Amazon acquires exclusive North American rights to publish all 14 Ian Fleming James Bond spy titles

The books will be available summer 2012 from Inc.’s AMZN Thomas & Mercer imprint, which specializes in mysteries and thrillers. Amazon will also give the books a new look.

Read the entire WSJ story here. It’s also mentioned on the Ian Fleming Publications WEB SITE.

How did the 007-Heineken deal become such a big deal?

The flap over Heineken’s product-placement deal with Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, isn’t going away. How’d that happen? After all, James Bond drank beer in some of Ian Fleming’s original stories. He had beer in some movies, as recently as 2008′s Quantum of Solace, the most recent 007 flick.

"James, was this beer deal such a good idea?"
"Pass me a Heineken, Felix!"

With 20-20 hindsight, it’s not that surprising. Here’s what led to the situation:

The financial conditions of two studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns half the 007 franchise, recently was in bankruptcy court, emerging as a smaller company. It ended up cutting a deal with Sony Corp. to distribute Skyfall (and the next 007 film). But Sony has financial problems of its own. That meant:

Skyfall was going to rely heavily on product placement: The Sunday Times of London reported 11 month ago that MGM and Sony were looking to product placement deals to supply as much as one-third of Skyfall’s budget (this link shows the version of the Sunday Times story that appeared in The Australian). Months later, Skyfall star Daniel Craig tactily admitted that product placement was vital to Skyfall.

As a result, the media and some fans were on red alert: Bond movies had been criticized before for what seemed like excessive product placement. Some fans noted how 1979′s Moonraker included plenty of plugs for Marlboro cigarettes, British Airways and 7-Up. The 2006 Casino Royale movie, Craig’s debut as Bond, was noted for how it shoehorned a reference for Omega watches into a key scene with Craig’s Bond and Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who had done a film on product placement, included 007 films in his critique.

The initial announcement of Heineken’s Skyfall deal wasn’t handled well: Heineken’s Feb. 8 press release announcing the product-placement deal had a lot of chest-thumping by both the company and Eon Productions, which produces the 007 movies:

Alexis Nasard, Chief Commercial Officer of HEINEKEN said: “When two great brands like Heineken® and James Bond join together, excitement is guaranteed. We are proud of our long standing partnership. The trust that we have built has allowed us to take the partnership to a new level by linking SKYFALL directly with our award winning global ‘Open Your World’ campaign. We are confident our activation plan will ignite the conversation with our consumers and film viewers.”

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the SKYFALL producers added: “The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.”

Of course, Heineken and Eon could have mentioned that 007 had consumed beer in Ian Fleming’s novels and Eon’s movies. Evidently, they were so busy discussing how wonderful they were, that fact just couldn’t be squeezed into the press release. Make no mistake, when a press release quotes an executive, those quotes are approved by the executive ahead of time. This wasn’t an oversight. This is the message Heineken and Eon wanted to get across. Translation of said message: “We’re wonderful, you’re lucky to have us.”

Timing is everything: In this case, the timing was bad. Yes, Bond drank more than just martinis on the page and on the screen. (In Live And Let Die, director Guy Hamilton and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz made a point of having first-time 007 Roger Moore drink bourbon to avoid comparisons with Sean Connery.) But Bond was, for better or worse, identified with martinis in movies.

In addition, the Casino Royale reboot shook things up. The movie turned the traditional Bond formula on its head as we watched a thuggish Bond learn to be a gentleman. They could have chose to shown how a gentleman learned to become tough (this is not an original observation on our part) but the filmmakers didn’t take that approach. During Casino Royale’s marketing, we were told, the film shows “how James became Bond.” We were told by the end of the movie, the James Bond we all knew would emerge. Then, in 2008′s Quantum of Solace, we were told that James wasn’t Bond just yet. Hence, the gunbarrel scene, again, wasn’t at the start of the movie.

As a result, in the last six years, Bond fans have processed at lot of change. The Heineken deal meant yet more change and that’s been the theme of much of the coverage since the deal was first announced. Maud Adams, who appeared in two 007 films, said “this has gone too far. Martini was something elegant when I served Roger Moore and it is elegant to this day.”

Some fans say this was all planned by Heineken to get publicity. We doubt it. Most companies don’t like publicity where people dump on you. This probably will blow over. Then again, we first thought this would have blown over by now.

UPDATE: According to A YAHOO! MOVIES POST blog post, Michael G. Wilson told reporters in Mexico (he was speaking from the U.K.) that: “Bond would sup Heineken in the film, but added that he would drink Vodka Martinis as well.”

007 Magazine publishes another issue

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine has another issue out, this one dealing with artwork for marketing James Bond, including poster art for 007 double features.

For more information, just CLICK HERE. The price is 9.99 British pounds, $15.99 or 11.99 euros.

Sam Mendes once doubted casting Daniel Craig as 007?

We were about to take a sabbatical of a few days after reading a lot (probably too much) of the Skyfall publicity blitz. But on a Brazilian Web site, Bol Noticias, which you can view in its original form BY CLICKING HERE, it says Skyfall director Sam Mendes originally felt Daniel Craig wouldn’t be right to play James Bond.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes

Here are samples of the text after running it through Google Translate (caveat emptor):

The hiring of Daniel Craig to take the suit of James Bond has never been a consensus among the fans. Among them, the director of new film “007 – Skyfall”, the third of Craig as the British spy.

“I was one of those people who did not think it right for the role,” confessed Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”), which revealed the actor in the United States with his “Road to Perdition (2002).” Maybe I had not chosen Daniel to be Bond, but he proved me wrong. Watching him go through the process and assume the character was amazing. “

Mendes and Craig did a collective online direct from Pinewood Studios in England to the press. Earlier, the teaser trailer was shown for the first time. Revealed by the scenes, “007 – Skyfall” James Bond will have a thirst for revenge for a series of attacks on British soil, culminating in the murder of several colleagues.

Now, this is the first of the many stories (reported over the past couple of weeks and released April 16 when an embargo set by Eon Productions lifted) that mentioned details of the teaser trailer:

The trailer begins with the agent himself being interrogated under the eyes of the official M (Judi Dench) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). When asked about the mission “Skyfall,” he answered only: “It’s done.” Then scenes of explosions in London, falling buildings in Shanghai and a funeral.

“The film has some darker moments, but there are a variety of colors, the beautiful bondgirls and some references of mythology that we are bringing the series back to,” said Mendes. “007 is not a real world. So he’s not Bond and Bourne.”

By now our head hurts, but a few observations:

No Bourne influences? It was a different story when studio executives requesting anonymity told The New York Times in 2005 that “the model was Jason Bourne.”

At the end of the story, Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson say Bond will still drink martinis while also consuming Heineken beer. Running the story through Google Translate makes it difficult to say who said exactly what, but all three commented to some extent:

“He also will drink vodka martini in the movie, he said producer Barbara Broccoli. “We care first to write the best possible movie. Then just incorporate what we think appropriate,” the producer Michael G. Wilson.

The first quote appears to be Craig based on the context of the story (via Google Translate). Broccoli appears to chime in the “best possible movie line” with Wilson getting in the last word.

UPDATE: A Yahoo! Movies blog post, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE says there was a press event in Mexico, where reporters got these quotes via a hookup to the U.K. where the principals (Craig et. al.) spoke.

Daniel Craig’s 007 economics 101

By this point, most James Bond fans are tired about reading about the Heineken product-placement deal with Skyfall and, based on recent remarks, it appears Daniel Craig is, too. But the Skyfall star may have provided a small lesson on the economics of James Bond movies.

Daniel Craig: teacher of 007 movie economics for a day

Craig, as part of a publicity blitz, spoke to the U.K. edition of the Huffington Post and the U.S. Moviefone Web site (both are part of AOL and carried the same story). In THAT INTERVIEW the Skyfall star said the following:

“We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie. The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is…This movie costs a lot of money to make, it costs as nearly as much again if not more to promote, so we go where we can. (emphasis added)

That’s not a lot of detail and others in the movie business have said similar things for a long time. However, it’s more detail than the makers of 007 movies get into. Usually they say it costs a lot and let it go at that.

So let’s take a look at how this rough calculation applied to the most recent Bond film, 2008′s Quantum of Solace. That movie had a reported budget of $230 million. To keep the math easy, let’s double that figure to add in the promotional costs. That gets you to $460 million.

Quantum’s woroldwide box office was just shy of $592 million, the second-best ever gross for the 50-year series. Now, that’s in unadjusted dollars. Then again, studios don’t deal in adjusted dollars; they deal with box office in the hear and now. Anyway, sounds like Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer must have done OK, after all that’s more than $130 million than the combined production-promotional cost.

Except, the studios didn’t keep all that $592 million. Theaters got a cut; typically, that’s tiny at the start and becomes more the longer a movie plays. Also, while the details aren’t public, the studios had to split whatever profits there were with Eon Productions, which controls half the 007 franchise and actually produces the films.

We don’t pretend to know the final figures, but the profit, if any, may have been relatively small for Sony and MGM. Last month, MGM disclosed it lost money on The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, also starring Craig, which had a $100 million production budget (and presumably similar sized outlay for promtion) with a worldwide box office of $231 million. Like both Quantum of Skyfall, that was a joint Sony/MGM deal.

Looking ahead to Skyfall, Eon co-bosses Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in November there had been no budget cuts for Skyfall. If Skyfall’s budget matches the reported $230 million budget of Skyfall, that would also be a combined $460 million production and promotional cost. Skyfall would need to at least match Quantum’s box office for it not to be viewed as a disappointment.

Thus, product-placement deals — and the Bond series is hardly a stranger to them — are a way to hedge bets. That’s especially true for Skyfall, where Sony is having financial troubles and MGM emerged from bankruptcy not that long ago.

Fans may think James Bond will go on forever and that product-placement deals are a nuisance. And yes, there are other sources of revenue (though falling prices for DVDs are eating into that). Still, Daniel Craig lifted the veil just a tiny bit on a more complicated financial picture.

Skyfall: some elements confirmed, some not

On April 16, a number of entertainment Web sites put out stories generated during a Skyfall press tour last week. The resulting articles confirmed some things that have been reported about the 23rd James Bond while not confirming, at least for now, others. Here’s a quick look.

Skyfall's producer and star aren't confirming everything

Confirmed: character names for Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney

A story ON THE COMINGSOON.NET WEB SITE had the following:

We know that Dame Judi Dench’s M is a lot more involved in this one and even goes out with 007 into the field, while Ralph Fiennes plays M’s government overseer Mallory and Albert Finney plays someone named Kincade.

A list of Skyfall characters surfaced last month when call sheets and related materials surfaced after they had been sold on eBay (call sheet information was previously disclosed on the James Bond Brasil and 007 Collector Web sites).

Fans pretty much put together that Fiennes was Mallory and Finney was Kincade. Meanwhile, earlier stories from the set of Skyfall had confirmed information on the call sheets that Javier Bardem’s villain character was named Silva.

Not confirmed (yet): Ben Whishaw plays the new Q (or reasonable equivalent)

Whishaw’s casting as the new Q was reported in November by the BBC, which cited the actor’s agent. When the call sheet information surfaced last month, there was a character listed only as B, perhaps short for Boothroyd, the “real” name of the Q character played from 1963 to 1999 by Desmond Llewelyn.

At this point, the Skyfall isn’t confirming while not exactly denying it. ComingSoon ran a separate INTERVIEW with star Daniel Craig and producer Barbara Broccoli. There was this exchange:

Q: Is it true that we’ll see you and Moneypenny back? We know about Q, that was announced by his agent.
Broccoli: Nothing’s been announced.
Craig: Agents are liars. You know that. (Laughter)

The quote that “Nothing’s been announced,” is meaningless. Things are official once a contract has been signed. The announcement is one of the last things to occur. Meahwhile, Craig’s laughing seems like a “wink, wink” moment. Plus, based on the call sheet information (none of which has proven to be wrong while much of it has been shown to be correct), confirmation appears to be only a formality. But, for now, this falls under the unconfirmed category.

At the same time, a story ON THE HITFIX WEB SITE made this observation about the movie in general:

And yes movie fans, if you wonder why Hollywood lifers tell you to ignore publicist denials, now you know. “Skyfall” was secretly being worked on and Mendes was always expected to direct (something EON and MGM denied for months).

Telegraph describes a Skyfall scene being filmed (SPOILER)

No spoiler in the post itself but we link to one.

From the Telegraph: "'There is a swimming pool scene ...any opportunity to get him to take his clothes off,' producer Barbara Broccoli says."

The Telegraph newspaper in Australia has an APRIL 15 STORY that, besides featuring interviews with Skyfall cast members, opens with a five-paragraph anecdote describing a key scene being filmed.

It includes a quick exchange of lines between Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Javier Bardem’s villain Silva. Click on the above link if you want to read it. It’s related to the video that was shown in the recent ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT STORY story about the film.

There’s also this tidbit from the story about the Sam Mendes-directed movie:

Taking a more serious tone, Craig says though there would be plenty of action in the film, it would also take its audience on an emotional journey. So what could the cast and crew reveal? Well, it is in fact Bond who strips, again. “There is a swimming pool scene …any opportunity to get him to take his clothes off,” producer Barbara Broccoli says.

Also, here’s a tip of the cap to the BOND AND BEYOND MESSAGE BOARD where we first saw this.

UPDATE: On April 13, MTV had ANOTHER STORY ON ITS WEB SITE that based on its recent interview with Craig. Here’s an excerpt that basically confirms Judi Dench’s M will have more 007 screen time than previously:

Going off on an adventure together.

Craig said Bond’s relationship with M is “a very important part of the film.” “There’s also the very important relationship he has with the bad guy in the movie [Silva, played by Javier Bardem]. We got Javier to come and do that, which gives the film a richer content, but his relationship with M, they are very close and they basically go on an adventure together, she gets out in the field. Judi, she’ll tell you she usually films most of her stuff in the studio like this while we are all off in some wonderful location and she gets to come with us this time.” (emphasis added)

Barbara Broccoli draws a line in the sand

In the past 10 days, Eon Productions has lifted the veil a bit on Skyfall, with various press interviews. In one of them, Barbara Broccoli, the co-boss of Eon Productions, drew a line in the sand: Skyfall would be the best, or one of the best, entries in the 23-film Eon-produced series.

Barbara Broccoli, daughter of Cubby Broccoli and co-boss of Eon Productrions

She made the comment to the Yahoo! Movies blog. Here’s the quote:

“We all want this to be the best Bond ever,” declares Broccoli. “And I think it’s going to be; I really feel that.” (emphasis added)

Better than Goldfinger, the 1964 007 film that turned the series into a phenomenon? Evidently. Better than Thunderball, which was the highest-grossing 007 film on an inflation-adjusted basis? There’s little doubt in that quote. Better than On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, arguably the 007 film most faithful to its Ian Fleming source material? You saw the quote and the answer would appear to be yes.

Now, some of you may say, “Hey, that’s just P.R.” Perhaps. Still, we tend to take people at their word — at least until there’s evidence to the contrary.

Also, part of this blog is devoted to revisiting what people have said in the past and whether it measures up to later facts. That’s why we remind our readers of statements by Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli’s half brother and the other co-boss of Eon, in posts LIKE THIS ONE or LIKE THIS ONE or THIS ONE

Words mean something. We give people the benefit of the doubt, but we don’t forget how what they say now compares with what they’ve said in the past. Naive? Maybe. Still, we respect the power of the word.

Second, while we give people leeway — to a degree, Eon’s principals and its star actors are the modern-day equivalents of P.T. Barnum — we don’t have amnesia. So when Daniel Craig says naming the 2008 007 film Quantum of Solace was HIS IDEA because Ian Fleming novel and short story titles are “not about anything” while Fleming himself pretty much explained the titles meant, we’re going to note it.

And we’re also going to note when Craig sings the praises of a script in 2008 while disowning it three years later.

So, when Barbara Broccoli promises the best James Bond movie ever, or close to it, that is worth noting. “Best” is a subjective term, of course. Still, if she is going to speak without nuance, we’re happy to take her at her word. If she’s right, nobody will be happier than us.

IFP hires writer for new 007 novel, Book Bond Says

Ian Fleming Publications has hired William Boyd to write a new James Bond novel, to be set in the 1960s, according to A POST on The Book Bond Web Site.

Here’s an excerpt, including part of an IFP statement:


Huge news today! Ian Fleming Publications has announced that William Boyd will write the next James Bond novel. Boyd’s yet untitled novel will take Bond back to the 1960s and will be published in Fall 2013 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and HarperCollins in the U.S and Canada. Here is the full press release:

William Boyd to write new James Bond novel
Boyd takes Bond back to the Sixties with all the style and flair of Ian Fleming

William Boyd, the award-winning and bestselling author of Restless and Any Human Heart, is to write the next James Bond novel.

The novel, which is yet to be titled, will be published in the UK and Commonwealth in autumn 2013 by Jonathan Cape – Ian Fleming’s original publisher and an imprint of Vintage Publishing – and simultaneously by HarperCollins Publishers in USA & Canada. Rights were sold in the English language by Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, on behalf of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

William Boyd is the third author in recent years to be invited by the Ian Fleming estate to write an official Bond novel, following in the footsteps of the American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who wrote Carte Blanche in 2011, and Sebastian Faulks, whose Devil May Care was published to mark Ian Fleming’s centenary in 2008.

The key phrase is “in recent years.” IFP, formerly known as Glidrose, “invited” Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Christopher Wood and Raymond Benson to write either new 007 novels or novelizations of James Bond films between 1968 and 2002. IFP changed management about a decade ago and, not uncommon a phenomenon, the current regime tends not to recognize the work of its predecessors.

The last new “adult” Bond novel was Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche, published last year, which rebooted the literary 007 to the 21st Century, just like the film 007′s reboot starting with 2006′s Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. Now, IFP has switched gears back to going with the period piece approach the way it did with Sebastian Faulks’s Devil May Care in 2008.

Our speculation: it may be a sign that IFP has realized there’s no way Eon Productions will ever opt to use a continuation novel as the basis of a movie. Or maybe not.

As of 10 p.m. New York time, there was no press release on the official IFP Web site. So credit John Cox, who runs The Book Bond site, with a scoop (at least among the fan Web sites).

UPDATE: The BBC in A STORY on its Web site, quotes the new 007 author as saying his story will be set in 1969. It also says first-week sales of Deaver’s Carte Blanche novels were a fraction of Faulks’s Devil May Care.

Bardem tells MTV his Skyfall villain is `complex’

Eon Productions last week held some press interviews for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film. MTV was among those who got some time with cast members, including Javier Bardem, who plays the movie’s villain, who the actor refers to as “complex.” Here’s an excerpt:

Javier Bardem, who plays Skyfall's villain, Silva

That great cast includes the ultimate bad guy, Javier Bardem. The actor, who won an Oscar for his bone-chilling role as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men,” will prove yet again that he is a master villain as he takes on the role of Silva.

“I think the character is really complex; he’s not an easy guy,” Bardem said. “He’s not only a villain; it’s more than that, hopefully. It’s what we tried to achieve. I’m giving James Bond a hard time — that’s my job, that’s my duty.”

(Daniel) Craig believes Bardem’s evil role certainly adds great depth to the 23rd installment of 007: “There’s also the very important relationship he has with the bad guy in the movie, which, again, gives the whole film a richer content,” Craig said.

This may be confirmation of the name of Bardem’s character, something that didn’t become known until call sheets from Skyfall filming were sold on eBay. At least, MTV’s Christina Garibaldi writes as if the Silva name is correct. She doesn’t mention how the Silva name was supposed to be a secret until the call sheets surfaced via the James Bond Brasil Web site.

To read a text version of the entire MTV story JUST CLICK HERE. If you click the link below, you may be able (in the U.S. anyway) to see the video version of the MTV story. When we tested it, a media player popped up on our browser.


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