HMSS Weblog’s guide to Bond 24 ‘silly season’

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

The Bond 24 “silly season” is underway as reports begin to emerge about possible casting.

The term “silly season” isn’t entirely accurate. Often, at least during the months leading to Skyfall, the reports WERE USUALLY PROVEN TO BE CORRECT.

Still, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Read the actual story, not just the headline: The entertainment news website The Wrap ran A STORY saying that Chiwetel Ejiofor from the film 12 Years a Slave was the frontrunner to snare the role of Bond 24′s villain. The story was referenced in other entertainment site.

This got 007 fans going all over the Internet. But the story itself was less than definitive. An excerpt:

While Ejiofor does not have an official offer yet and is not in formal talks, he is being eyed for the coveted role and is widely presumed to be the frontrunner amongst the other actors under consideration.

Translation: He hasn’t been cast yet and the situation is still in flux.

That hasn’t stopped fans from debating whether the actor would be a good choice to play a new version of Blofeld.

The Wrap’s story doesn’t even come close to mentioning Blofeld. But, given that Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer finally secured the rights to the character once and for all from the Kevin McClory estate, what’s a little speculation among friends?

Put another way: read the story, don’t just read the headline and don’t make assumptions.

With Skyfall, almost all the major casting news was reported accurately before an official announcement: News of Skyfall casting Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and other actors was reported before the official press release in November 2011. Given that track record, it could happen again with Bond 24.

Don’t take denials from Eon at face value: Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q in Skyfall even though Whishaw’s agent said it was true. Sam Mendes denied he was in talks to direct Skyfall even though his publicist told other media outlets that was taking place. Barbara Broccoli denied that Skyfall co-writer John Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 24 days before MGM announced that Logan had, in fact, been hired.

The past doesn’t guarantee the future: This contradicts the first two points, admittedly. But, as fans read news accounts about possible Bond 24 casting and other news, they should take into account the source. Moreover, they should actually seek out the actual original source.

Often, websites will mention where the news came from. They may even provide a link to the original source. But fans should, at the very least, actually read the original source before getting overly excited. It may still be difficult to evaluate how accurate the report is. At the very least, check out where the news originated and how that source phrased the news.

Bond fandom in the 21st and 20th centuries

A sample of Roger Deakins' photography in Skyfall

A sample of Roger Deakins’ photography in Skyfall

Perhaps nothing illustrates how Bond fandom has evolved in the 21st century than all of the attention being paid to how Skyfall’s director of photography, Roger Deakins, has said he won’t return for Bond 24 because “I don’t know what else I could do with it, really.”

The news has discussed and analyzed on fan message boards (CLICK HERE for one example and CLICK HERE for another). Websites such as Ain’t It Cool News declared the development to be a “little bit of a bummer.”

Deakins was nominated for an Oscar for his Skyfall efforts and got a lot of praise. Skyfall director Sam Mendes said Deakins’ opening shot was so special, he just couldn’t put the gunbarrel logo at the start of the film. So, fans are wondering how his absence will affect Bond 24, which will start filming later this year.

In the early years of the film 007, a director of photography didn’t get that kind of attention. Eon Productions had a kind of “in-house” DOP in Ted Moore. It’s not like Moore was a hack. He got AN OSCAR for photographing 1966′s A Man For All Seasons.

Moore was behind the camera for the first four Bond films and did other jobs inbetween. For the fifth 007 film, director Lewis Gilbert sought Freddie Young, who he described as “one of the great artists in British cinema.” But the center of fan discussion was Ken Adam’s volcano set or Sean Connery’s impending departure as Bond.

In 1974, Eon subbed one Oscar-winning director of photography for another when Oswald Morris took over after Ted Moore fell ill. But again, it wasn’t a major top of fan conversation.

Flash forward to 2014. Nobody’s pushing the panic button, but certainly many fans are disappointed Deakins isn’t coming back. Perhaps this reflects greater artistic expectations in the fan base. Perhaps it’s also concern about not breaking up a winning team after Skyfall. Perhaps it’s a lack of much else to talk about regarding Bond 24.

Things change. The attention given Deakins is an indicator how the 007 fan world has changed.

The Bond 24 ‘hot stove league’

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

For those who follow baseball in the United States, there’s what’s known as the “hot stove league” — what happens during the off-season that will affect the following year’s games.

Right now, we’re in Bond 24′s “hot stove league” — filming won’t start until sometime this fall and the movie won’t be seen until fall 2015. As a result, people get excited about the smallest bit of information, even when it concerns A BOGUS TITLE.

Here’s how the Bond 24 “hot stove league” is shaping up on some key ingredients.

Bond 24′s title: The information will be available when Internet domain names get registered. In the case of Skyfall, the THE FUSIBLE WEBSITE sniffed out the domain registrations a month before the official announcement.

Casting: This is a little harder to pin down. With Skyfall, Naomie Harris’ casting was reported by the now-defunct News Of The World; Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney by the Daily Mail; Javier Bardem’s offer to be in the movie was reported by the Deadline entertainment news website and Bardem confirmed he’d been cast in an interview with ABC News; Ben Whishaw’s casting was disclosed by his agent, even though Eon Production denied it for months.

In other words, fans inclined to keep up with casting news should be on alert going forward.

Crew: Again, harder to pin down, but Skyfall’s history provides some guidance.

Roger Deakins confirmed in a 2011 post on his blog (later zapped) in spring 2011 that’d he be Skyfall’s director of photography. John Logan’s hiring as writer already was reported by the Daily Mail and Deadline in November 2012. It was initially denied by Eon Productions but confirmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer a few days later.

While Deakins isn’t returning for Bond 24, he said recently that Skyfall director Sam Mendes, who is returning for Bond 24, has a “great idea for another film, which is really an extension [of 'Skyfall'] but from my point, I don’t know what else I could do with it, really.”

If Skyfall is a guide, some of the crew appointments may get reported by mid- to late-spring.

Roger Deakins passes on photographing Bond 24

Roger Deakins, nominated for an Oscar for his photography for Skyfall, won’t return to the series for Bond 24, according to A FEB. 16 TWITTER POST BY WRITER KRISTOPHER TAPLEY.

At dinner with Deakins last night I learned some news that makes me sad: He won’t be shooting the next Bond.

Deakins signed on for Skyfall because of his work with director Sam Mendes. Mendes, after initially declining a return, has signed on to direct Bond 24, due out in the fall of 2015. John Logan, recruited to Skyfall by Mendes, is the sole writer (at least at this point) for Bond 24.

There aren’t many other details available, such as who will replace Deakins. You can CLICK HERE to read The Playlist’s take, HERE for Cinema Blend’s or HERE for Slash Film’s.

Happy 100th birthday, Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

Feb. 8 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book writer Bill Finger, who probably should be credited as the co-creator of Batman. Without him, a number of productions, including 2012′s Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, wouldn’t have been possible.

Artist Bob Kane had an idea, of a Bat-themed character. But it was Finger who, among other things, changed a plain mask to a cowl, devised the Bruce Wayne true identity, the Batman back story, the Robin back story, and….well, you get the idea. It was Finger who devised much of the Batman mythos.

Without Finger, there wouldn’t have been Batman serials in the 1940s, no Batman television series in the 1960s, no Batman movies in the 1980s, ’90s and 21st century — at least nothing remotely in the form that people know them.

Indirectly, the 007 film crew also owes Finger a debt. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, is on record as saying 2008′s The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, inspired elements of the 2012 007 film. That extends to Thomas Newman’s score, which in places sounds similar to the Batman music Hans Zimmer produced for Nolan.

Thus, without Bill Finger, there’d be no Nolan Batman movies and Skyfall wouldn’t be the same film fans remember today.

Finger, who died in 1974, less than a month before his 60th birthday, still doesn’t get officially credited as creating Batman. (Although there is a campaign to try to change that in time for Batman’s 75th anniversary.) But there’s little doubt Finger’s impact lasts long after his death.

Spy entertainment to watch in 2014

It’s only a few days before the near year. So it’s not too early to think about spy-related entertainment coming up in 2014.

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall


Bond 24 begins filming: The 24th 007 film produced by Eon Productions probably will go into production toward the end of the year to meet is October (U.K.)/November (U.S.) 2015 release date.

There’s not much hard information, other than Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Sam Mendes is again directing and John Logan is writing the script.

Ralph Fiennes, whose Mallory became the new M at the end of 2012′s Skyfall, TOLD REUTERS IN A DEC. 24 STORY that, “I know nothing, I’ve not been told anything, I have no information, no dates, no sense of the journey of my character at all! I don’t!”

If Bond 24 follows the same path as Skyfall, casting details will dribble out, though not be confirmed initially. With Skyfall, the casting of Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Javier Bardem were all reported long before the movie started principal photography in November 2011.

U.N.C.L.E. movie (probably) arrives in theaters: Director Guy Ritchie’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. wrapped production the first week of December. Warner Bros. hasn’t publicly announced a release date but there’s certainly enough post-production time for a fall 2014 release.

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)


The movie, starring Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, will be the first U.N.C.L.E. production since the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which reunited Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, the stars of the original 1964-68 television series.

The film will also be a test whether there’s a mass audience in the 21st century for U.N.C.L.E., a “utopian” spy concept in which agents from opposing sides in the Cold War could unite against common menaces. The movie will be set in the 1960s, the same as the original show.

Mission: Impossible 5 starts production: Tom Cruise is back for a fifth time as the star of a Mission: Impossible film, which will be released at Christmas 2015. Cruise had been slated to star in the U.N.C.L.E. movie as Solo but dropped out as M:I 5 (which his production company produces) developed. That move gave the opening for Cavill’s casting in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Cruise’s most recent M:I film, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, was a hit while while paying homages to the original 1966-73 television series, while the original 1996 movie turned Jim Phelps into a villain. Since then, Cruise has had his ups and downs. So he could use another financially successful M:I movie.

Golfinger’s 50th anniversary: 1964′s Goldfinger turned Bond into a worldwide phenomenon. Dr. No’s 50th anniversary got a lot of attention, in part because Skyfall was coming out. It’ll be interesting to see if Goldfinger’s golden anniversary draws attention.

Bond 24, according to Naomie Harris

Naomie Harris with her Skyfall co-stars in November 2011

Naomie Harris with her Skyfall co-stars in November 2011

As noted before, nature abhors a vacuum. So with little actual news about Bond 24, the next 007 film, recent comments by actress Naomie Harris have drawn a lot of attention. Afterall, she’s the only one associated with the movie who’s been talking much lately.

Harris has been promoting a movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In that film, she co-stars with Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela. But naturally, the subject of Bond 24 keeps coming up.

One of the most recent was in THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD. In that article, she said, “I haven’t seen a script.”

She then added: “Knowing Barbara [Broccoli, the producer], she’s all for women’s lib, isn’t she? She’s extraordinary; she’s completely reinvented the brand, yet kept so true to the essence of what people love about Bond. So I’m sure I won’t be just behind a desk. Or even if I’m behind the desk, there’ll be some twist.”

Earlier this month, she opened up on the subject in a TOTAL FILM INTERVIEW.

“I feel like Skyfall is one part of a continuing story,” the 37-year-old Brit says. “It needs completing and it needs the same storyteller.”

With Sam Mendes on board to direct Bond 24, it looks like Harris should get her wish.

(snip)
“I’m so relieved [about Mendes returning]. He chose me and had a vision for my character.

“I’d feel really weird working for someone who hadn’t chosen me and didn’t have that vision. I just want him to see it through.”

It’s not clear exactly she means by Skyfall elements that need completing. Skyfall’s villain, Silva, died while succeeding in killing Judi Dench’s M. Perhaps she means Skyfall’s ending (new M, new Moneypenny) provides a new springboard for Bond 24.

Or perhaps not. We’ll see.

Ant Man changes release date to avoid Bond 24

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

Marvel/Disney blinked.

Ant Man, one of Marvel’s oldest characters (but most obscure to the general public) will now make his movie debut on July 31, 2015, instead of Nov. 6 of that year, the same date Bond 24 is to be released in the U.S., according to a STORY in the Hollywood Reporter.

An excerpt:

With the November release date, the superhero pic would have gone up against the next Bond film, which will see the return of director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig. Mendes’ previous Bond film, Skyfall, was a box office behemoth, bringing in more than $1 billion worldwide. Fox’s untitled Peanuts movie also opens on that date.

The new July 2015 date only has one other film slated for release — Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars.

Marvel first published a story about scientist Henry Pym in Tales to Astonish No. 27 in 1961, when comic books still had a 10-cent cover price. At that point, the only Marvel super hero title was the Fantastic Four. Marvel brought back Pym as in Tales to Astonish No. 35 (now with a 12-cent cover price) when he became the super hero Ant Man.

The first Pym story and its sequel were illustrated by Jack Kirby, plotted by Stan Lee and scripted by Larry Lieber, Stan’s brother. Pym could shrink to the size of an ant but still retain the strength of a full-sized human. Pym later took on a number of super hero identities, including Giant Man, Goliath and Yellowjacket.

Marvel/Disney’s big super hero movie in 2015 will be The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012′s Marvel’s The Avengers. Ant Man will be the first Marvel film after that project. Ant Man also will be out just two weeks after a Superman-Batman movie with Henry Cavill (currently filming The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie) and Ben Affleck.

UPDATE (Sept. 10): The MI6 JAMES BOND FAN WEB SITE, quoting a press release, says the new Ant Man release date is July 10, 2015 (or just before the Superman-Batman movie). VARIETY says July 31 is for Ant Man while Disney has a fifth Pirates of the Carribean film slated for July 10. THE WRAP says July 15.

Earlier posts:

007′s Marvel superhero competitor in 2015

The family model (Eon) vs. the corporate model (Marvel)

NYT’s Maureen Dowd talks to Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Maureen Dowd, one of the star columnists of The New York Times, has AN ARTICLE in the newspaper where she talks to 007 star Daniel Craig.

Dowd’s piece covers a lot more than just Bond, including the play Betrayal, where he’ll appear with his wife Rachel Weisz. But Dowd’s piece does contain what’s emerging as one of the main talking points of Bond 24, due out in the fall of 2015. Mainly, that Bond 24 should lighten up compared with the actor’s first three 007 films. Here’s an excerpt:

Since the dazzling “Skyfall” — which earned $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Bond film ever and the most profitable movie in British history — Mr. Craig is enjoying the role more. He, the director Sam Mendes (an ex-boyfriend of Ms. Weisz’s) and one of the “Skyfall” screenwriters, John Logan, are all on board for the 24th Bond film, due out in the fall of 2015.

Mr. Craig hopes that, without returning to Pink Pantherville, they can start to instill a bit of the arch humor of Roger Moore, the first Bond he saw at the age of 7.

“We’ve got it all to play with, and we should play with it, and we should have some fun with it,” he said.

He draws a distinction between acting and modeling (though he concedes that he does both as Bond). “There’s a lot of modeling in films now,’ ” he said, adding wryly: “I do a movie where I have to turn around a lot. I want to kill myself sometimes, but sometimes you have to go, O.K., right, this is the moment when I have to turn around.”

Dowd primarily writes about politics, but often segues into entertainment. Her ENTRY IN WIKIPEDIA says, “Dowd, who perceives her columns to be an exploration of politics, Hollywood, and gender related topics, often uses popular culture to support and metaphorically enhance her political commentary.”

To read the entire story, titled, “The Vulnerable Mr. Bond,” CLICK HERE.

To read more about Maureen Dowd, check out, THE REDHEAD AND THE GRAY LADY, a profile in New York magazine published several years ago.

UPDATE: The New York Times Magazine’s Web site has a slide show called “The Bond Market.” You can view it by CLICKING HERE.

UPDATE II (Sept. 8): Maureen Dowd has a longer article about the stage production of Betryal titled TWO’S COMPANY, THREE’S A SHOW. Here’s an excerpt:

Will audiences be able to wrap their heads around James Bond as a cuckold?

“I hope they won’t be able to,” Mr. Craig says, appearing delighted at the thought. “I hope they’ll get unnerved by it.”

The 45-year-old Mr. Craig is notoriously private about his romance with the 43-year-old Ms. Weisz: They wouldn’t be interviewed as a pair; when I talk to them and their fellow Briton and co-star, Rafe Spall, they avoid sitting next to each other; when the photos are taken, Mr. Craig chafes at looking too lovey-dovey.

“Someone called us a power couple the other day,” he marvels. “I was like, what the” — he drops in an expletive — “does that mean? We just keep ourselves to ourselves.”

Bond 24′s Rorschach test

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

“Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony…and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.”

Daniel Craig AS QUOTED BY THE VULTURE BLOG of New York Magazine About Bond 24.

That’s not a lot of detail, but since that interview was posted Aug. 23, various publications and Web Sites have been interpreting it. Those interpretations vary a bit, somewhat like a 007 Rorschach test. Some examples:

Yahoo!: 007 TO CRACK WISE IN `SKYFALL’ SEQUEL.

The U.K. Telegraph: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO LIGHTEN UP BOND 24.

IGN: DANIEL CRAIG: BOND 24 WON’T BE CAMPY.

Entertainmentwise: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO SEE MORE DRY HUMOR IN BOND 24.

Dark Horizons: CRAIG WANTS IRONY, NOT CAMP, IN “BOND 24.”

Not much is known about 2014, scheduled for a fall 2015 release. Even some of what is known, such as the fact Skyfall co-scribe John Logan will pen the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25, was initially denied by one 007 partner (Eon Productions) before being confirmed by another (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Thus, any word about Bond 24 — especially coming directly from the movie’s star — is going to be analyzed.

Irony is defined as “the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.” Or: “a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”

But which “old irony” did Craig mean? It’s not detailed explicitly in the Vulture article. The quote about irony comes after a passage where it’s described how Skyfall was “lifted by a late ‘humor pass’ on the script.” The actor also says it was his idea to have Bond straighten his cuffs amid mayhem in Skyfall’s pre-credits sequence. It’s a Bondian moment, similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond straightening his tie in the middle of GoldenEye’s tank chase and The World Is Not Enough’s pre-credits sequence.

Presumably Craig’s irony comment wasn’t referring to the Roger Moore era (1973-1985), known for an expansion of humor relative to earlier 007 films. But even the Sean Connery era of the Eon movies (1962-67, 1971) had quips such as “She should have kept her mouth shut,” and “Shocking, positively shocking,” not necessarily the most subtle bits of humor. Connery’s non-Eon 007 film, Never Say Never Again, had a slapstick British diplomat, Nigel Small-Fawcett, and jokes about urine samples.

So perhaps Bond 24 will have a lighter tone. But there are other signs that humor may still be limited. John Logan was quoted in March by the Financial Times as saying words he “hopes to build on Skyfall in examining the complexities of Bond’s character.” We’ll see.

Earlier posts:
NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT BOND 24

AN EARLY BOND 24 ACCURACY CHECKLIST

MGM MAY BEND ON BOND 24′S SCHEDULE

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