Sony considers proposal to sell piece of entertainment unit


Sony Corp.’s board is considering a proposal from a major shareholder to sell as much as 20 percent of its entertainment business, which includes the Sony movie studio, according to various reports, including BLOOMBERG.COM, THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

The Columbia Pictures unit of Sony has released the last three James Bond movies from 2006 through 2012 and is contracted to distribute the next film, Bond 24, whenever it comes out.

The proposal to sell a piece of the entertainment business was made last week by investor Daniel Loeb and his Third Point LLC, which holds a 6.5 percent stake in Sony. An excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter story citing Sony Corp. CEO Kaz Hirai:

“Firstly, I would like to clarify that the Third Point proposal is to sell off 15-20 percent of the entertainment division, not to spin it off as a separate entity,” said Hirai. “ We take this as an important proposal from one of our shareholders, and we will consider it thoroughly. We will discuss this fully at the board level and present our answer.”

The New York Times ran a MAY 19 REPORT about Sony Studios that said it wasn’t as profitable as other studios. The story cited Skyfall as an example. The Wilson-Broccoli family (referred to as the “James Bond rights holders”) got its cut and then Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony split the remainder 75-25, according to the story.

To view a Bloomberg Television video about Sony, CLICK HERE.

More HMSS reviews of Skyfall Part IV

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Fourth in a series of Skyfall reviews written for a never-published issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant.

By Phil Gerrard

When it comes to Bond movies, tradition is treacherous. It’s why we’ve seen You Only Live Twice four times (renamed The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and Tomorrow Never Dies), Goldfinger twice (the execrable ‘A View to a Kill’) and why anniversaries and landmarks have been celebrated with greatest-hits exercises like Spy Who Loved Me and Die Another Day. So how best to mark the series’ 50th anniversary?

With Skyfall, EON’s answer is to nod respectfully to the past without it becoming dead weight. Most importantly they’ve borne in mind the lesson of ‘Casino Royale’, the first film of the Daniel Craig era, and of Ian Fleming’s novels, that one of the most interesting things that can be done with a recurring character is to find new things to do with (and to) him.

While there’s little in Skyfall’s narrative which owes much to Fleming, there’s everything in the atmosphere, in particular the all-but-unfilmed You Only Live Twice. There are the requisite bangs, crashes, betrayals, seductions, and air-punching moments of pure Bond, but there’s also time to reflect, to allow the narrative to breathe and scenes to play proper length. After the frantic Quantum of Solace, that’s a welcome reminder that relentlessness and forward motion are two very different things.

For some of us, Craig nailed what Fleming always intended during the opening shots of Casino Royale, but for any doubters (rather than haters) left, Skyfall should confirm that he’s the best Bond since Sean Connery. One more film as strong as this might crown him the best 007. His Bond is newly veteran and this suits Craig’s saturnine presence perfectly.

For arguably the first time, EON allow its lead actor free rein to explore Bond’s darker, more self-destructive side. This is a Bond pitched somewhere between the opening chapters of Fleming’s Thunderball and You Only Live Twice novels, rendered unfit for duty by a combination of trauma and inactivity.

Bond’s return from the wilderness and gradual recovery are paced perfectly within the context of the film, and crucially they restore the gut physicality so sadly lacking in the previous Bond film, Quantum of Solace. As in Casino Royale, the derring-do feels like it has a real potential cost: it hurts in a properly Flemingesque manner and again raises the stakes for a series which, on occasion, has been too keen to allow the audience to relax knowing that everything will work out OK.

One thing the Craig movies have lacked so far is a Bond villain of the first rank. Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre in Casino Royale was a fine creation, but like Fleming’s original he lacked a little something by virtue of the fact that the character is a desperate and cornered man with a bigger threat lurking in the shadows behind him. Quantum of Solace threw away a valuable actor, Mathieu Amalric, on a painfully underdeveloped role.

In Javier Bardem’s Silva, the Craig era has produced its first unqualified classic bad guy. A sexually omnivorous, capricious, and pitiful figure with a nice line in exasperated sighs, he’s motivated not by money or ideology but be the loss of any moral compass: he’s a borderline nihilist and all the more dangerous and unpredictable for it. Above all, Bardem’s work is both suitably big and subtly nuanced. He has fun with his villainy (as a Bond villain should) without ever tipping into the kind of pantomime performance which drains a movie of threat.

As the object of his vendetta, Judi Dench is given one of her too-rare opportunities to do something with the character of M. Often in previous films her role extended no further than barking orders and exhibiting clucking, motherly concern.

Skyfall expands on some of the themes established in Casino Royale, most notably the necessity for M to make hard, even harsh, decisions. Skyfall brings these consequences home with a vengeance. M is beset not only by enemies but by supposed allies, and Dench makes full use of the opportunities afforded her: M has never seemed so exposed and vulnerable, nor at times quite so defiant. Dench plays the difficult transitions with aplomb, yet without ever doing the obvious and begging the audience’s pity.

Some early reviews have stressed this is M’s movie, but it isn’t just that. All of the principal characters claim sections of the film as their own, and the movie isall the richer for it. Silva is afforded not one but two show-stopping monologues, one playfully sadistic and the other wracked; the introductory scene for Ben Whishaw’s prissily youthful Q has an extra layer of debate below the smart by-play; Albert Finney, whose screen career exceeds the lifespan even of the Bond films, makes what should have been a cameo both hilarious and poignant; and the excellent Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner registers far more than such an apparently functionary role should.

Even a character like Gareth Mallory, who could have been the standard bureaucratic-obstacle-turned-ally figure we’ve seen so often before, is given a character arc worth having. It’s a credit to the current rude health of the Bond franchise that an actor of Ralph Fiennes’ talent could be enticed to take a role which on the face of it wouldn’t necessarily require a marquee name.

The only actors whose characters don’t feel quite as rounded as they should be are Naomie Harris’s Eve, whose character is kept underdeveloped (I believe) for a specific reason, and Berenice Marlohe, whose affectingly neurotic Severine has, I suspect, ended up being short-changed by the need to keep the film down to a manageable length.

The script, by regulars Neil Purvis and Robert Wade and Bond newcomer John Logan, largely foregrounds character development and themes and leaves the plot quietly to take care of itself. For the most part this works. There are a few slightly too-neat coincidences and points glided over, but it’s hard to think of an action movie, let alone a Bond movie, which avoids these problems with complete success.

More problematic is the deliberate attempt to reintroduce humour to the series. The one-liners which the series had largely abandoned are back. It’s a mixed blessing. Craig handles them supremely well — he’s naturally deadpan and even manages a surprisingly effective bit of Roger-Moore-style physical comedy at one moment. Still, one wishes more work had been put into the gags which don’t quite hit the spot and the rest left aside. Above all, it bespeaks a surprising lack of confidence on EON’s part. The humour was already within the script (for example in the Q scenes). It shouldn’t need mildly crass punchlines to point it up.

These are minor concerns when balanced against the strength of the piece as a whole and the fact that the film’s human drama is so well shaded – something which happens all too rarely in the race to the next explosion or blatant appeal to sentiment which characterises so much modern action movie scripting.

Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Sam Mendes was to direct Skyfall, but he proves yet again that the Bond films do themselves nothing but good by hiring A-list talent. He’s a smart enough director to know when to trust his source material, get out-of-the-way, and allow craft to prevail over tricksiness.

Where Mendes does demonstrate an auteur’s eye, it works in the film’s favour. Having shown us one brutal hand-to-hand fight between Bond and Ola Rapace’s Patrice, he understands that their next encounter has to be something quite other, and the result, silhouetted against an ever-changing neon background, is not just a highlight of the movie but of the series to date. Where ‘Quantum of Solace’ staged one frenetic action sequence after another without giving a great deal of thought to contrast, Skyfall breaks down into acts and discrete sections so perfectly that one can imagine Fleming’s chapter headings as the film progresses.

It’s also the best-looking Bond film in years, particularly when seen in IMAX, thanks largely to Roger Deakins’ cinematography. There’s an immersiveness and depth to the visuals, most in-your-face in the neon jungle of Shanghai, most subtle in the muted tones of the Highlands climax, and a subtle audacity to some of the shots which doesn’t become apparent until one thinks about them later: no straining for effect here, just the kind of quiet visual intelligence which gives a film’s imagery a resonance far longer-lived than that of many action movies. Meanwhile, the hugely welcome return of Daniel Kleinman after MK12’s mundanely generic titles for ‘Quantum of Solace’ makes one wish that imaginative and thematically rich opening sequences weren’t all but a dead art.

One letdown is Thomas Newman’s score. While efficient and by no means poor, it’s very wanting when it comes to the kinds of melodies and counter-melodies at which John Barry was so adept. Where Barry could conjure up depths of mood which the movies frankly sometimes didn’t deserve (You Only Live Twice is a better movie to hear than to watch), Newman’s work seems often too timid.

Of Craig’s three Bond films to date, where does this one rank? It’s very hard to call. Casino Royale certainly scores higher as far as its construction is concerned: it’s far more watertight than Skyfall, which has its fair share of shortcuts and plot holes. Then again, so did many of Fleming’s novels, and it was the famous “Fleming sweep: which propelled the reader past these.

The things that make Skyfall are its emotional heft, its emphasis on character, and its attempts to create a film which is fine in its own right as well as being an excellent addition to the canon. Casino Royale was a welcome step forward for a series which from time to time (most notably during the 1970s and 1990s) seemed to confuse tradition with stasis, and Skyfall continues and expands upon that approach, while at the same time reintroducing and reinventing elements of the past. To have brought that off so successfully is a hell of an achievement by any standards.

There was a sound enough reason for the repetition within some of the Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s, when once they left the cinema they were gone apparently for good. By the time of the Pierce Brosnan movies, it was starting to feel like a comfortable but not especially exciting option. Literal recreations of past movies can be enjoyable but often leave one wondering what the point was (see, for example, Steven Soderbergh’s ‘The Good German’).

Now that the great early Bond films such as From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are instantly available, mere imitation seems increasingly futile. With Casino Royale and ‘Skyfall’ EON has embarked on a new phase, mining Fleming for what hasn’t been done yet, paying respect to the past without feeling bound to recreate it, and never mistaking the letter for the spirit.

One hopes that Fleming would have both recognised and approved. GRADE: A.

(C) 2013, Phil Gerrard

More HMSS reviews of Skyfall Part III

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Third in a series of Skyfall reviews written for a never-published issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant

By Ed Werner

Be careful in what you wish for.

Back in the dark ages of Bond in the seventies, HMSS co-founder Paul Baack and I hoped for and wondered what a truly character driven Bond film would be like. We really wanted the producers to get into Bond’s history, background, feelings and what made him tick. It only took 23 films for that to happen.

Now that it’s been done, I hope they don’t do it again anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, I loved delving into more of his personal life, but I think maybe there was just a little too much emotional trauma going on here for a Bond movie. I felt spent after watching it, something in this series that has never happened to me before.

I think many people go to a Bond film for the escapism, to get lost for two hours and come away entertained. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from Skyfall, I tried to stay off the grid and under the radar for this one. I wanted to go into it with no preconceived notions — but I wasn’t ready for this.

This film is a grand experiment on the part of producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and I applaud the risks they took in bringing this very personal side of the character to us. However, this is also a Bond film that’s very different from all that has come before and will be debated by Bond aficionados for many years to come. Is this film the official end of the “reboot” and now will 007 go back to saving the world from Armageddon on a regular basis? One can only wait and see.

Some random thoughts:

The film itself is beautifully photographed, I haven’t seen this kind of consistently beautiful camera work in a Bond film since You Only Live Twice. The Shanghai scenes were breathtaking, from the interior shots in the building under construction where we see Bond take out a sniper, to the casino, the camera angles and the color palette are incredible. In the later part of the film, Scotland has rarely looked more grand and foreboding. The interiors elsewhere in the film were all beautifully polished wood as opposed to the Ken Adam type brushed stainless steel that has gotten a little long in the tooth. Just take a look at M’s office near the end of the movie and compare it to the metal and glass that had been the norm since Brosnan took over the helm back in ’95.

The acting was mostly first-rate this time around. Judi Dench shows once again why she is a treasure in British cinema. This time around, M’s and Bond’s relationship is much deeper than has ever been explored before and a lesser actor would have made the climax much less memorable.

The new young Q works well with this Bond, although Desmond Llewelyn’s shoes are almost impossible to fill. Still, when you think how important technology is in almost all facets of life these days, business as well as intelligence, and who is the most well versed in this field, it makes sense that Q is the age he is.

The introduction of Eve, and who she actually is, totally broadsided me. I never saw that coming. At first, Naomie Harris reminded me of maybe a more capable Rosie Carver from Live and Let Die. However, after her first few moments of screen time, I realized that this actress and character were a force to be reckoned and much more important than Rosie. At last, we have finally been shown the genesis of one of Bond’s most memorable relationships!

Javier Bardem, who plays the baddun, Silva, reminds one of the best villains of the earlier Bond films. No superhuman strength, no webs growing between the fingers, not wimpy. Just very evil, a little off his rocker and hell-bent for revenge — but not against Bond. He never goes off on a raging rant, just keeps his cool and intelligently reeks havoc. He has no desire to go all Blofeld on us with visions of world domination and the character works marvelously because of it as well as Bardem’s sublime acting.

Daniel Craig has given us a new critical standard for the character of Bond, going to places none of the other Bond actors has had the opportunity to explore. He may not exactly look, speak, dress or move like the James Bond some of us have in the back of our minds. But he gives a very credible read to the character and is probably the most important choice of actor to play the part since the 1960s.

The only character that I thought was mis-cast and poorly written, was that of Severine, the “sacrificial lamb” of the movie. Although the more I think about it, there is one much more important character that could be put into that category. But you will need see the movie to make that determination yourself. Berenice Marlohe who plays Severine, doesn’t really lend herself to sympathy because you don’t really care for or about her.

The action sequences were well thought out, well photographed and easy to follow. You could actually keep track of what was happening and who was doing what to whom. Totally unlike the action fiasco in Quantum of Solace with its hyper editing and shaky cam. You’d have thought that the powers that be would have learned from the CGI debacle in the second half of Die Another Day that the flavor of the month in cinematography doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to the world of Bond. Thankfully, the producers have gone on record saying that a 3-D Bond is definitely not in our future.

The story itself is something I think Fleming could have dreamed up had he lived longer and written a few more Bond novels. It’s really a timeless story that could have felt just at home in the ’60s as it does some 50 years later. The four-year hiatus definitely benefited the story. It’s well thought out. The pacing is right on. Let’s hope that EON can continue to pull off this kind of film..

This may not be the absolute best Bond film released to date, but it is one of the most important.

(C) 2013 Ed Werner

Star Trek’s homage to Ken Adam

Ken Adam's "war room" set from Dr. Strangelove

Ken Adam’s “war room” set from Dr. Strangelove

This weekend, the No. 1 in the U.S. is Star Trek Into Darkness. The movie references the original 1966-69 television series and one of the movies in the franchise. We’ll avoid specifics. But it also has an homage to veteran production designer Ken Adam, one of the major contributors to the early James Bond films.

Early in the new Star Trek film, there’s an emergency meeting of Starfleet captains and their first officers. The meeting room is clearly influenced by Adam’s “war room” set from the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Do you suppose Ken Adam will get a royalty for this scene?

Do you suppose Ken Adam will get a royalty for this scene?

For the uninitiated, Ken Adam designed the sets for the modestly budgeted first James Bond film Dr. No. Producer-cirector Stanley Kubrick, upon watching the 1962 007 film, offered Adam the job to design the sets for Dr. Strangelove. The “war room” set is among the most memorable for that 1964 film.

Adam designed the sets for seven James Bond films in all, starting with Dr. No and ending with 1979’s Moonraker. He won TWO OSCARS and was nominated for another for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Kubrick did some uncredited consulting work for Adam for the 1977 007 movie, according to the documentary Inside The Spy Who Loved Me.

Sony watch: studio facing challenges


UPDATE (May 21): The Nikkei news service in Japan has reported that Sony Corp. is considering a spinoff of its entertainment business. Nikkei has an English Web site but to access THE STORY you have to be a subscriber. If you CLICK HERE, you can view a Los Angeles Times story that summarizes the Nikkei piece.

According to a BLOOMBERG.COM STORY, Sony shares climbed to their highest levels in more than two years after the Nikkei report.

ORIGINAL POST: The New York Times, IN THE LEAD STORY IN ITS MAY 19 BUSINESS SECTION has a detailed story about challenging times at Sony Pictures, the entertainment arm of Sony Corp.

One problem: it’s not as profitable as other studios, even with Agent 007 in its portfolio. According to reporters Brook Barnes and Michael Cieply, Sony’s operating margin was 6.5 percent and “figures at Warner Brothers, Disney, Paramount and 20th Century Fox were all higher.”

Here’s an excerpt with part of the explanation:

SONY’S $4.4 billion in ticket sales last year was impressive, but shareholders care about profit margins.

The movie studio’s bottom line didn’t look better for several reasons. For one thing, about 75 percent of the “Skyfall” revenue went to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after James Bond rights holders took their cut. Revenue from some DVD titles — “Zero Dark Thirty,” for instance — will come in the next fiscal year. But more important, “Men in Black 3” cost an arm and a leg, and when you’re making this many movies some are bound to miss: Sony’s hits were offset by the major flops “Total Recall” and Mr. (Adam) Sandler’s “That’s My Boy.”

Thus, in the case of Skyfall, which Sony distributed, the studio was third in line after the Broccoli-Wilson family and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Another challenge is investor Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point LLC, acquired a 6.5 percent stake and wants Sony Corp. to sell of 20 percent of its entertainment business and focus on its consumer electronics unit. Loeb, according to the Times, “specifically complained” about profitability of the entertainment unit. Sony said the entertainment business wasn’t up for sale.

Sony’s Columbia Pictures has distributed the last three 007 films (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall) and is contracted to do so again for Bond 24 whenever it’s made.

For the complete NYT story, CLICK HERE. For more, you can CLICK HERE for a May 16 story headlined “Sony’s $100 Billion Lost Decade Supports Loeb Brakeup.” You can also CLICK HERE for a May 14 story by the Deadline entertainment news Web site.

More HMSS reviews of Skyfall (Part II)

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Second of a series of Skyfall reviews written for a never-published issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant.

By Xander Johnson

James Bond has done battle with adversaries with varying goals and delusions of grandeur. He has also conducted these battles in many exotic and unfamiliar environments. Despite fans following Bond’s every move for 23 films during his 50-year odyssey into cinema history, Bond has never been shown outside of a two-dimensional light. He’s a soldier for the Empire. That is all that they ever needed to know.

It’s this little detail that sets Sam Mendes’ Skyfall apart from the rest of the Bond franchise.

Skyfall brings the audience up close and intimate with Bond (Daniel Craig) in a way that has never been seen before. M (Judi Dench) makes a poor judgment during a field mission in which Bond and fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) must retrieve a file that contains all of the names of active field agents working for MI6. The result is Bond being taken down by a bullet, plummeting off of a moving train. Bond is declared dead, his assets seized and sold. He enjoys his “death” in a tropical landscape, and as he sits with a young woman, dressed down from his usual Tom Ford suits, Bond reveals a vulnerability that has never been seen before.

Back in Britain, M is the target of a review stemming from her poor judgment. She then becomes the target of a hacker who warns her about the deaths of many to come, and closes with the message, “Think on your sins.” Unfortunately, this hacker makes good on the promise. The targets are the agents whose names were on the file that Bond was sent to retrieve. These deaths, as well as MI6 being compromised, spread fear and panic throughout the British government, and it is all on M’s shoulders.

During his “death” Bond sees a news report detailing the current crisis in Britain. He shows his loyalty by wasting no time in returning without second thoughts. He meets with M in her home and he is told that he must retake the tests to be qualified for active field duty since he has been written off as deceased.

As he progresses through his mission, Bond travels to Shanghai, where he battles his target in a fight scene takes place that it is reminiscent of 007’s fight with Red Grant in From Russia With Love. Bond later finds himself face to face with Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a flamboyant and psychotic former agent who harbors a clear grudge against M. As Silva’s path of destruction and terror continues, he accomplishes something no other Bond villain has before: he takes the fight to Bond’s doorstep in a mental and personal way. The motif of the fight being brought to Bond comes full circle during the film’s climax, which takes place in the only place that this ordeal could ever possibly end: Bond’s childhood home.

After a breathtaking opening credit sequence as well as the dark and somber tones of Adele’s title song, it is apparent that Bond is no longer in his prime of life. Age renders him weary and rusty, and his experiences have broken him down into a seasoned but morose figure. Even his physical appearance is a product of his aging: bags under his eyes, with the visage of a tormented war veteran.

When he returns to MI6, Bond finds himself out of his element and surrounded by young upstarts, a role reversal from previous Bond films where Bond is shown as the cocksure young man. This relationship is best conveyed with Bond’s interactions with his new Quartermaster (Ben Whishaw), who was previously the old coot fending off the young whippersnapper Bond. With Craig and Whishaw, it’s the other way around, with Bond being the aged and seasoned death dealer, and Q as the up-and-comer whose youth makes him perhaps a little too sure of himself. Q even makes the argument that he could do more damage with his laptop before his first cup of tea than Bond could do in a year on the field.

Bond’s age takes center stage once again when he retakes his field aptitude tests. He struggles with a simple physical exercise and performs so poorly on his marksmanship test that calling it failure would be an act of charity. But Bond’s psychological examination truly reveals his state of mind. A psychologist begins a word association exercise that causes Bond to draw connections to either his job or lack of personal life, as when he writes off a word like murder as “employment.” But the word Skyfall so disturbs Bond that he ends the evaluation abruptly.

Despite failing the tests, M declares Bond fit for duty. But he finds himself against a formidable enemy, and once again, role reversals come into play; Silva is well-dressed, clean-cut, and still a very capable death dealer, while Bond is showing no signs of improvement from his earlier handicaps, a fact which Silva relates to Bond as he gives him his true results of his field aptitude test. Only an intervention from Q’s tracking device (which Bond humorously calls a radio) saves him from Silva.

After a direct attack on MI6, Bond’s abilities show improvement through sheer perseverance and determination, as he thwarts Silva’s attempts to assassinate M. Knowing full well that M is in danger, Bond takes her to the only place he knows she will be safe, and where they will have a home field advantage against Silva: Bond’s childhood home, Skyfall.

It’s there where Bond makes a full recovery and he again becomes the agent he was back in his prime, and shows yet another role reversal. Bond almost single-handedly dispatches all of Silva’s entourage through sheer cunning and resourcefulness. Silva falls apart from his injuries sustained throughout the course of the final battle. The battle with Silva ends with Bond killing him by throwing a knife into his back, but Bond is still unable to save M from her demise from an injury she sustained very early in the fight.

M is given a proper burial, and is replaced by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), who continues to use Bond as an active field agent and immediately gives him his next assignment.

Skyfall proves itself to be not just another action-packed, fun-loving Bond film. Instead, it’s the story of Bond’s fall from grace and rise from the ashes. He starts at his lowest point and must work his way up to being the secret agent the audience knows and loves. The audience may ask questions such as “is Bond a character that really needs a backstory?”, but when a story such as Skyfall is delivered, it’s a treat to see the who, what, where, why and how behind the iconic Bond, James Bond.

(C) 2013 Xander Johnson

Questions about a (possible) Nolan-directed 007 film

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan's production company

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

WARNING: This is very much putting the cart before the horse. Nobody has said Christopher Nolan *will* direct Bond 24. The U.K. Daily Mail has reported only that the director has been *approached* about the job. Bear all that in mind before reading the following.

This week, the Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K. reported that Christopher Nolan, director of three Batman movies from 2005 through 2012, had been “approached” about directing Bond 24.

The writer, Baz Bagimboye, had a number of scoops about Skyfall, the most recent 007 movie, that proved to be correct. So, it got the attention of a lot of fans. If Nolan eventually signs on the dotted line, it raises a number of questions about Bond 24. Among them:

1. What happens to writer John Logan? Logan was brought in by director Sam Mendes to rewrite Skyfall. Eon Productions originally announced that Peter Morgan would collaborate with scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Eventually, Morgan left without getting a screen credit. But Logan evidently impressed somebody because he was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25 while Purvis and Wade departed the series.

But things can change, as Morgan can attest. Christopher Nolan is fond of writing his own movies, either by himself (Inception) or collaborating with his brother Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer (the three Batman movies or the upcoming Man of Steel, which was produced by Nolan). If Nolan comes aboard, will Logan stay or go?

2. Do other members of Nolan’s posse also participate? Nolan has a production company, Syncopy. That logo ended up being featured at the start of the third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, along with the logos of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Ditto for Man of Steel. The Syncopy group includes Emma Thomas, a producer who’s married to Nolan, and Charles Roven, another producer. Also, Nolan frequently collaborates with Wally Pfister as director of photography. Pfister is directing Transcendence a movie scheduled for a 2014 release.

While Eon may be interested in Nolan’s services as a director, would it also hire Nolan-affiliated producers such as Thomas and Roven? Eon, led by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, has its own group of supporting producers, including Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael. On the other hand, Eon has probably would be open to hiring Pfister. That would be similar to Skyfall, where Roger Deakins was brought on as director of photography because Mendes wanted him.

3. Would Hans Zimmer be the newest 007 composer? Zimmer also works frequently with Nolan. Again, that’s a situation similar to Skyfall, where Thomas Newman was hired as composer because of his relationship with Mendes. A Zimmer-scored Bond 24 might be similar to Skyfall in other ways. Mendes said that Nolan’s The Dark Knight from 2008 influenced the 2012 007 movie. Some tracks of Newman’s score (particularly the Shanghai sequences and the action sequences at the Macao casino) sounded similar to Zimmer’s music for Nolan’s Batman films.

4. What would the running time of a Nolan-directed Bond 24 be? Probably not short. Batman Begins was 140 minutes, The Dark Knight was 152 minutes, Inception was 148 minutes and The Dark Knight Rises was a whopping 165 minutes.

UPDATE (May 22): The Latinos Post Web site has a short article about actresses Nolan has cast in various movies and whether they could become part of the cast of a Nolan-directed Bond 24.

Daily Mail says Nolan `approached’ about Bond 24

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall scoops proven correct, is reporting that Christopher Nolan has been “APPROACHED” ABOUT DIRECTING BOND 24.

Here’s an excerpt:

Christopher Nolan has been approached to direct the next 007 movie.

It’s early days, but informal talks have begun between Nolan, his representatives and the powers behind the James Bond pictures, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G .Wilson.

The story is less that definitive. There’s a later line that says, “But as one of my Bond experts commented: ‘It does no harm for Broccoli and Wilson to talk with Nolan, even if nothing happens this time round.’” Still, Skyfall director Sam Mendes commented how his 007 film was inspired by Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight and there are similarities between the two films.

You can CLICK HERE to see Bamigboye scoops that were proven correct, including that Naomie Harris’s character turned out to be Moneypenny.

IF Bamigboye is correct this time, it’s possibly another sign Bond 24 is more likely for 2015 than 2014. Nolan, director of three Batman films from 2005 to 2012, is committed TO DIRECT A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE IN NOVEMBER 2014.

We’ll see if anything happens of all this. To read the entire Daily Mail story, CLICK HERE.

YESTERDAY’S POST: More signs Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

More signs Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

When will Daniel Craig's 007 return?

When will Daniel Craig’s 007 return?

This is just a guess, but there seem to be more signs that Bond 24 won’t appear in theaters until at least 2015.

First, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have gotten involved in another film project, according to THE SCREEN DAILY WEB SITE. Here’s an excerpt:

EXCLUSIVE: Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to exec-produce love story starring Andrea Riseborough and Damian Lewis, due to get underway this summer.

Oblivion and Shadowdancer star Andrea Riseborough is to star alongside Homeland’s Damian Lewis in love story The Silent Storm, which WestEnd will be presenting to buyers in Cannes.

James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions will executive produce and finance the drama, which is produced by Moon co-producer Nicky Bentham of Neon Films….Principal photography is due to get underway this summer in Scotland.

Tea leaf No. 2, courtesy of THE MI6 FAN WEB SITE, is a story that has this quote from actor Ben Whishaw, who played the young Q in Skyfall: “More Bond, but we don’t even know when that’s going to happen, you never know…I’ve heard some things, but I can’t share. I thought it might be the end of this year but I’m not sure anymore.”

Finally, what wasn’t said by Gary Barber, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eon’s partner in the Bond movies. In November, he told investors the company hoped Bond 24 could come out in two years but he’d settle for three years. He also disclosed that John Logan, a writer on Skyfall, would write Bond 24 and Bond 25. In early 2013, Barber said Bond 24 would be out within three years. If taken literally, that could mean as late as 2016.

This week, Barber said nothing about Bond 24. At the same time, no investors asked, unlike the two previous quarterly earnings calls.

Nothing is certain. Still, both Broccoli and Wilson have publicly said they don’t want to be compelled to meet an every-other-year schedule. (Here’s ONE EXAMPLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.)

MGM, back when it was in bankruptcy three years ago, said having Bond movies out every other year was a major part of its reorganization plan. These days, the company isn’t talking about the subject much anymore.

Maybe things will change. But with no director signed, or even publicly talked about, the clock is slowly ticking on a 2014 James Bond film. Skyfall was announced in JANUARY 2011 and filming began 10 months later. It’s less than seven-and-a-half months until the start of 2014, about the time production would start for a November 2014 release.

MARCH 2013 POST: Why we guess Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

MGM watch: Studio says Skyfall helped first-quarter profit

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s parent company reported a first-quarter profit helped by Skyfall.

MGM Holdings posted a profit of $57 million on revenue of $482 million for the first three months of 2013. The period saw the last theatrical showings of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and the start of the movie’s home-video sales. MGM executives said on a conference call (which you can access BY CLICKING HERE) that the company sold 9 million “units” of Skyfall home video, including 5.5 million in international markets. The company also sold 600,000 Bond 50 DVD sets of the first 22 movies in the series produced by Eon Productions.

MGM’s CEO, Gary Barber, had nothing to say about Bond 24. In the previous two quarterly investor calls, Barber said that John Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25 and that the next 007 film adventure would come out sometime in the next three years. Barber’s comments about Logan confirmed a report that appeared in the Deadline entertainment news Web site.

Barber volunteered no information this time out and no investors asked a Bond 24-related question. Barber said an initial public offering was an option for MGM, but wouldn’t comment beyond that.