Variety discusses MGM, Annapurna tensions about Bond 25

Annapurna logo that won’t be seen on Bond 25, according to Variety

Variety has a story today providing an update about the financial challenges facing Annapurna Pictures. It includes a passage indicating Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, partners in a joint venture that releases movies in the U.S., have had some tensions concerning Bond 25.

Quick recap: MGM exited bankruptcy in 2010 without its own distribution operation. It cut a series of deals with other, bigger studios for distribution. Annapurna, meanwhile, started distributing films. MGM and Annapurna then formed a joint venture in fall 2017 to release each other’s movies in the U.S.

In 2018, it was announced the joint venture would handle Bond 25 in North America while Universal would perform international distribution. No details were released concerning how the studios would finance the movie. The past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, were co-financed by MGM and Sony Pictures.

Earlier this year, the joint venture was given the name United Artists Releasing.

With that background in mind, this passage in the Variety story caught the blog’s eye: “Despite dipping into Annapurna’s deep pockets to roll out the upcoming 25th installment in the James Bond spy series…Annapurna would not be allowed” to show its logo on the next 007 film. According to Variety, an MGM executive “would bark at journalists” for including a mention of Annapurna.

What’s more, according to the story, Annapurna’s movie-releasing team now, essentially works for United Artists Releasing.

UPDATE: A peculiar Craig interview is yanked

Daniel Craig

(UPDATE, March 11) : The supposed interview has been taken down from the Beyond site. If you click on the link below, you get a “Page not found” message. Apparently it was even more peculiar than it seemed this weekend.

Two theories readers have passed on: 1) It was a fake from the start. 2) It was an interview that was supposed to be embargoed until a later date. Admittedly, I have no idea.

UPDATE II (7 p.m., New York time, March 11): The James Bond MI6 website examined the quotes in the now-withdrawn story and matches them up against previous interviews. The MI6 story notes other fishy elements.

(ORIGINAL POST, March 10): A peculiar interview with Daniel Craig was published online by Beyond magazine.

Why describe it as peculiar? In the text, it says, “Cameras began rolling on Bond 25 earlier this year.”

Bond 25 had an announced start date of March 4 — just six days ago. And that was before the release date was pushed back to April 2020 and it emerged that Scott Z. Burns was spending four weeks doing a rewrite of the script.

So what does “earlier this year” mean exactly? It’s hard to know reading the story.

Meanwhile, Craig appears to say that Bond 25 will really, really will be his finale.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” Craig says in the interview.

It’s also clear that scribe Sarah Freeman is sympathetic to Craig. “On set, it’s now hard to imagine Bond being played by anyone else.”

Again, it makes it sound as if Craig was interviewed during Bond 25 filming. And there’s this passage toward the end:

And with that he’s off. Back to filming his final Bond.

 

007 in New York exhibition opens

Ken Adam sketches shown at Spyscape in New York (Photo courtesy of Gary J. Firuta)

This weekend, the Driven: 007 x Spyscape, a James Bond exhibition opened up in New York.

The blog couldn’t make it for real-life reasons. However Gary J. Firuta, a friend of the blog, was present and sent some photographs.

Spyscape is a New York City spy museum. The Driven: 007 x  Spyscape exhibit was intended to provide “a different perspective in this brand new exhibition.”

“The multi-sensory experience explores the creative process behind the 007 movies while revealing the secrets of James Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5.”

The exhibit takes up five rooms at Spyscape. Over the past two weeks, a number of 007 fan sites indicated they’d be present for this weekend.

The exhibit’s debut came a little more than a month before the beginning of principal photography of Bond 25.

Robert Sellers coming out with a Broccoli-Saltzman book

Ian Fleming, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli

Robert Sellers, the author of The Battle for Bond, a book about the behind-the-scenes conflict concerning Thunderball, is coming out with a new book about Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the co-founders of Eon Productions.

There is a listing on the U.K. site of Amazon for When Harry Met Cubby: The Story of the James Bond Producers.

According to the listing, the book will be out in September. Here’s part of the description:

Both men were of such contrasting personalities that relations between them often span out of control, to such an extent that they not only fell out with their star, Sean Connery, but ultimately with each other. Loved and hated in equal measure, respected and feared by their contemporaries, few movie people have loomed as large over the industry as Broccoli and Saltzman, yet tragically they would meet very different ends.

During the 1960s heydey of the Bond film series, Broccoli and Saltzman took the industry by storm as 007 became a phenomenon.

In the ensuing decades, a narrative took hold of Saltzman being the more volatile of the two. Some fans (via social media) claim that Saltzman wasn’t really a producer.

On the other hand, other accounts indicate that Saltzman had a major impact on Bond film stories. Richard Maibaum had been a Broccoli man (going back to the producer’s partnership with Irving Allen). Saltzman brought in others (such as Len Deighton, Paul Dehn and John Hopkins) to revise Maibaum’s work.

Regardless, the blog’s guess is the new Sellers book will bring new insights to an old partnership that finally ruptured in the mid-1970s.

Norway shoot to be part of B25’s pre-title sequence

Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of Bond 25

The Bond 25 sequence to be filmed in Norway will be part of the film’s pre-titles sequence, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, wrote in a short item Thursday night that was part of his weekly column.

Director Cary Fukunaga “and a small crew” will be part of the shoot at a frozen lake, according to item. The crew wants to complete the sequence before the lake thaws, the scribe said.

Bamigboye has a record of Bond scoops ultimately being proven as correct.

Bamigboye also wrote that Danny Boyle, Bond 25’s original director, “had wanted to film an iced-over lake in Canada.” Boyle departed the project in August over “creative differences.” That led to the hiring of Fukunaga.

The short item also says Bond 25 will also be filmed in Jamaica.

Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the first drafts of his 007 novels in Jamaica in the winter before returning to London to rewrite and revise. The first 007 film, 1962’s Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica, where the novel was set.

(UPDATE, March 8): Variety has a story about Bond 25’s planned Italian shoot and says that sequence will be the film’s pre-titles sequence. Well, we shall see what we shall see.

Eon appears to confirm B25 title isn’t Shatterhand

Eon Productions appeared to officially confirm that Shatterhand really isn’t (no way, no how) the title for Bond 25.

Eon’s official James Bond Instagram account sent out a photo of a Barbara Broccoli autograph where the Eon boss wrote “it’s not” above the word Shatterhand.

That photo has been making the rounds this week. But until today, no official outlet of Eon has joined in on that.

This blog is one of the few fan sites that keeps track of what Eon says and how it compares to later events. On occasion, Eon has denied things it knew to be true (Ben Whishaw playing Q in Skyfall, John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and 25, at least initially.)

However, if Shatterhand is revealed to be Bond 25’s title, this is a really, really cynical movie. I don’t think Eon operates on that level.

About that killing James Bond off in Bond 25 thing

Danny Boyle, a sort of spectre over Bond 25.

Some time back, it seemed the memory of Danny Boyle, briefly the director of Bond 25, had dissipated. But, for some reason, that memory is hanging around like a spectre that won’t leave a haunted house.

The catalyst of this was a story in the Daily Star proclaiming that Boyle had gotten the boot because he wanted to kill off 007 in his version of Bond 25. The story got picked up and Bond fans were aghast about it.

The thing is, this wasn’t the first time — not by a long shot — that this notion had made the rounds. The Playlist’s Feb. 16 story about the hiring of Scott Z. Burns as a Bond “script doctor” also alluded to this idea. That piece said “there were rumors that Boyle wanted to kill Bond in the end…and this was a bone of contention. Having heard about the ending of the current, non-Burns version of the script (which I can’t reveal), I can say there’s likely some truth to that rumor. ”

Of course, the idea goes even further back. The Sun, in an August 2018 story, had it the other way around — that Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig wanted to kill Bond off but Boyle didn’t.

It makes your head hurt either way.

In 2017, Eon had spent months developing a story by long-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. But, as first reported by Deadline: Hollywood in February 2018, Boyle and his screenwriter John Hodge made a pitch that intrigued Eon.

Suddenly, the Purvis and Wade story seemed expendable.

Three months later in May 2018, Eon announced that Boyle was onboard and Hodge was writing the movie. Another three months later, Boyle and Hodge were gone.

Now, if Boyle wanted to kill Bond off, when did he present that idea? During the pitch? In a treatment by Hodge? When Hodge turned in his first draft? Still later? (“Oh by the way, we’ve got to kill Bond off.”)

If Broccoli and Craig wanted to kill Bond off, when did they present that notion to Boyle? When they were having their pitch meetings? After Hodge did his script or….well, you get the idea. Killing off James Bond would be a big deal. You would think it would have happened early in the discussions. If it was deal killer (which you’d think it would be) it’d be something to resolve right away. Oh well…..