Bond-related emoji reappear on Twitter

No Time to Die poster

James Bond-related emoji have reappeared on Twitter.

The hashtag #BondJamesBond and #JamesBond create a 007 logo to accompany it. The hashtag #NoTimeToDie gets you an Aston Martin DB5 emoji.

That doesn’t happen by accident. In this case, studios pay for the privilege (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists Releasing and Universal with this example).

Such emojis were seen on Twitter early this year ahead of No Time to Die’s original April release date. After the movie was delayed until November, the emojis went away as well.

Naturally, this development did not go unnoticed by Bond fans. There’s speculation that another No Time to Die trailer is ready to pop and the 25th Bond film will make that November release date.

As usual, we’ll see.

Chadwick Boseman dies

Black Panther poster

Chadwick Boseman, who brought to life real-life figures such as Jackie Robinson to life as well as the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby character Black Panther, has died at 43, according to The Associated Press.

Boseman played Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42 (referring to Robinson’s uniform number), James Brown in Get on Up (2014) and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017).

The actor also played the title character in Black Panther (2018). He had earlier played the part in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and did an encore in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Black Panther was the first Marvel Studios film to receive a Best Picture nomination. It was seen as a sign that comic book-based movies could reach beyond their humble origins.

When the film came out in 2018, it had a big impact. Black audience members embraced the phrase “Wakanda Forever!”

T’Challa, the Black Panther, was introduced in 1966 in an issue of the Fantastic Four. The character was the head of an African country with advanced technology. Black Panther ever since has been one of the major characters of Marvel Comics.

News of Boseman’s death was shocking to fans. The actor was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, AP reported.

UPDATE (Aug. 29): Here is a tweet on Chadwick Boseman’s Twitter feed announcing his death:

 

Mixed tea leaves for No Time to Die

New No Time to Die poster

Let’s face it. James Bond film fans are anxious. They want to know if No Time to Die will make its current November release date.

The tea leaves are a bit mixed.

Good news! Tenet is moving full speed ahead!

Director Christopher Nolan’s new spy-fi/sci-fi film is rolling out in various markets.

Tenet is billed as the movie that can save movie theaters amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Famously, Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise made a point of letting everybody know he was watching Tenet in a theater.

So if Tenet can do it, can’t No Time to Die?

Bad news! The King’s Man has been delayed to early 2021

The King’s Man, the prequel to the first two Kingsman films, which was delayed once already, now won’t be out until February 2021.

The prequel stars Ralph Fiennes, who played M at the end of Skyfall and in SPECTRE and No Time to Die. It tells the story of the earliest days of the Kingsman organization.

The delay for The King’s Man shows not all studios are enthusiastic about releasing a movie in the fall of 2020.

As usual, we’ll see.

Happy 90th birthday, Sean Connery

Sean Connery in a 1960s 007 publicity still

Adapted and expanded from a 2011 post.

Sean Connery celebrates his 90th birthday today. There’s little more than needs to be said about Connery’s contributions to the James Bond film series.

Terence Young, director of three of the first four Bond movies, famously said the three reasons that 007 films took off were, “Sean Connery, Sean Connery and Sean Connery.” Young also tutored Connery in the ways of Bond.

Still, the blog can’t help but wonder if Connery had even the slightest hint of what was about to happen to him after being cast as Bond.

The answer is probably not. Who could?

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were a couple of journeymen producers. Terence Young was a journeyman director. Richard Maibaum, a journeyman screenwriter and occasional producer.

Ian Fleming had written some novels that had gotten attention, including in 1961 when Life magazine listed the author’s From Russia With Love as one of then-President John F. Kennedy’s favorite novels.

Also in 1961, United Artists announced it intended to start a film series based on the novels. Connery would end up with a $16,800 paycheck for the first film, Dr. No. Hardly the makings of a phenomenon.

Life can change in an instant. That was certainly true of a Scot actor who was starting to make an impression with audiences.

Things were never quite the same after that. Connery has been retired for almost two decades. His Bond films perhaps aren’t seen with the same enthusiasm by modern audiences. So it goes.

Then again, without Connery’s Bond films, would there even be a 21st century Bond series?

Like with much of the 1960s spy craze, the Connery 007 films caught lightning in a bottle. Bond was able to remain relevant after Connery’s departure. But you can argue that Connery provided the foundation that others followed.

Broccoli is gone. Saltzman is gone. Young is gone. Maibaum is gone. Even one of Connery’s successors, Roger Moore, is gone. United Artists was bought by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1981. UA exists pretty much only on paper today.

Connery, in retirement, remains.

Happy birthday, Sir Sean.

Tenet reviews note film’s James Bond vibe

Tenet poster

A lot is riding on Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s combination spy-fi and sci-fi movie. It will be a test whether people are willing to return to movie theaters amid the continuing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Critics have now had a look and writing reviews. Some note how director Nolan, a Bond fan, channels 007 in the film.

What follows are non-spoiler excerpts.

DANNY LEIGH, FINANCIAL TIMES: “Bond gets a subscription to New Scientist. For all the cryptic packaging, Tenet is really an action spy movie of the oldest school, built on supervillains, plutonium and holiday brochure photography in world tour locations.”

LESLIE FELPERIN, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “Altogether, it makes for a chilly, cerebral film — easy to admire, especially since it’s so rich in audacity and originality, but almost impossible to love, lacking as it is in a certain humanity.”

JESSICA KIANG, NEW YORK TIMES: “(Tenet star John David) Washington is basically James Bond, forward and backward, a kind of 00700, right down to the occasional wry one-liner. And if it takes megastar charisma to be able to memorably inhabit so vaporous a role, he is also blessed to be playing off an equally unflappable (Robert) Pattinson.”

JAMES MOTTRAM, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST: “Laced with references to theoretical physics, Tenet comes across like a tentpole movie with a PhD. Fan forums will be unpicking the intricacies of the plot for years to come, while Nolan’s narrative daring leaves other spy movies looking infantile.”

GUY LODGE, VARIETY: “Like ‘Inception,’ which used the essential language of the heist film as an organizing structure for Nolan’s peculiar fixations of chronology and consciousness, “Tenet” tricks out the spy thriller with expanded science-fiction parameters to return to those pet themes.”

Bond 25 questions: Still on track for November?

No Time to Die teaser poster

There hasn’t been a lot of news on the No Time to Die front. But there has been enough to get fans interested. As usual, the blog has questions.

No Time to Die Licensees are moving forward. Doesn’t that mean that No Time to Die has to be coming out in November, as scheduled?

That depends on whether you think the licensees are in the loop or not.

But yes, we have new NTTD-based Funko Pops and two limited-edition Aston Martin cars based on the 25th James Bond film coming out.

What do you make of the comments by an MGM executive on a recent investor call?

Personally, I think Christopher Brearton, the company’s chief operating officer, is hedging his bets.

On the one hand, he said Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “currently” has three films scheduled for 2020, including No Time to Die in November.

On the other hand, he also said: “We continue to monitor and adjust the timing of our remaining 2020 (film) slate.”

But we’ll see.

Will No Time to Die come out on premium video on demand (PVOD)?

It’s one thing to bring out Bill & Ted Face the Music (from MGM’s Orion brand) on PVOD. It’s another to bring out a big “tentpole” movie like No Time to Die.

Walt Disney Co. is going the PVOD route with Mulan, another big movie. But Disney doesn’t have a lot of company right now.

Brearton said “great movies” can “be monetized” in a number of ways. But he certainly didn’t say No Time to Die would go the PVOD route. He spoke more generally about using theaters and PVOD in the near term for films.

MGM still lists No Time to Die as November release

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, at least for now, is still listing No Time to Die as a November release.

“We continue to monitor and adjust the timing of our remaining 2020 (film) slate,” Christopher Brearton, the company’s chief operating officer, said on an investor call earlier this month.

Brearton listed three releases with 2020 dates: Bill & Ted Face the Music (coming out in theaters and premium video on demand) late this month; Candyman, released through Universal, in October; and No Time to Die in November.

No Time to Die originally was slated to come out in April but was delayed to November because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Movie theaters have been slow to reopen amid the virus.

“The theatrical marketplace is in flux,” the executive said. “There’s great uncertainty about what the near term holds for access and attendance.”

Brearton said MGM still is optimistic about theatrical distribution in the long run. The studio may utilize a mix of theaters and PVOD to distribute movies in the near term, he said.

No Time to Die is being released by United Artists Releasing, co-owned by MGM and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

Aston Martin introduces 2 No Time to Die cars

Aston Martin’s two limited-edition models for No Time to Die

Aston Martin is bringing out two limited-edition special models because of No Time to Die.

The U.K.-based company said it’s introducing the following:

–The “Vantage 007 Edition, inspired by the original Aston Martin V8 which made its 007 debut in The Living Daylights in 1987 and also features in No Time to Die.”

Recommended retail price: ÂŁ161,000 (about $211,000).

— The DBS Superleggera, which is “limited to just 25 production cars available worldwide and featuring the same specification as the muscular DBS Superleggera featured in the upcoming film, the car has a suitably menacing road presence.”

Recommended retail price: ÂŁ279,025 (about $365,700).

Both are available for purchase beginning today. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2021. No Time to Die is scheduled to reach theaters in November.

About that Bernard Lee/Robert Brown M thing

Portrait of the Bernard Lee M in The World Is Not Enough. Thanks to Ben Williams.

One of the ongoing debates in James Bond fandom is whether Bernard Lee’s M (1962-79) is the same as Robert Brown’s M (1983-89).

The answer: You can argue they are the same or they are different characters, with Brown’s M being Admiral Hargreaves from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

The available evidence is, at best, inconclusive.

Background: Bernard Lee played Sir Miles Messervy for the first 11 James Bond films.

In Ian Fleming’s novels, the character name was not revealed until Ian Fleming’s final Bond book, The Man With the Golden Gun. “Miles” was mentioned briefly by General Gogol in The Spy Who Loved Me movie.

Lee died in January 1981. He wasn’t available to participate in the production of For Your Eyes Only. In that film, it was stated that M was on leave and that the chief of staff was running operations.

Octopussy script: In the first draft by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, dated June 10, 1982, there isn’t a hint that M is another person.

M’S VOICE
(over intercom)
Stop fishing for compliments, Double-O-Seven, and get in here.

(snip)
M’S OFFICE – M MINISTER FANNING
as BOND enters. Fanning is a scholarly looking slightly pudgy man in his late thirties. SOTHEBY CATALOGUE and the FABERGE EGG lie on M’s desk

The rest of the scene is more or less what we got in the 1983 movie. Again, there was no hint that M was a different character than in the first 11 movies.

From that, you can conclude that a simple change in casting took place. Bernard Lee died. Robert Brown replaced him. But the character is the same.

Judi Dench’s M lectures Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond with the portrait of Bernard Lee’s M in the background.

However, in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, things may have changed.

In the pre-titles sequence, there is an explosion at MI6 headquarters in London. British Intelligence is forced to regroup at another headquarters in Scotland.

The art department (Peter Lamont? One of his deputies? One of the lowest ranking blokes?) included a portrait of Bernard Lee’s M.

Was this a “retcon,” or retroactive change in continuity?

There are certainly signs that the view of Lee/M and Brown/M being separate characters has taken hold with many fans. The MI6 James Bond website conducted a vote on Twitter this weekend, with the view that they are different characters winning the day.

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Five years later: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

Five years after the 2015 movie of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. came out, my social media inbox is pretty full about the Guy Ritchie-directed film.

It’s a mixed bag. I know some people who loved it. These folks liked the updated take on Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant).

Within that group, there was a sigh of relief the movie didn’t end up like Wild Wild West (1999) and I Spy (2002) — other films based on 1960s spy shows.

I know others who hated it.

With that group, there’s criticism about the lack of a secret headquarters, badges (to access the secret headquarters) and cool gadgets. It’s not U.N.C.L.E., just something with that name.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten a few questions about my own opinion. For me, despite changing Solo’s backstory, the Henry Cavill version of Solo is more or less where Robert Vaughn’s original was.

The more radical change was Armie Hammer’s Kuryakin. The 2015 movie suggests some serious mental issues. That didn’t stop David McCallum from endorsing the film in a 2015 interview with Fox News.

My main complaint? The filmmakers could have given us more of Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme. Guy Ritchie wanted to avoid that, but a few notes of the original theme were sneaked into the film.

Some original fans complain about Hugh Grant’s Waverly. They cite how much younger Grant was compared with Leo G. Carroll’s Waverly. The thing is, the original Waverly was very manipulative, a trait that Grant’s Waverly had.

One footnote: The 2015 movie worked in one of Ian Fleming’s ideas from October 1962 (namely that Solo liked to cook). So there’s that.

In any event, I personally was surprised by the amount of social media chatter about the fifth anniversary of the movie.

Do I think there will ever be a sequel? I doubt it. I’ll take what I can get, though.