Our latest questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

We’re not very good at answers but we certainly can generate Bond 25 questions. So let’s get on with it.

What’s up with MGM?: The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news site said in a May 26 story that there have been “no negotiations” between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and other studios concerning which one would release Bond 25.

The last four 007 films have been released by Sony Pictures. Sony’s most recent two-picture deal expired with 2015’s SPECTRE. MGM, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, doesn’t have a distribution operation.

“There’s no rush,” MGM chief Gary Barber said during a March call with investors and analysts. “We’re evaluating all of our options. We will advise on the deal when we actually make it.”

If Deadline is accurate, Barber wasn’t kidding about not being in a rush.

For now, MGM seems to be trying to develop its non-007 portfolio and to prepare itself for an initial public offering of stock to the public within the next three to five years.

The now-expired Sony deal wasn’t a good one for that studio. Sony co-financed the last two Bond movies, but only got 25 percent of the profits. It remains to be seen whether MGM can get anywhere near such terms in the future.

What’s up with Daniel Craig? By this time, people who read this blog can recite forward and backwards lists of actors (male and female) who’ve been touted as potential 007 successors.

It’s stating the obvious, but Craig hasn’t said whether he’s staying or going. Until he specifies or a successor actually is announced, Craig remains a big unknown.

When will Bond 25 come out? It’s too early to push the panic button but it’s now a real possibility it won’t be released until 2019.

The Deadline story said negotiations between MGM and other studios aren’t likely to occur “until later this year.”

You can’t release a movie until there’s somebody to release it. Whoever eventually strikes a deal with MGM will want a say in the making of Bond 25. If you provided half of the financing, wouldn’t you?

Let’s say a deal is reached in late 2016. How long would it take the partner studio to weigh in and get comfortable with MGM and Eon Productions? Even if Sony were picked again, that studio has new management, so there’d be a new cast of characters involved. Would this process take a few weeks in 2017? Or a few months?

Also, according to Deadline, “There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place.” For the moment, that would also mean securing the services of a leading man and a director.

To have a fall 2018 release, Bond 25 would need to get the creative elements nailed down by late 2017, or about 18 months from now. There’s a lot to be settled before the cameras are ready to roll on Agent 007’s next adventure.

Craig may have another non-007 project, Deadline says

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig may join a heist movie directed by Steven Soderbergh amid signs there’s little progress on Bond 25, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

The website also reported that there “no negotiations” yet what studio will distribute Bond 25. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s most recent two-picture deal with Sony Pictures expired with 2015’s SPECTRE.

Craig and Katherine Heigl “are said to be finalizing deals to join Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Logan Lucky about brothers who plan a crime during a NASCAR race in Charlotte,” the entertainment news website said.

Logan Lucky “is scheduled for a fall start date, which puts further into question the actor’s willingness to return to the Bond franchise for MGM,” wrote Deadline’s Anita Busch. Deadline said pre-production will begin this weekend during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race and the Daytona Beach, Florida-based racing series “has thrown its support behind the picture.”

Soderbergh once was attached to direct a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He quit the project in late 2011 and for a time declared himself retired from directing.

If Craig joins Logan Lucky, it adds to his growing list of non-007 projects. He’s scheduled to appear in an off-Broadway production of Othello this fall and is involved with Purity, a television limited series.

Meanwhile, Deadline said not much is happening on the Bond 25 front. Here’s an excerpt:

There have been no negotiations on where the Bond movie will land (Sony or Warner Bros. are out front on this) and although it was thought that negotiations might start after the first quarter 2016, parties are not likely to engage in negotiations until later this year. There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place. It has also been widely reported (and confirmed by Deadline) that Jamie Bell has discussed the Bond role with his Film Stars Don’t Die movie producer Barbara Broccoli (who has long produced the Bond movies).

The possibility of the 5-foot-7 Bell, 30, being a potential future 007 has been reported in a variety of outlets, including The Independent. He played the Thing in the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four.

SEQUEL: 007 movies listed by number of tickets sold

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Last year, this blog published a post about how the last eight James Bond movies performed in number of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, 1995 to present.

Since that post ran, we now have the final figures for SPECTRE. No major changes in the conclusion. Bond movies  during this period — featuring two different Bond actors, Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan — sold between 23 million and 27 million tickets each.

The one exception was Skyfall with Craig, which was much higher.

Here’s the information again, with one change. Before, we listed the movies sequentially. Here, they’re listed highest to lowest, along with the average ticket price during the year of release. The information is from the BOX OFFICE MOJO website.

Skyfall (2012): 37,842,000/average ticket price $7.96

Die Another Day (2002): 27,584,000/$5.81

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): 26,911,200/$4.59

Casino Royale (2006): 25,428,700/$6.55

The World Is Not Enough (1999): 24,853,800/$5.08

GoldenEye (1995): 24,403,900/$4.35

Quantum of Solace (2008): 23,449,600/$7.18

SPECTRE (2015): 23,001,900/$8.43

 

‘Jane Bond’ shows interest in women spies

Salt poster

Salt poster

This week’s buzz about whether actress Gillian Anderson should play a female version of James Bond caused a lot of fans to complain about click bait and political correctness.

But the media attention concerning “Jane Bond” may show something else — continuing interest in women spies.

There have been attempts at a woman spy movie series. Eon Productions, maker of the 007 films, tried to develop a spinoff movie featuring Halle Berry’s Jinx character from Die Another Day. But in the end, no movie occurred.

In 2010, Angelina Jolie starred in Salt, which had worldwide box office of $293.5 million. The film had an ending that left things open for a sequel but none has taken place. Sony Pictures is developing a television series version, Screen Daily said in February.

In 2015, the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. included Alicia Vikander as a British spy, Gaby Teller, who wasn’t a character in the original 1964-68 television series.

Thus, Solo and Illya became Solo, Illya and Gaby. Vikander got good reviews, but the movie limped home with worldwide box office of $109.9 million, pretty much killing any chance of a sequel.

On the other hand, Jennifer Garner’s Alias television series ran more than 100 episodes from 2001-2006.

In the 007 films, women spies have been a major part of the proceedings for decades.

Bond has allied himself with women agents from the Soviet Union (The Spy Who Loved Me), United States (Moonraker), China (Tomorrow Never Dies) the U.S. again (Die Another Day) and Bolivia (Quantum of Solace) . 2012’s Skyfall provided a new take on Moneypenny, in which the Naomie Harris version is initially an MI6 agent.

In these risk-adverse days, studios may want to check out properties such as the comic strip Modesty Blaise, the subject of a 1966 movie.

Anyway, we were reminded by reader Stuart Basinger that back when the film rights to Casino Royale were first acquired (years before Eon Productions was formed), producer-director Gregory Ratoff wanted to change James Bond into a woman. Ratoff wanted to cast Susan Hayward in the role. Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. worked on the project and described it in a 2012 article in Variety.

What prompted this post was a comment from a reader, @CinemaOnFire on Twitter. So, as a shoutout, we present that tweet:

UPDATE (May 25): Alyssa Rosenberg, a pop culture blogger for The Washington Post, has weighed in with an essay titled “No, a woman shouldn’t play James Bond.”  Here’s an excerpt:

If our goal is for Hollywood to create action-oriented jobs for women that will be available for decades to come, then we need franchises that are built around women. We need roles like Bond’s, or Jack Ryan’s, or Captain Kirk’s that are designed to be occupied by a rotating series of women. Borrowing Bond’s tux might be a fun fantasy. But real power means a role we don’t have to give back to the men.

Your guide to 007 click bait, or “Madness! Madness!”

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Here’s a quick summary of what we read (well, actually skimmed) so you don’t have to. After a while (say 15 minutes) it’s like the end of The Bridge On The River Kwai and thus, “Madness! Madness!”

The drive for a female James Bond: American actress Gillian Anderson, currently starring in a theatrical production of A Streetcar Named Desire, went to Twitter on May 21 to post some fan art of her playing a female 007.

“It’s Bond. Jane Bond,” she wrote. “Thanks for all the votes! (And sorry, don’t know who made poster but I love it!) #NextBond.”

Naturally, various websites wrote this up, including Time magazine, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post.

Around the same time, actress Priyanka Chopra have a magazine interview where she said she wants to play Bond.

This was chronicled in, among other places the Vulture entertainment news website (part of New York magazine), The Indian Express at least 160 others, according to a Google search.

Evidently, if you’re an actor with sufficient credits and a fan base willing to tweet up a storm, you, too, can have a story written about yourself as a potental James Bond.

In the drive for clicks, the tabloid New York Post decided to push back against the idea with an article titled “Why a Woman Can’t Play James Bond.”

Finally, a sane voice, you might conclude. However, this article isn’t comfort food for traditional 007 fans. Here’s how it ends:

So please, Hollywood, write more spy movies and TV shows for women. After all, the first two seasons of Jennifer Garner’s “Alias” were more exciting and creative than any James Bond movie since “Goldeneye.” Or have a woman play a gender-neutral character like the driving force of “Mission Impossible.” The less Tom Cruise, the better.

But don’t rely on a tired 54-year-old franchise to drive home your point. Your only aim should be making a spy movie that kicks James Bond’s ass.

Pretend you’re the casting director: The U.K. tabloid Daily Mail helped ramp up #NextBond fever last week with a story saying Daniel Craig had definitely quit the role despite lack of official confirmation.

The publication’s sister paper, The Mail on Sunday, decided to stir things up more by having a “Bond-off” about potential successors. It was primarily an exercise in showing off its staff’s expertise in Photoshop, by putting the heads of the usual suspects atop the bodies of Craig and previous 007 actors.

“Across the pond,” another tabloid, New York’s Daily News, did a variation on the same idea, albeit with no showing off of Photoshop skills.

Did Jim Steranko tease a new SHIELD project?

Answer: Hard to say. But we engaged the talented writer-artist during his weekly question and answer session on Twitter.

For those unfamiliar, Steranko wrote and drew Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD for Marvel from 1966 to 1968 and it created quite a stir. Here’s how the Sunday exchange went:

If something is in the pipeline, we eagerly await to see the results.

Limbo for the serious James Bond fan Part II

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Last week’s fuss/buzz/kerfuffle (take your choice) about whether Daniel Craig has quit or not as James Bond unleashed a heat, if not much light about what’s next for the film 007.

What follows are some observations until there’s some real news to chew on.

Both the Daily Mail and BBC were opaque: There were dueling media accounts last week by the Daily Mail (which said Craig quit and turned down 68 million British pounds to do two more movies) and the BBC (which said Craig hadn’t quit and a decision wouldn’t be made for “a while.”).

For many, the decision which to believe was easy. The BBC is a prestigious media outlet while the Daily Mail (or Daily Fail, according to its critics) is a sloppy U.K. tabloid.

Still, both relied on unidentified sources of information. The Daily Mail cited “insiders,” including “one LA film source.” The BBC cited “authoritative Bond sources” (Barbara Broccoli? Michael G. Wilson? An Eon publicist?).

In a lot of instances, you have to not identify sources to break a story. But there’s the drawback that, in the end, the reader has to trust the outlet. In this case, the two outlets — one prestigious, the other not — are equally opaque in how they obtained their information.

Tabloids have been right in the past: Tabloids have been correct about Bond news in the past. That doesn’t mean each new story — such as last week’s Daily Mail story about Craig — should get an automatic pass. But people do tend to forget when their information has turned out to be right.

One such story occurred four years ago when the Daily Mail insisted that Naomie Harris was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. The initial publicity said she was playing an MI6 agent named Eve.

Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny. The MI6 James Bond website ran a story in January 2012 that amplified that point.

Although little has been revealed about her Bond Girl role in the upcoming “Skyfall”, a lot of talk has been generated by the casting of Naomie Harris. Tabloids ran wild with speculation that the actress would be playing Miss Moneypenny, but Harris has finally put that story to bed.

(snip)

Despite Harris categorically stating in the interview that she will not be playing Moneypenny in the film, one tuned-out sub editor at the Mail still managed to slip the falsehood into her unrelated travel report from the Maldives, printed in the same issue of the newspaper. (emphasis added)

Months later, the Daily Mail was proven to be correct.

Again, the Daily Mail has a bad journalistic reputation. But, for some reason, it has had 007 scoops proven correct. Many of them were reported by Baz Bamigboye, but he hasn’t been on the Bond beat since late 2014. Skepticism is understandable. Still, all sorts of stories about both Skyfall and SPECTRE were proven correct.

People, incorrectly, believe something isn’t official until there’s a press release: Contracts can be signed and commitments made — all very official, and legally binding — before there’s a public announcement.

Example: Ford Motor Co. hired Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally as its new chief executive officer on Friday, Sept. 1, 2006. Mulally signed his contract on that date. His hiring, however wasn’t announced until four days later, Tuesday, Sept. 5, the day after the U.S. Labor Day holiday. The Sept. 1 date didn’t become public until a subsequent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about terms of the new CEO’s contract.

In other words, Mulally was legally Ford’s CEO for four days before the company informed the public. That’s as official as it gets. A press release is the end of the process and not the beginning.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers