Price of access to 007?

James Bond fandom is different than others. How so? Well, one can make a living off being a fan because of 007’s longevity. But there’s a price.

The other day we wrote a post about how Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli came down hard on commentary tracks produced for early 1990s laser discs for the first three James Bond movies, Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. We got a lot of reponses. The consensus was it was understandable why Eon would crack down but those commentaries provided some honest statements from some of the most important creators of the early 007 films.

That got us to thinking. If you’re going to create videos, or books or articles about the cinema world of James Bond, you have to make a choice: do you seek access to Eon Productions, the makers of 007 films? Or do you go it alone, a possibly risky path?

Some of the featurettes on DVDs of the 007 films are made in cooperation with Eon (hence credits such as, “Very Special Thanks to Dana Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson”). These featurettes are entertaining and well done. But they also are sanitized. For Licence to Kill, we’re told the 1989 film failed “to find a breakout American audience.” Translation: the film bombed in the U.S. (an $8.77 million opening weekend in the U.S. and a total $34.7 million U.S. million box office) while doing better in other markets.

Another part of the 007 film mythology is how actors are put up at five-star hotels during filming. That’s true as far as it goes. But we’re also reminded of how Maud Adams, at a fan outing in the early 2000s said that was great because “they don’t really pay you that much.” That’s not part of officially approved narrative.

Others soldiered on despite the lack of cooperation from Eon: John Brosnan wrote “James Bond In the Cinema,” published in 1972 and later updated. Steven Jay Rubin wrote “The James Bond Films,” first published in 1981, with an update in 1983 (we have both). Rubin, in particular, was one of the first to disclose details of the sometimes-rocky relationship with Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the other co-founder of Eon. Both Brosnan and Rubin wrote with affection about 007 but neither was an extnesion of Eon’s public relations machine. Both Brosnan and Rubin commented on what they viewed as weaker entries in the film series.

Meanwhile, over the years, other “professional fans” have developed business relationships with Eon. You do what you have to do what you have to do. At the same time, there is a price to be paid. You lose part of your independence. For some, that’s an easy decision. For others, well, you have to think about it.

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