Happy New Year, hoping for a better 2017

Our other annual greeting

The Spy Commander had considered retiring this greeting with the death of Robert Vaughn in November. But I decided against it.

It’s an amusing image and a perfect example of how Vaughn created the role of Napoleon Solo. Also, art outlives the artist. That’s the way of the world.

So, to all our readers, here’s hoping you have a great 2017 — or at least, you have a better year than 2016.

Once more, Napoleon Solo reminds everyone to party responsibly.

solonye

Bond series now No. 004 in unadjusted film series box office

Facebook image Marvel put on Facebook

Facebook image Marvel put on Facebook in May.

The Bond Bulletin in a post today noted that the James Bond film series had fallen behind Star Wars in all-time box office. Depending on how you define “franchises,” 007 is now 004 in unadjusted box office.

In a list of franchises on The Numbers box office website, the Marvel Cinematic Universe as of Dec. 30 has $10.9 billion worldwide box office, Harry Potter $8.47 billion, Star Wars $7.2 billion and James Bond $7.08 billion.

Again, this is unadjusted box office. It’s not number of tickets sold. And it doesn’t account for rising ticket prices.

Here’s how each franchise is defined in the list compiled by The Numbers website:

James Bond: The 24 007 films produced by Eon Productions since 1962 plus 1983’s Never Say Never Again (not made by Eon but with original film 007 Sean Connery). It does not include 1967’s Casino Royale spoof film.

Star Wars: Nine movies comprised of original trilogy (1977-1983), second trilogy (1999-2005), Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), and this year’s Rogue One, a Star Wars story.

Harry Potter: Eight Harry Potter series films released 2001 to 2011, a Potter marathon at Imax theaters this year and 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spinoff.

Marvel: Fourteen films, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man and running through this year’s Dr. Strange, produced by Marvel Studios. All of the movies occur in the same fictional universe. It does not count X-Men and Fantastic Four films produced by 20th Century Fox and Spider-Man movies produced by Sony Pictures.

Fox and Sony licensed those characters before Marvel decided to make its own movies. The separate X-Men category on The Numbers website includes solo films featuring Wolverine an Deadpool.

Both Star Wars and Marvel fell under the wing of Walt Disney Co. through acquisitions. They’re released under Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel brand names.

Under Disney ownership, both Lucasfilm and Marvel are ramping up production.

Episode VIII of Star Wars comes out next year, with other Star Wars-related films, such as Rogue One, planned. Marvel has been making two movies a year and will make three in 2017, including Spider-Man: Homecoming, which Marvel is producing but Sony will release. This year, Spider-Man joined the Marvel cinema universe in Captain America: Civil War.

Warner Bros. plans as many as five Fantastic Beasts films.

The Bond series doesn’t have an “extended universe,” a concept made popular by Marvel. It features one character, James Bond.

2012’s Skyfall, showed the series is capable of billion-dollar box office. It terms of number of tickets sold, Skyfall was No. 3 in series history in the U.S. market at 37.8 million, behind Thunderball and Goldfinger.

The most recent entry, SPECTRE, had worldwide box office of $880.7 million, No. 6 globally in 2015.

In the U.S. market, SPECTRE sold 23 million tickets, No. 14 in series history. On that basis, it was also the lowest since the series resumed in 1995 following a six-year hiatus.

Deadline scribes speculate about MGM, 007

logo for Deadline's pocast with Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr.

Logo for Deadline’s podcast with Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr.

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming, columnists for the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website, engage in some interesting speculation about Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Bond 25 in a new podcast.

The title is “Columns We Wished We Didn’t Write.”

In it, Bart recalls a June 9 column he wrote depicting MGM as enjoying a resurgence following its 2010 bankruptcy and ready to acquire other companies.

That was before MGM’s Ben Hur remake flopped in spectacular fashion in August.

“The question is, what does MGM want to be?” Fleming says. “Do they want to be a real studio with distribution?”

When MGM exited bankruptcy, it was a slimmed down company with no distribution operation. MGM cuts deals with other studios to co-finance and release films. Ben Hur, for example, was released by Paramount. Sony Pictures’s Columbia brand released Skyfall and SPECTRE but its contract expired with the latter.

“They do have the Bond franchise and that’s their big draw,” Fleming says. “Maybe MGM is an acquisition target for a studio that does have distribution.”

Bart, a former studio executive, speculates the other way, saying MGM could be in the market to acquire another studio. He specifically suggests Paramount, part of Viacom, would be a good a good fit. “Paramount could use a new corporate parent,” Bart says in the podcast.

Fleming also speculates about Bond 25, saying “I would imagine” Daniel Craig will return as 007 and “I would not be surprised” if the actor convinces Sam Mendes to return as director. Mendes helmed the last two Bond movies.

To be clear, there’s no hard information presented here. “We still don’t know where the James Bond film is going to end up,” Fleming says. In short, the podcast is similar to fan speculation found on 007 internet message boards.

Anyway, to listen, CLICK HERE. The portion about MGM and Bond 25 begins at about the 8:50 mark and runs to about the 13-minute mark.

Happy 94th birthday, Stan Lee

Stan Lee's cameo in Captain America: Civil War

Stan Lee’s cameo in Captain America: Civil War

Stan Lee turns 94 today.

Over the past few years, Stan’s legacy at Marvel Comics has been re-examined in books such as Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story and a detailed article in New York magazine early this year. This blog even did a modest post on the subject a year ago.

Today’s post is merely intended to wish “Stan the Man” (one of his many nicknames when he was Marvel’s editor-in-chief) a happy birthday.

Marvel was a lot more than Stan Lee. But he is one of the few survivors of the 1960s when the stories were done that laid the foundation for the Marvel Comics film universe.

That doesn’t mean Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko (another survivor), Wally Wood and others weren’t important. Their contributions were enormous (their plotting in addition to their art) and they should be better known than they are.

Still, for many fans, Stan remains endearing. He still shows up in cameos in Marvel films. Comingsoon.net said in September said Lee has filmed additional cameos in advance.

So, once more, excelsior, Stan Lee.

Carrie Fisher, icon for Baby Boomers, dies at 60

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher, an icon for Baby Boomers as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, has died at 60, according to an obituary in The New York Times.

Fisher suffered a “cardiac episode” during a London-to-Los Angeles flight on Dec. 23, the Los Angeles Times reported that day.

Fisher played Princess Leia for the first three Star Wars movies (but chapters IV, V and VI of the saga), released in 1977, 1980 and 1983. She again played the role of Leia, now a rebel general, in 2015’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. She had completed work on the untitled eighth episode, due out in December 2017, The New York Times said, citing Walt Disney Co.’s Lucasfilm unit.

In between, she emerged as writer as well as an actress. Her life was a public one. Fisher publicly discussed her bipolar disorder and addiction to cocaine. She was married briefly to singer Paul Simon.

Some of her writings, such as the novel Postcards From the Edge, were autobiographical. Fisher wrote the screenplay for the 1990 movie based on the Postcards novel.

Some of her non-Star Wars parts included a woman involved with an affair with a married man in 1989’s When Harry Met Sally.

“You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right,” Marie, Fisher’s character, would respond when her friends said she end the relationship. The line became a catch phrase.

Fisher, born Oct. 21, 1956, was exposed to entertainment publicity from an early age. She was the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. Both of Fisher’s parents were big stars at the time. Eddie Fisher later left Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor.

She became an actress herself with 1975’s Shampoo, followed by the original Star Wars (now Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

Tributes to Fisher were posted on media after her passing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays one and all

This has been the blog’s annual holiday greeting since 2011, when it was affiliated with the now-inactive (but fondly remembered) Her Majesty’s Secret Servant site.

The graphic was designed by Paul Baack, co-founder of HMSS, who also had the idea for the blog.

It’s such a great image and it’s presented here once more. Paul still reads the blog on occasion. So if he spots this, here’s a big thanks from the Spy Commander.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.

Christmas-greetings-from-HMSS

Craig’s Othello play may get a separate Broadway run

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig

The off-Broadway production of Othello, with Daniel Craig as Iago, may get a separate run on Broadway in spring 2017, the New York Post reported.

The play currently is at the New York Theatre Workshop, which it is scheduled to conclude on Jan. 18.

The Post is saying the play may come to broadway. Here’s an excerpt:

Meanwhile, Daniel Craig is eying a move to Broadway after winning raves for his Iago in the New York Theatre Workshop production of “Othello.”

Craig, sources say, initially shied away from talk about Broadway because the critics were lukewarm to him in 2013’s “Betrayal.” But he’s happy now — as is his co-star, the excellent David Oyelowo — and senses a shot at a Tony for Best Actor in a Play, if the show can get in under the Tony cut-off date, which is April 27, 2017.

Othello is produced by Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli. The Post’s Page Six gossip feature said last week that Othello is part of an effort by Broccoli to lure Craig back for Bond 25.

Craig’s schedule includes Kings, a movie about the 1990s LA riots, and Purity, a limited-run television series for the Showtime pay-cable channel.