007-plus observations about the Skyfall news conference

The term “news conference” was phrased when Richard M. Nixon became president of the U.S. Until then, such gatherings were called press conferences. But, under the Nixon administration, “news conference” came into vogue. The idea was such events were for “news” to happen. By calling them “press conferences,” that implied the press had something to do with it. We were reminded of this while watching the Nov. 3 “news conference” for Skyfall. We watched this version:

001. For a news conference that lasted less than 30 minutes, reporters weren’t allowed to ask a single question until about 10:33 into the proceedings. There was a lot of gab, the official logo of Skyfall was unveiled. But no actual questions were permitted to be asked by reporters.

002. SKYFALL…007 Somebody actually got paid to design that logo? How much work was really involved in that design?

003. The principals had very little to actually say. Sam Mendes: “This is an odd press conference, as I said before…You won’t be surprised to hear me say, I can’t give much away…the movie will reveal everything. There’s lots of surprises, I will say that.” So why call a news/press conference in the first place then?

004. Star Daniel Craig has even less to say. Craig makes the startling obseration that his character in The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo is different than Bond. Really, Daniel? Well, at least he didn’t drop any f-bombs like he did in his recent Esquire interview.

005. This all seems kind of smarmy. Mendes, Craig and Dench tend to act as if they’re very superior to the scribes asking questions. Then again, given some of the lame questions being asked, perhaps that’s to be expected.

006. “All the money’s going to go on the screen.” That’s Barbara Broccoli at the 14:29 mark. Really? The fact that MGM has been in bankruptcy and Sony Corp., parent company of Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures, has been reporting losses won’t have *any* effect? Remember, MGM and Sony, not Eon, will actually finance the movie. Does that mean Skyfall has a $230 million or so budget like Quantum of Solace? Or is merely convenient to repeat an often-quoted Albert R. Broccoli remark without providing any actual details? Meanwhile at the 14:45 mark, Michael G. Wilson says, “Everything is as it was in the last two films.” Well, Casino Royale had a budget anywhere from $100 million to $150 million while Quantum of Solace had a $230 million budget. That’s quite a bit of difference.

UPDATE (1/2/12): We admittedly missed a line from Wilson around the 14:05 mark where he said the budget would be “in the same range as the last film.” He didn’t specify a figure.

007. Some of the reporters haven’t done much research. At the 14:50 mark, a reporter asks if Skyfall relates to any existing Ian Fleming story. It doesn’t. If you had done a Google search, you’d have known that.

008. Bond with a capital B. At the 16:00 mark or so, Craig says, “It was my intention to do the best Bond movie we could, Bond with a capital ‘B.'” And what does that mean, exactly? Craig doesn’t explain and nobody follows up.

009. “Every decision is mine,” Mendes says. At least that’s what he says at the 19:13 mark. Really? Are Wilson and Broccoli on board with that?

0010. Nobody asks what Skyfall means until about the 23:35 mark. The MC of the press/news conference mocks the reporters for waiting that long to ask. (“Doesn’t say much for the press corps.”) Barbara Broccoli says, “It has some, uh, emotional context, which will be revealed in the film.” Whatever that means.

0011. Daniel Craig butts in on a question asked of Sam Mendes and Barbara Broccoli. The director and co-producer were asked what they did to ensure Skyfall would be made despite financial problems at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half of the Bond film franchise. “They made it happen, basically.” And did Michael G. Wilson have anything to do about it? The reporter isn’t allowed to ask a follow-up question.

0012. Wilson says the 007 team is doubling down. “With Casino Royale, we started down a path, and we’re sticking with that path.”

0013. Wilson and Broccoli are asked if they’re not revealing character names because they’d be recognized by Bond fans. Sam Mendes butts in. “That’s a very well-put question.” It’s such a good questiond that Mendes doesn’t offer an actual answer. Then again, this is the same chap who claimed that reports he was in talks to direct the Bond movie were merely “speculation” *after* his publicist confirmed he was.

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6 Responses

  1. Mainly agree, although observation 007 (Some of the reporters haven’t done much research) doesn’t necessarily hold true for the reporter you mention.

    Despite being an original title, the film could have be based on a Fleming story, so it was a fair question to ask.

    Think of the history of the films; Moonraker was used as a title and takes the villain’s name from Fleming’s book, but little or nothing of the plot. Years later the plot is updated, made more sci-fi and used in Die Another Day. While there isn’t much Fleming left to use, the plot of You Only Live Twice has never been used.

    Do I think it’s going to happen? No. But I think you were a bit harsh 😉

  2. You seem to expect a lot of hard news from what, in spite of its billing as a “new conference,” is actually just a publicity event for the start of shooting on a commercial entertainment movie. I didn’t expect much more information than we got and am not upset that they refused to provide spoilers or talk about internal business matters. $80 million extra sure as hell didn’t make Quantum of Solace a better film than Casino Royale. We will see in a year what ends up on the screen and its cost has never proven a very reliable predictor of its quality.

  3. […] the November Skyfall press conference, the principals said the new movie had no connections to an Ian Fleming stories (That occurs around […]

  4. […] can go from saying in November that “With Casino Royale, we started down a path, and we’re sticking with that path.” yet six weeks later state that with Skyfall, “The director Sam Mendes and Daniel are taking it […]

  5. […] on the November 2011 press conference for the start of Skyfall production, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, don’t really like […]

  6. […] Mendes officially was now the director. Over the next several months, the casting of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Berenice Marlohe leaked out, with Eon not confirming anything until a November 2011 press conference. […]

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