Tribeca to have Nov. 1 showing of Skyfall in NYC

The Tribeca Film Institute in New York is conducting a Nov. 1 advance showing (for the U.S.) of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film.

Tickets aren’t cheap. Prices start at $1,000 each. The event is to raise funds for the non-profit arts group, whose founders include actor Robert De Niro.

The movie will be shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 141 W. 54th St. There is a party afterwards at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd St.

The movie opens Nov. 9 in the U.S. (one day earlier at Imax theaters) while opening Oct. 26 in the U.K.

Skyfall by the numbers: box office figures to keep in mind

This is a sequel to a POST IN MAY about numbers that studio bosses will be watching when Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, arrives in theaters. Here are some numbers to keep in mind for those fans who care about how Skyfall does at the box office.

$596.4 million: Highest worldwide ticket sales for a 007 movie (2006’s Casino Royale). Given rising ticket prices and that Skyfall will be available at Imax theaters (with even higher prices), Skyfall should take over the No. 1 slot for Bond movies if ticket sales are comparable to the first two Daniel Craig 007 films.

$169.4 million: Highest U.S. ticket sales for a 007 movie (2008’s Quantum of Solace). See previous item.

$694.7 million: World wide ticket sales for Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, according to the Box Office Mojo Web Site. The 2011 movie, the fourth in the series starring Tom Cruise and based on the 1966-73 television series, is a barometer of the popularity of the spy/action genre. Put another way: can 007 best Ethan Hunt, or Daniel Craig beat Tom Cruise at the box office?

$209.4 million: Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol’s U.S. ticket sales. Ditto.

50 percent: A figure we’ve mentioned before but is worth repeating. Studio bosses, at least in terms of U.S. ticket sales, look at a 50 percent falloff between the premier weekend and the second weekend as normal. Casino Royale’s falloff was only 25 percent, Quantum of Solace’s was 60 percent. If a movie’s ticket sales decline less than 50 percent, that’s a indicator a film is getting good worth of mouth. When it exceeds 50 percent, the opposite.

Note: not all fans care about the business side of 007, and some couldn’t care less. But for those who do, these figures will be cited in fan debates.

HMSS talks to Jon Burlingame about his 007 music book

Image of the cover of The Music of James Bond from the book’s Amazon.com page (don’t click it won’t work here; see link at bottom of this post).

Jon Burlingame, who has written extensively about film and television music, is coming out with a new book, The Music of James Bond. He’s come up with some research that should intrigue 007 fans. Example: one of the singers of Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, originally intended to be Thunderball’s title song was involved in a lawsuit to try to stop release of the fourth James Bond film.

We did an interview by e-mail. He provided a preview of his book. The author didn’t want to give away too much in our interview, including identifying which Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang singer was involved. Both Shirley Bassey and Dionne Warwick performed the song before Eon Productions went with Tom Jones singing Thunderball.

Anyway, the interview follows:

HMSS: Did you come across information that you found surprising? If so, what was it?

BURLINGAME: I was able to piece together the chronology of what happened with “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” — the unused theme for THUNDERBALL — which had always eluded previous writers and researchers. And I discovered that one vocalist was so incensed about the failure to use her recording that her company sued the producers to attempt to stop distribution of the film in late 1965. (She didn’t succeed, of course.) It was a stunning new discovery and, to me, one of the most fascinating stories in the book.

I also got Paul Williams to recall many of his unused lyrics for MOONRAKER and Johnny Mathis to confirm that he recorded that song, which no one has ever heard. I successfully unraveled the story of the missing Eric Clapton recordings for LICENCE TO KILL and the sad and unfortunate tale of why John Barry was ready to score TOMORROW NEVER DIES and how studio politics derailed it. I obtained new details about the aborted Amy Winehouse song for QUANTUM OF SOLACE and finally got to the bottom of the story involving “No Good About Goodbye,” which has always been rumored to be an unused QoS song.

HMSS:How long did it take to prepare The Music of James Bond? How many of the principals were you able to interview directly?

BURLINGAME: It took eight months to write — and about 45 years of intense interest before that. I signed the contract with Oxford in May 2011 and delivered a final manuscript in December. Like any film-related history that covers several decades, it required considerable research as well as interviews with those key players who were still with us. I had interviewed John Barry often since the late 1980s, so I had material from him prior to his passing.

New interviews included Monty Norman, Vic Flick, Leslie Bricusse, Don Black, Hal David, producer Phil Ramone (OHMSS), engineers Eric Tomlinson and John Richards, Sir George Martin, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, Paul Williams, Bill Conti, Tim Rice, Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Maryam d’Abo, Narada Michael Walden and Diane Warren (LICENCE TO KILL), Eric Serra (GOLDENEYE), David Arnold, conductor Nicholas Dodd (the Arnold films), and Madonna (DIE ANOTHER DAY), among others. {plus extensive, previously unused interviews I had done with Michael Kamen (LICENCE TO KILL) and Michel Colombier (DIE ANOTHER DAY) before each passed away.

HMSS: What is your view of the disputes related to the creation of The James Bond Theme? To some laymen, it really does sound like Barry at the very least added a lot to Monty Norman’s work.

BURLINGAME: He did. The story is very, very complicated, as anyone who followed the London court case should understand. The creation of a piece of music for a film — whether in 1962 or in 2012 — can be a complex process involving a melody line, the addition of rhythm and countermelodies, bridges, etc., and performance issues related to what instruments are being used and how. So it started with Monty Norman and an unused song from an unrealized production; passed through the hands of his own orchestrator; reached John Barry, who undertook what one expert witness at the trial called an “extreme” arrangement; and when Barry called in guitarist Vic Flick, he added his own special touches before the theme was recorded for the first time. To his credit, Norman — despite his differences with Barry over the years — continues to credit Barry with the definitive orchestration of his theme.

I would urge Bond fans to read my first chapter very carefully before drawing, or modifying, their own conclusions. I believe it is as complete a chronicle of the creation of the “James Bond Theme” as is possible at this date.

HMSS: Harry Saltzman almost killed the title songs to Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever and while liking the Live And Let Die song didn’t want Paul McCartney to perform it. Are there any other examples of this sort of thing (not restricted to Saltzman)?

BURLINGAME: From the beginning, it’s always really been a kind of crap shoot to try and create a song that would serve the film but also reach the pop charts to serve the broader promotional needs of the film and be successful on its own. There has always been second-guessing, from the examples you cited to the rush job on MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, the last-minute decision to change lyricists and singers on MOONRAKER, the involvement of record-company people on the songs for A VIEW TO A KILL, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and LICENCE TO KILL, and finally the deep involvement of the studio music department on films like TOMORROW NEVER DIES, DIE ANOTHER DAY and the 2006 CASINO ROYALE. I detail all of these in the book.

For a long time, no composer not named John Barry did a second turn as a 007 film composer, until David Arnold came along. What did he bring to the table that the likes of Bill Conti, Marvin Hamlisch, etc., didn’t?.

BURLINGAME: I don’t think it’s fair to compare David Arnold with Conti and Hamlisch. Each composer tried to do his best with the film he was given. The circumstances were different in each case. All three attempted to “modernize” the Bond sound in their own way, with Hamlisch and Conti applying the pop rhythm sounds of their day (1977, 1981). Arnold came along at a time when the largely electronic (Eric) Serra
score for GOLDENEYE proved problematic for the filmmakers and they were eager to return to a more “traditional” sound. Arnold’s TOMORROW NEVER DIES score took the classic Barry sound and “updated” it with contemporary synth and rhythm-track sounds that proved just right for that film. He delivered what was needed and thus was retained — especially in a time of risk-averse studio thinking that often says, “that worked, that movie made money, let’s have more of that.”

HMSS: What qualities make James Bond scores different than scores of other movies?

BURLINGAME: One of the main points of the book is the assertion that these composers invented a new kind of action-adventure scoring for the Bond films. Partly pop, partly jazz, partly traditional orchestral scoring, the 007 films demanded music that could be variously romantic, suspenseful, drive the action, even punctuate the humor.

It was a tall order, and John Barry, especially, delivered what was necessary and helped define James Bond in a way that wasn’t possible with the visuals alone.

John Barry


HMSS: John Barry won five Oscars for his film work but never for a Bond movie. Meanwhile, Marvin Hamlisch got nominated for his score for The Spy Who Loved Me, and three title songs where Barry was absent (Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better and For Your Eyes Only) got nominated. Why was that?

BURLINGAME: This is a sore point with me. “We Have All the Time in the World” and “Diamonds Are Forever” are two of the greatest movie songs of their time, and both should have been nominated. But the reality is that the Bond films were not taken seriously as artistic achievements at the time, and neither song was a big hit (while record sales helped to drive Barry’s “Born Free” into Oscar territory, and the Bacharach-David “The Look of Love” from (1967’s) CASINO ROYALE was from a very popular, L.A.-based hitmaking team and so was an obvious choice for Oscar attention).

“Live and Let Die,” “Nobody Does It Better” and “For Your Eyes Only” went to no. 2, no. 2 and no. 4 on the American charts, respectively, and thus could not be ignored at Oscar time on the basis of their commercial success alone.

I think you could make a case that “You Only Live Twice,” “We Have All the Time in the World,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “All Time High” and “Surrender” from TOMORROW NEVER DIES could and should have been nominated for Oscar. Maybe even “You Know My Name” from CASINO ROYALE, which has grown on me over the years. Changing Oscar rules in recent years hasn’t helped, but this year, with five nominees for Best Song assured because of a rule change, I think it’s quite likely that we may have a Bond song in contention.

HMSS: What do you think is the best Bond film score? What do you think is the most underrated?

BURLINGAME: You can’t ask a guy who spent six months listening to nothing but Bond
music to choose just one!

I love every note of both GOLDFINGER and ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. I think FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER are terrific scores in every way. And the fact that I grew up in that era may influence my passion for the early Bond scores, when the Barry concept and sound
was so fresh and exciting. I believe THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS may be the most underrated score. There is so much original melodic and rhythmic material there, and a very contemporary sound for 1987; I feel that Barry went out on a very high note with his last Bond score. I also think there is much to admire in Arnold’s first two Bond scores, TOMORROW NEVER DIES and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, and I think his unused song from the latter, “Only Myself to Blame” (with Don Black lyrics) ranks with “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” as another of the unsung masterpieces of Bond music.

HMSS: What do you think Thomas Newman brings to Skyfall?

BURLINGAME: I very much look forward to the SKYFALL score. Every few years there is a new voice in Bond music — this year we have two, in Adele and Thomas Newman — and it’s always a good thing to reexamine what makes Bond music work. Arnold tried to do that with each new Bond score, but I think Newman will offer a fresh musical point of view and I can’t wait to hear what he brings.

For information about ordering the book, CLICK HERE to view Amazon.com’s Web site. You can look at some pages on the Amazon site BY CLICKING HERE.

UPDATE (Sept. 28): Jon Burlingame passes on the following about “rejected” James Bond title songs:

One of the book’s appendices is a chronicle of “would-be” Bond songs. There is a widespread notion out there that these were “rejected” (Johnny Cash for THUNDERBALL, Alice Cooper for GOLDEN GUN, etc.) when in fact most were, at best, unsolicited demos that never even reached the producers, who were not in the habit of entertaining song suggestions from outsiders.

The idea that Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were sitting round their offices listening to these and giving them serious consideration is the height of lunacy.

There really was a “cattle call” for songs for TOMORROW NEVER DIES, but that was done by the studio, not the producers, and I detail the unhappy results in the book.

The dog days of Skyfall

It’s under a month before Skyfall’s world premier and about six weeks before the 23rd James Bond movie comes out in the U.S. At this point, it’s all over but the shouting. Still, perhaps because it’s the 50th anniversary of the first 007 movie, there are few more things to be endured for the dog days of Skyfall. No. 1 example: speculation about who will perform Skyfall’s title song.

Endured? That may seem an odd phrase, but in some ways appropriate. Various Web sites have had breathless stories about how they’ve confirmed that Adele will perform Skyfall’s title song.

One of the most persistent has been a Web site called Showbiz 411, which has run multiple stories saying Adele is the title song performer. The most recent was THIS ONE which not only repeated Adele would sing it but provided what is says are lyrics from the song. Meanwhile, on Twitter, a number of proprietors of 007 fan Web sites (including OUR TWITTER FEEDhave noted nothing has been “confirmed” (a word used in most of the title song stories) because no actual announcement has happened.

Then it hit us: at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Adele do the song? “That’s nice.” Jack White is back for a second time? “That’s nice.” The cast of 2012’s The Three Stooges? “That’s nice.”

Why such a tepid response? Because it’s not really going to affect the movie. After all, the title songs of 2006’s Casino Royale, 2002’s Die Another Day, 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, 1995’s GoldenEye, 1987’s The Living Daylights, 1983’s Octopussy, etc., etc., etc. didn’t have a massive impact on those movies.

There’s a handful of “classic” Bond title songs. For argument’s sake, let’s call Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better and For Your Eyes Only classic title songs. And not everybody would agree on all of those. Some people, for example, will discuss why, Goldfinger, is a musically challenged song. And some Bond fans say there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about any 007 film with Roger Moore.

Meanwhile, the composer of the movie’s score (Thomas Newman in Skyfall’s case) will either enhance or detract from scenes in the movie.

In fact, TWO OF THE TOP THREE 007 movies in a vote by readers of 007 Magazine, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and From Russia With Love, didn’t have songs in their main titles (while having songs later in the film). Dr. No, the first movie, led off with The James Bond Theme, some Jamaician-sounding music courtesy of Monty Norman and a short song called “Three Blind Mice.”

But the entertainment Web sites soldier on as if the selection of a title song performer represented the second coming of Shirley Bassey or Nancy Sinatra. Still, the 50th anniversary (Oct. 5 to be precise) is more than a week away. A title song announcement would be natural for the occasion. Then again, it might be anti-climatic. Anyway, until then, the dog days of Skyfall continue.

New Hawaii Five-0 borrows from 007 again


Last season, the new Hawaii Five-0 televisions series seemed to borrow quite a bit from the 2002 007 film Die Another Day in an episode where Steve McGarrett 2.0 (Alex O’Loughlin) ended up going to North Korea and was tortured by arch-nemesis Wo Fat.

For the third-season premier on Sept. 24, the CBS show was at it again, this time paying an homage (if you can call it that) to You Only Live Twice and Licence to Kill.

Wo Fat, captured at the end of last season was supposed to be transferred to a super-maximum security prison on the Mainland. He’s in an armored car (not unlike, say, Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill). A helicopter swoops out of the air. Instead of using a giant magnet (as the Japanese secret service did in You Only Live Twice), it uses a giant claw and takes the armored car away.

The helicopter then, once over the Pacific Ocean, lets go of the armored car, as in Twice (except it appeared to be GCI rather than the real thing). After the armored car is submerged, there are thugs in scuba equipment ready to rescue Wo Fat (again similar to Licence to Kill where the armored car carrying Sanchez goes off a bridge and into the water).

As we type this, the episode is still being broadcast, so maybe the script by Peter M. Lenkov has more 007 homages in store.

UPDATE: No other 007 homages (at least not as obvious), but the episode also showed how the new series is different than the 1968-80 original.

In the third season of the original Five-O (spelled with a capital O instead of a 0 as in the new series), the girlfriend (Anne Archer) of Dan Williams was killed by a murderer wanting it to appear to be the work of a psychopath. Danno eventually caught up with the culprit and could have let him fall off a cliff. Danno was tempted but brings his man in alive.

In the third-season opener of new Five-0, the wife of Chin Ho Kelly dies. When Chin Ho catches up to his man, he shoots him dead. There are no witnesses and he gets off without repercussion.

Does new Skyfall TV spot have a (minor) spoiler?

A new Skyfall commercial aired during the Emmy Awards broadcast on Sept. 23. Around the 0:20 mark, Daniel Craig’s 007 walks through a door that looks familiar to those who’ve viewed Bond movies of the 1960s and ’70s. Craig’s line, “007 reporting for duty,” is from a different scene based on previous TV spots and trailers.

There has been some speculation among fans about how Skyfall may end. Also, back IN A JULY VIDEO WEBLOG, director Sam Mendes teased, “There’s something about the last part of the movie, which is deliberately, very consciously, could have taken place in 1962.”

Has a sample of Thomas Newman’s Skyfall score surfaced?

On Sept. 22, a video was uploaded to YouTube that’s supposed to be part of Thomas Newman’s score for Skyfall. It lasts 1:33 and looks like this:

Dig into the description and you can find the source: a SKYFALL-THEMED PAGE FOR COKE ON THE WEBSITE OF IFLY MAGAZINE.

Thomas Newman


If you call up the advertisement, the music plays continuously. For now, it’s impossible to determine if this is actually from the 23rd James Bond film or something worked up for the ad.

There’s certainly more interest than normal given Newman is the first new 007 composer in 15 years, has a long list of credits and comes from a dynasty of movie composers. He was brought into work on Skyfall because he has worked on other movies directed by Sam Mendes.