Some editorial pissing and moaning

Much as been discussed, amongst James Bond fans, about the current news covering the financial implosion of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, as the once-great studio slides into ignominious dissolution. This article at Deadline Hollywood can bring you up to speed on all the details. Suffice it to say that the future of the James Bond film series looks a little dicey right now.

Most Bond fans, while not necessarily shrugging it off, point to the six-year delay (due to Danjaq’s lawsuit against MGM/UA,) between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye as evidence that the series has “survived” similar problems in the past.
MGM logo

Survived” being the operative word…

The difference between then and now is that, back in 1989, the series was running on inertia if not actually beginning to wind down. The success of The Living Daylights notwithstanding, Timothy Dalton wasn’t the big hit with audiences the studio was expecting, and Licence to Kill, capping off an uneven decade of John Glen cookie-cutter entries, sputtered at the box office during the summer of Batman. Nevertheless, there was in the background a continuing, palpable desire on the audience’s part to see Pierce Brosnan take up the role of James Bond. That unextinguished flame helped light the way for the triumphal return of the series with 1995’s GoldenEye. That was then.

Now we have a “rebooted” series, telling a (new) story of the 007’s career from the beginning, starring one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed actors in the role in history. Chapters 1 and 2 have been enormously successful, and worldwide interest in James Bond hasn’t been this high in decades. But, despite all that momentum, the producers got “tired,” distracted with other projects, and otherwise futzed around with planning the next film — so now there’s nothing in the pipeline when the studio goes kerflooey.

Here’s the situation I think the James Bond movies are in: the production company, which owns half of the property, is ambivalent about its commitment to the property. The bankrupt studio, which owns the other half, isn’t going to let one of its few remaining assets get away while fighting for its survival. So… nobody else can make a James Bond movie, and the people who can can’t afford it, and maybe aren’t all that interested in going to all that work anyhow. It’s probably going to take years for things to sort out, after which 1. Their popular leading man will, almost certainly, be gone — and with no heir apparent in sight; and 2. Audience interest will have found other things to glom on to.

Sorry to be pessimistic, but I think this is a serious setback for the James Bond movie series — a setback which it’s going to have to, once again, “survive.” How many lives does this cinematic cat have? It survived On Her Majesty’s Secret Service‘s box office drubbing because Sean Connery came back for one more; it survived Connery permanently leaving due to the popularity Roger Moore brought with him; it survived The Man with the Golden Gun‘s failure because EON (and newly-sole proprietor Cubby Broccoli) went balls-to-the-wall making The Spy Who Loved Me; it survived Licence to Kill because people still wanted to see Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

It’s been 47 years and 22 screen adventures for our favorite “gentleman secret agent with a license to kill.” But how many bullets can James Bond dodge? Will he finally succumb to inertia, or will he suffer the death of a thousand cuts, inflicted by the ones who can truly kill him — the lawyers and the MBAs and the accountants?

— Paul Baack
Copublisher

5 Responses

  1. Eon Productions (if that is the production company you are alluding to) are not “ambivalent about its commitment” to anything – especially the future of James Bond 007.

  2. Thanks to your comment, Max. Actually, I hope you’re correct — but have you read any of the recent comments by Michael G. Wilson about how “tired” he is?

  3. […] Bond going to 20th Century Fox Posted on October 6, 2009 by The HMSS Editors With all the uncertainty about MGM and what’s happening with Bond 23, we have a report about James Bond reportedly finding a new movie studio […]

  4. […] of this raises uncertainty for the future of the Bond franchise as our co-publisher Paul Baack wrote in a Sept. 30 commentary. Eon Productions may produce the films, but it relies on its studio partners for […]

  5. […] And to read the Dec. 20 Commander Bond story, just CLICK HERE. Finally, here’s a commentary by our co-publisher Paul Baack back in September about how MGM’s financial troubles are complicating the future of the 007 franchise. […]

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