They thought it might be a good time to bring out a book about my opinion of Bond,” Moore said.

He writes his opinions in a tongue-in-cheek style that reflects his portrayal of Bond. Moore frequently refers to Bond as “Jim” or “Jimmy,” and he doesn’t worry if this will further infuriate Sean Connery purists who complain Moore never took the character seriously. “That’s the way I played it,” he said. “That was my reaction to the character I was expected to play. He wasn’t a real spy. The idea that he’s known by every barman in the world, that he has a taste for martinis shaken not stirred.”

(snip)
In the new book, Moore remarks that recent Bond theme songs have been forgettable. He said Adele’s “Skyfall” theme breaks that trend. “The song is absolutely marvelous. It has the complete John Barry flavor. Unmistakably a Bond song.”

Moore attended a private screening of the new film several weeks ago “when [the print] was literally still wet.” He was “absolutely knocked out by it.” He praised Sam Mendes’ direction and was impressed with the way “Skyfall” presents a new side to 007.

“Bond shows a lot of vulnerability in it, but also that he’s a hard nut,” Moore said. “And I don’t think anybody can do that better than Daniel Craig.”

You can read more of Westhoff’s interview by BY CLICKING HERE.  

Well done, sir.

Skyfall sets 007 record; slips to No. 2 behind vampires in U.S.

“Pesky vampires.”


UPDATE I: Skyfall is now the No. 1 movie in the James Bond series for worldwide ticket sales at $669 million, according to estimates by Sony Pictures listed at the BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE. The previous record was 2006′s Casino Royale at $596.4 million.

EARLIER: Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, slipped to No. 2 movie in the U.S. in its second weekend as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II, the final film in the young vampire series, sold $141.3 million in tickets, according to studio estimates at THE BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE.

Skyfall’s U.S. ticket sales for the weekend may total an estimated $41.5 million. The movie’s total for the region is an estimated $161.3 million. Quantum of Solace currently holds the U.S.-Canada 007 box office record at $169.4 million.

The $41.5 million Skyfall figure represents a 53 percent decline from the opening weekend. That’s in line with the usual dropoff (50 percent is normal). It’s also better than 2008 when Quantum’s U.S.-Canada ticket sales slid 60 percent in its second weekend, when the first Twilight movie debuted.

Skyfall should set the new 007 record this week, probably by mid-week. Box Office Mojo also has A DAILY BREAKDOWN OF SKYFALL TICKET SALES. The lowest day last week was $5.1 million on Thursday, Nov. 15. Also, based on that chart, it appears Skyfall ticket sales fell off more on Friday, Nov. 16 (the first day of the Twilight final movie) but recovered somewhat on Saturday.

Die Another Day’s 10th anniversary: an abrupt end

A decade ago this month, the 20th James Bond movie, Die Another Day premiered. In hindsight, what was going on behind the scenes was more interesting than the movie itself.

The film turned out to be actor Pierce Brosnan’s final turn as 007. The actor, in publicizing the movie, indicated that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli wanted him back for a fifth appearance. The co-bosses of Eon Productions, however, may have been undergoing a creative mid-life crisis.

In interviews years after Die Another Day came out, Wilson and Broccoli described the early 2000s as personally frustrating. “I was desperately afraid, and Barbara was desperately afraid, we would go downhill,” Wilson TOLD THE NEW YORK TIMES IN OCTOBER 2005. Apparently, the duo felt at this point they were still carrying the flame for Albert R. Broccoli, the co-founder of Eon. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves,” Wilson told the Times in ’05.

In any case, Die Another Day was the end not only of Brosnan’s run but of the series that had begun 40 years earlier. When Bond next appeared onscreen, in 2006′s Casino Royale, Eon would start over with an entirely different continuity and a new Bond, Daniel Craig.

Die Another Day contained numerous references to the 007 series, including a sequence where Brosnan-Bond and Q (John Cleese) are in a storage area of gadgets, including the Thunderball jet pack. Q gives Bond a watch with a laser beam (Bond’s 20th watch, we’re told). Halle Berry as Jinx, a U.S. operative, made an entrance in a bikini, modeled after Ursula Andress’s first appearance in Dr. No.

The movie also suffers from personality disorder. The first half is more or less serious (with bits of humor) and a de facto adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker novel. The second half veers into fantasy with an invisible car and Bond barely staying ahead of a tidal wave.

At the box office, Die Another Day was a hit, with almost $432 million in worldwide ticket sales, a 19 percent jump from 1999′s The World Is Not Enough. In the U.S. and Canada, the 20th 007 film sold $167.4 million in tickets, a 27 percent increase from the previous 007 entry. But that didn’t prevent the abrupt end of the Brosnan era.

Skyfall’s credit oddities

Bérénice (Lim) Marlohe, unable to solve the mystery of the different Skyfall poster and movie credits, has a sip of Jameson’s.

So, Skyfall has been out for a few weeks and is about to become the highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time. But there are a couple of oddities that nobody has explained and, to be honest, almost no fans are talking about.

What are those? The odd differences in credits between the movie poster for the 23rd James Bond movie and the main titles of the film itself.

Exhibit A: Actress Berenice Marlohe. Or is it actress Berenice Lim Marlohe?

On the poster and regular advertisements (such as the one on page C13 of the national edition of The New York Times on Nov. 16), she’s billed as Berenice Marlohe. But, in the main titles designed by Daniel Kleinman, she is listed as Berenice Lim Marlohe. During the publicity buildup to Skyfall, she was also listed as Berenice Marlohe. Most people didn’t know she had a middle name until they saw the movie.

Exhibit B: the different film editing credit between movie poster and movie.

On the poster, it’s “STUART BAIRD A.C.E.” (That’s American Cinema Editors to you civilians.) The movie? Something a bit different. It says “Editors” (plural) and lists Stuart Baird in BIG LETTERS with a second name, Kate Baird in small letters.

Kate Baird’s IMDB.com entry doesn’t list any specific relationship to 65-year-old Stuart Baird. Kate Baird was also as assistant editor on 2006′s Casino Royale, where Stuart Baird was the editor.

Meanwhile, this arrangement in the main titles seems to be something of a first for the Bond series. A number of 007 films has two or three credited film editors (Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun and Quantum of Solace among them). But with those 007 films, the name of the editors were all in the same size of type.

So, did Kate Baird do more work than an assistant editor (thus meriting a place in the main titles) but perform substantially less than Stuart Baird (thus accounting for her name being smaller)? While this is trivial, agents spends lots of time and effort negotiating these details concerning the credits of major movies.

One final note, that’s not an oddity but is worth mentioning. Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael G. Wilson, the 70-year-old co-boss of Eon Productions, got a promotion on Skyfall. The younger Wilson’s title on Quantum of Solace was assistant producer (his on-screen credit appeared with four other credits) while it was associate producer on Skyfall (sharing the screen with only one other name).

Presumably, this is an indication Gregg Wilson is positioning himself among the next generation of the Wilson-Broccoli clan for a bigger role in the future.

MGM may bend on Bond 24′s schedule

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signaled this week it may bend on the schedule for Bond 24, with the movie coming out in 2015, rather than 2014.

The studio held a conference call this week after releasing financial results. (You can listen to it, at least for now, by accessing a link at THE INVESTORS RELATION PART OF MGM’S WEB SITE.) Studio Chief Gary Barber was asked if Bond 24 would be out in 2014. MGM, as part of its 2010 bankruptcy, said it planned to get the 007 films back on an every-other-year schedule. Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures unit (which co-financed Skyfall and will do the same for Bond 24) has said it expects Bond 24 to be out in two years.

“We’re always hopeful on that,” the studio boss said. At the same time, he said, “We’ll put our best foot forward” on a script for the next 007 film. “If not in ’14, certainly in ’15,” he said of when Bond 24 will come out.

Earlier, in prepared remarks at the start of the call, Barber confirmed that John Logan, co-scripter of Skyfall, is working on the storyline for Bond 24 and Bond 25. He also said MGM expects Skyfall’s worldwide ticket ticket sales to exceed $800 million. They totaled $550 million earlier this week.

This is the first public show of flexibility by the studio, which controls half the Bond franchise with the Broccoli-Wilson family. Barbara Broccoli told the Los Angeles Times IN A STORY YOU CAN VIEW BY CLICKING HERE she was in no hurry. An excerpt:

“Sometimes there are external pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit, and sometimes we’ve given into that,” Broccoli said. “But following what we hope will be a tremendous success with ‘Skyfall,’ we have to try to keep the deadlines within our own time limits and not cave in to external pressures.” (emphasis added)

(snip)
Part of the reason why Broccoli and Wilson would wait before moving on to another Bond movie is because they’ve yet to settle on a future direction. “We like Daniel [Craig], obviously, and we like the way he portrays the Bond character,” Wilson said. “Our challenge is to find situations that will feel different and fresh and new and put Daniel and that character into those situations. It’s daunting.”

Neither Broccoli nor Wilson reference Logan working on the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25.

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