Will Sam Mendes get a `vanity credit’ for Skyfall?

On Nov. 3, Skyfall director Sam Mendes said, “Every decision is mine,” regarding the creative choices for the 23rd James Bond film. We were skeptical because Eon Productions isn’t known for granting directors complete autonomy. But this week’s news that Mendes was responsible for bringing in Thomas Newman as Skyfall’s composer, bumping David Arnold, is an indicator Mendes does have that kind of clout.

That got us to thinking about another question: will Mendes be the first director to get a “vanity credit” in an Eon-produced 007 film?

A vanity credit is essentially a way for a director to get his or her name in the titles twice: the normal “directed by” credit, plus another indicating it’s his or her film. A NAME HERE Film. A Film by NAME HERE. Sometimes they get more creative such as A Spike Lee Joint. Vanity credits have been around for decades, but since at least the 1960s have grown pretty common. The Writers Guild of America dislikes them strongly because, in the view of the union, vanity credits create “the false impression that the director is solely responsible for the film, this credit denigrates the contribution of writers and all others who contributed to the picture.”

One exception has been Eon’s 007 series, started in 1962. On the first 17 films, there was a vanity credit of either “Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman present” (first billing varying according to market) or “Albert R. Broccoli presents.” You could argue that for two of those films they weren’t vanity credits. Thunderball also had a Broccoli-Saltzman presents credit but they took no producer’s credit, yielding that to Kevin McClory. For GoldenEye, there was there was a Broccoli presents credit but, for health reasons, he had yielded the major producer duties to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. In any event, on an Eon film, directors had to get by with their “Directed by” credit and that was it.

Never Say Never Again, the 1983 Bond film not part of Eon’s series, had a vanity credit for director Irvin Kershner. Meanwhile, Eon series veterans Terence Young, Guy Hamilton and John Glen all got at least one vanity credit each on post-007 films.

Mendes got “A Sam Mendes Film” credit with his two most feature films, Revolutionary Road and Away We Go. He also came on board Skyfall with an Oscar for best director for 1999’s American Beauty on his resume. Given Mendes’s clout (five-time 007 composer Arnold said on Twitter that Newman was Mendes’s choice), maybe Eon adjusts its credits to say Skyfall is “A Sam Mendes Film.” We’ll find out, probably when the first teaser trailer goes public.

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