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.

Two questions to pass the time

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The dog days of summer have arrived, so here are a couple of questions to pass the time until actual news pops up later.

Will Ian Fleming get some kind of credit if the U.N.C.L.E. movie gets made?

Ian Fleming’s contributions to the final version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. aren’t that many, but he did co-create the character of Napoleon Solo with producer Norman Felton. Still, the movie is to be made at Warner Bros., which often doesn’t give out credits unless it’s contractually obligated.

For example, since 1989, Warners has made seven Batman movies. Each carries a credit that Batman was created by Bob Kane. But it’s pretty much established that writer Bill Finger contributed at least as much, if not more (changing Batman’s mask to a cowl, the Bruce Wayne secret identity and the Bruce Wayne back story, among other things) to the Batman mythos.

Nor does Warners credit artists and writers who created other characters or stories that figure into the films. One semi-exception was how artist Jerry Robinson, the creator of the Joker, got a consultant credit in 2008′s The Dark Knight (it doesn’t appear until about two hours and 31 minutes into the movie). The 2011 Green Lantern movie didn’t credit John Broome or Gil Kane, who in 1959 that version of the character. The ’59 version, in turn, was based on a different character with similar powers created in 1940 by Bill Finger (him again) and artist Martin Nodell.

On the other hand, citing Ian Fleming might be an interesting talking point for marketing, even though Fleming wasn’t mentioned in the original show. But Fleming’s heirs don’t have a financial incentive because Fleming, under pressure from Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, signed away all his U.N.C.L.E. rights in June 1963.

The odds would appear to be against a Fleming credit in an U.N.C.L.E. film. In 1983, The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie had credits for Norman Felton (“based on the series originally presented by”) and Sam Rolfe (“based upon the series developed by”), the latter who created most of the show’s format.

Will Disney/Marvel blink and move Ant-Man’s 2015 release date? Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel unit were the first to claim the Nov. 6, 2015 release date in the U.S. for Ant Man, the first Marvel film to come out after The Avengers sequel in May 2015. Earlier this month, however, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures said Bond 24 would make its U.S. debut on that date, two weeks after it comes out in the U.K.

Disney doesn’t normally back down but Ant Man isn’t the most famous Marvel character with the general public by a long shot. Does Marvel really want Ant Man to go head-to-head with James Bond? You have to wonder if Disney and Marvel will have second thoughts.

Daily Mail says Nolan `approached’ about Bond 24

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall scoops proven correct, is reporting that Christopher Nolan has been “APPROACHED” ABOUT DIRECTING BOND 24.

Here’s an excerpt:

Christopher Nolan has been approached to direct the next 007 movie.

It’s early days, but informal talks have begun between Nolan, his representatives and the powers behind the James Bond pictures, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G .Wilson.

The story is less that definitive. There’s a later line that says, “But as one of my Bond experts commented: ‘It does no harm for Broccoli and Wilson to talk with Nolan, even if nothing happens this time round.’” Still, Skyfall director Sam Mendes commented how his 007 film was inspired by Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight and there are similarities between the two films.

You can CLICK HERE to see Bamigboye scoops that were proven correct, including that Naomie Harris’s character turned out to be Moneypenny.

IF Bamigboye is correct this time, it’s possibly another sign Bond 24 is more likely for 2015 than 2014. Nolan, director of three Batman films from 2005 to 2012, is committed TO DIRECT A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE IN NOVEMBER 2014.

We’ll see if anything happens of all this. To read the entire Daily Mail story, CLICK HERE.

YESTERDAY’S POST: More signs Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

How Christopher Nolan’s new film affects Bond 24

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan, director of the 2005-2012 Batman trilogy of films, is directing a new science fiction movie that has a Nov. 7, 2014 release date ACCORDING TO A PRESS RELEASE.

Interstellar will be co-produced by co-released by Warner Bros. and Paramount. The development may also affect Bond 24. For one thing, this appears to kill any chance that Nolan would direct Bond 24 after Sam Mendes turned down the project. That will disappoint some fans who’d like to view Nolan’s take on 007.

The earliest Bond 24 might come out is late 2014 and Nolan’s time is spoken for that kind of timetable. Even if Bond 24 ends up with a 2015 release date, would Nolan want to turn around from one major project to start working on another? Or would the director want to recharge his batteries?

The latter seems more likely. Nolan’s movies are often complex affairs with lots of special effects. His last three movies as a director (The Dark Knight, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) were done at two-year intervals.

Meanwhile, Interstellar’s release date might affect Bond 24 IF the Bond film comes out in 2014. Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer probably would want some space between Interstellar and Bond 24 on the release calendar. Studios generally don’t want their “tent pole” films (blockbusters in non-studio executive speak) coming out on top of one another.

It’s not a sure bet that Bond 24 will come out in 2014, of course. But Interstellar would be part of the chess game that studios play if Bond 24 gets a ’14 release date.

You can CLICK HERE to view a January story in the Hollywood Reporter about how Nolan was in talks to direct the movie.

The Dark Knight-Skyfall double feature

Skyfall's inspiration

Skyfall’s inspiration

Before home video, James Bond fans enjoyed double features of re-released 007 movies.

In 2013, thanks to said home video, you can create your own double and triple features. One appropriate double bill is 2008′s The Dark Knight and 2012′s Skyfall, which is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in the U.S.

First of all, Skyfall director Sam Mendes has said The Dark Knight was an inspiration in Skyfall’s development and he spoke admirably about director Christopher Nolan’s work on the 2008 film. Watching the two films back to back, Mendes certainly wasn’t kidding. While the two movies aren’t clones of each other, there are certainly a number of similarities:

The Dark Knight: The Joker has a complicated plan that relies on him being captured.

Skyfall: Villain Silva has a complicated plan that relies on him being captured.

The Dark Knight: A Hong Kong sequence has a darkly photographed action sequence in the foreground contrasted with bright exterior lights in the background as Batman (Christain Bale) captures a Chinese businessman-criminal who is laundering money for Gotham City’s mobs.

Skyfall: A Shanghai sequence has a darkly photographed action sequence in the foreground contrasted with bright exterior lights in the background as Bond (Daniel Craig) fights with an assassin.

The Dark Knight: The score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is often dark and foreboding, matching much of the mood of the film.

Skyfall: The score by Thomas Newman is often dark and foreboding, matching much of the mood of the film.

The Joker, err, Silva, attacks Skyfall manor

Silva attacks Wayne Skyfall Manor Lodge


The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent, transformed by the Joker into Two Face, considers committing suicide.

Skyfall: Silva considers committee suicide. In his case, he wants M (Judi Dench) to pull the trigger so they both die.

The Dark Knight: The Joker at times has a tenuous, at best, hold on reality.

Skyfall: Silva at times has a tenuous, at best, hold on reality.

The Dark Knight: Two Face has a facial deformity.

Skyfall: Silva has a facial deformity, though his is disguised most of the time.

It should be noted that Nolan evokes an early Bond movie in his 2008 movie. In the aforementioned Hong Kong action scene, Batman makes his escape with his prisoner by being reeled into a plane, similar to the way Bond and Domino were hoisted into an aircraft at the end of 1965′s Thunderball. Nolan even reworks the idea in 2012′s The Dark Knight Rises, except villain Bane is reeled into a plane after abducting a scientist.

The 007-Dick Tracy-Batman mashup

dicktracy

James Bond fans often discuss how Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories compare with literature or comment about the 007 movies (in particular the 2006-2012 movies) shape up as cinema.

There’s often little commentary about how they compare to pulp stories or to comic strips such as Dick Tracy or comic books such as Batman

In fact, 007 shares many of the same elements as Tracy (who made his debut in 1931) and Batman (whose first appearance was in 1939).

All three characters encounter larger-than-life villains: Flattop, Mumbles, Pruneface and many others for Tracy; Goldfinger, Dr. No, Ernst Stavro Blofeld for Bond; and the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face and the Catwoman for Batman. All three characters dabble in science fiction: two-way wrist radios/televisions/computers/space coupes for Tracy; high-tech Batmobiles, Bat-computers and other devices for Batman; various gadgets (especially in films) and tricked-out cars for Bond.

The comparisons between 007 and Batman have been out in force this year after Skyfall director Sam Mendes said Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy influenced Skyfall. The Tracy comparison doesn’t get talked about as much for obvious reasons. There hasn’t been a Tracy movie since 1990, when Warren Beatty directed and starred in a Tracy film.

Still, Tracy, created by Chester Gould (1900-1985), had many of the same elements of 007 and Batman and was out earlier. Tracy doesn’t get much attention these days but if you CLICK HERE you can catch up on his newest exploits.

The main difference among the characters: Tracy married Tess Trueheart on Christmas Day 1949 and raised a family.

Skyfall sets 007 record for U.S. opening

UPDATE (Nov. 12): The revised final figure for Skyfall’s opening weekend is North America is $88.4 million according to a story at BLOOMBERG.COM.

ORIGINAL POST: Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, sold $87.8 million in tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, breaking the previous 007 record of $67.5 million for 2008′s Quantum of Solace.

Daniel Craig in Skyfall scores a 007 U.S. box office record.


Here’s an excerpt of a story at BLOOMBERG.COM

“Skyfall,” the latest James Bond film and the third starring Daniel Craig, led the U.S. and Canadian box office with a franchise-record $87.8 million in ticket sales for Sony Corp. (6758) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
(snip)

“They’ve done an amazing job keeping the brand strong and relevant,” Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com in New York, said in a telephone interview. “It’s the oldest brand out there in the movie industry so the fact that 50 years later they’re doing record business shows that they’ve handled the property very well.”

Pandya expects the installment to gross more than $900 million globally in theaters.

For some perspective, Skyfall’s U.S. opening was higher than some recent popular comic book-based movies, including Captain America ($65 million), and Thor ($65.7 million), both released in 2011. If Skyfall can secure $900 million in worldwide ticket sales, that would get it close to the likes of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, each of which generated $1 billion in ticket sales. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, has said The Dark Knight helped influence Skyfall.

Meanwhile, the Box Office Mojo Web site estimates that Skyfall has total worldwide ticket sales to date of $518.6 million, including $428.6 million outside the U.S. and Canada.

Skyfall’s U.S. box office: how high is up?

UPDATE (Nov. 8): The Los Angeles Times in a story you read BY CLICKING HERE people who’ve seen pre-release audience surveys as estimating Skyfall’s opening weekend in the U.S. will generate at least $75 million in ticket sales. A Sony spokesman (who isn’t identified) says the studio’s estimate is $65 million to $70 million.

ORIGINAL NOV. 5 POST: Skyfall is almost halfway to being the top-grossing James Bond movie unadjusted for inflation. The question now is how high can the movie go in the U.S. market, where it opens this week.

Daniel Craig in a Skyfall publicity sill


The 23rd James Bond movie recorded $287 million in international ticket sales through Oct. 4 and $289 million in updated figures as of Oct. 5 on Box Office Mojo. It’s projected that Skyfall will also hit a U.S. record, again unadjusted for inflation. The highest U.S. sales for the 007 series was Quantum of Solace’s $168.4 million mark, which included a $67.5 million opening weekend. Casino Royale is 2006 is the top-grossing film in the series at $596.4 million.

Here’s a list of four estimates we’ve come across for Skyfall:

BOXOFFICE.COM: $230 million total U.S.; $85 million opening weekend

Exhibitors Relations, cited in THE WRAP entertainment news Web site: $230 million total U.S., more than $70 million opening weekend.

DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEW WEB SITE: $215 million total U.S., described as a “guesstimate.”

BOX OFFICE MOJO: $185 million total U.S.

Skyfall is the only major movie debuting in wide release this weekend in the U.S. (A Steven Spielberg-directed biography of Abraham Lincoln will be in limited release before its general release on Nov. 16.) Also, on Nov. 16, another movie opens that could take a lot of the U.S. box office oxygen, as described by The Wrap:

(Skyfall’s) first week in the U.S. will be crucial, as the following weekend will see the debut of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.” Summit’s finale of the “Twilight” series has topped the pre-sales charts since tickets became available online more than a month ago, and it is projected to open in the $150 million range.

While the foreign bows weren’t intentionally set up to boost the U.S. release, Sony knew they could help. “The idea was to build worldwide momentum out of the U.K. and Western Europe,” Sony spokesman Steve Elzer told TheWrap. “We employed a similar pattern on ‘Quantum of Solace.’”

In 2008, Quantum of Solace’s ticket sales fell 60 percent because of the debut of the first Twilight movie. Sony refers to the Sony Pictures unit of Sony Corp., which is releasing Skyfall and co-financed it with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Meanwhile, many Bond fans would like to see Skyfall crash beyond the $600 million worldwide ticket sale mark and reach $1 billion. That would put the movie in the conversation as all-time 007 champ even adjusted for inflation (Thunderball is the No. 1 film on an inflation-adjusted basis). It would also put it in the same box-office class as movies such as The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

Mendes says The Dark Knight inspired Skyfall

“Why so serious, 007?”

It turns out comparisons between Skyfall, the new 007 movie, and Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies were on target. Skyfall director Sam Mendes says The Dark Knight, the second of Nolan’s trilogy of Bat movies, was an inspiration for the 23rd James Bond film.

The director is quoted by THE PLAYLIST:

Just as “Casino Royale” reinvigorated the Bond series, Christopher Nolan did the same with his ‘Dark Knight’ series and when asked, Mendes says he was “directly inspired” by what those films achieved.

“In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody,” he explained about how it influenced his approach.

“We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle,” he continued. “And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world.”

Comparisons between Skyfall and The Dark Knight began earlier this year when Skyfall’s teaser trailer came out. There was a silhouette of Javier Bardem’s villain Silva that resembled Heath Ledger’s Joker from 2008′s The Dark Knight. Ledger ended up winning a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor.

The comparisons have continued, with a number of early reviews commenting on similarities between the Mendes-directed Skyfall and Nolan-helmed Batman movies. Nolan, meanwhile, is an acknowledged James Bond fan and his 2010 film Inception included an homage to 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Now, it appears, Mendes may have done an homage — at least in spirit — the other way to Nolan’s dark take on Batman, which concluded with this year’s The Dark Knight Rises.

To read the entire story by The Playlist, CLICK HERE.

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