SPECTRE’s Oscar campaign gets underway


Sony Pictures has kicked off its campaign for promoting SPECTRE for Oscars.

If you CLICK HERE, you’ll see a Sony website aimed at members of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Scientists who nominate and vote on the Oscars.

Sony’s website lists “for your consideration” basically all the major SPECTRE cast and crew members. Among them: Daniel Craig for Best Actor; Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Dave Bautista and Andrew Scott for Best Supporting Actor; and Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris and Monica Bellucci for Best Supporting Actress.

One change of note, compared with Skyfall’s Oscar campaign. Here, Sony suggests SPECTRE’s scribes of John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth as worth of “Best Original Screenplay” consideration.

Three years ago, Logan, Purvis and Wade were promoted for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Skyfall.

Skyfall ended up with five nominations, the most for any Bond film. It won two, including Best Song.

Sony’s contract to distribute Bond movies for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expires with SPECTRE. MGM will either reach a new agreement with Sony or sign with another studio.

A shout out to “Gustav Graves” on the message board of the MI6 James Bond website for pointing out the website.

Christopher McQuarrie to work on Mission: Impossible 6

Christopher McQuarrie, the scripter-director of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, will work on the next film in the Tom Cruise M:I series. McQuarrie, however, didn’t specify whether what job(s) he’d have on the new movie.

Here’s the tweet that McQuarrie posted on Monday:

It’s not a surprise McQuarrie put out the news on Twitter. He provided a number of updates on the social media outlet about M:I Rogue Nation. If McQuarrie directs M:I 6, it would be the first time a director helmed two films in the series, which began in 1996.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation generated worldwide box office exceeding $680 million, including $195 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.

UPDATE: The Hollywood Report, citing sources it didn’t identify, SAYS IN THIS STORY that McQuarrie will “write, direct and produce” the movie.

Our final SPECTRE accuracy checklist

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE has been out since Oct. 26, so we decided to do one final checklist of the accuracy of various reports about the 24th James Bond film.

Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny would be “more of a sidekick” as reported by Baz Bamigboye in the Daily Mail in September 2013.

The scribe wrote that, “Director Sam Mendes, Craig, and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are all big fans of Naomie’s and don’t want her to be too desk-bound, as other Moneypennys have been.”

In the climax of the movie, Moneypenny, M (Ralph Fiennes) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) do assist Bond and at personal risk. Sidekick is too strong a word, but Harris certainly wasn’t desk-bound. Check.

Christoph Waltz would play Blofeld.  The Mail on Sunday, a sister publication to the Daily Mail, REPORTED LATER IN NOVEMBER 2014 that Waltz would play Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the new movie but be announced as portraying “an unknown character called Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who acted as a father figure to Bond.”

Waltz denied it. But it was true. Check.

–Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, not originally part of the crew, were brought back as writers. The Daily Mail’s Bamigboye reported that in JUNE 2014. It was confirmed in December 2014, at a media event where the title of the movie was disclosed. Check.

–David Bautista would play the movie’s henchman: First reported in LATINO REVIEW in October 2014. Check.

–Hoyte van Hoytema would be the director of photography: This was reported on the evening of Sept. 16, 2014, ON THE HITFIX WEBSITE and the morning of Sept. 17, 2014 at JAMES BOND MAGASINET, a Norwegian 007 publication. Check.

–Hilary Swank would be in the cast: The Independent, IN A NOVEMBER 2014 STORY</a>, said, “Recently, the web has spawned wild rumours that she will be the next Bond girl, starring opposite Daniel Craig in the forthcoming Sam Mendes-directed 007 film.”  Didn’t happen.

–Monica Bellucci would be in the cast: The possibility was mentioned in passing  IN A DEC. 2, 2014 POST ON THE DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD WEBSITE</a>. Bellucci’s participation in the movie was announced two days later. Check.

For earlier examples, CLICK HERE for a Dec. 5, 2014 post on this blog.


SPECTRE global box office at about $750 million

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE’s worldwide box office is now at about $750 million, according to a tweet by Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie ticket sales.

The 24th James Bond film has been out since Oct. 26, when it premiered in the U.K.

SPECTRE added an estimated $12.8 million to its U.S.-Canada box office this weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

The 007 adventure, after four weekends in release in the U.S. and Canada, has generated about $176 million in ticket sales in the region.

The results for the Nov. 27-28 weekend — part of a long holiday weekend in the U.S. — represented only a 15 percent decline from the previous weekend’s $15 million. A decline of 50 percent is considered normal.

SPECTRE was No. 4 for the weekend behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the animated movie The Good Dinosaur and Creed.

Skyfall, the previous 007 film, had a worldwide box office of $1.11 billion, including $304.4 million in the U.S. and Canada.

SPECTRE has sold an estimated 20.4 million tickets in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s line with with most 007 films of the past 20 years, which sold between 23.4 million and 27.6 million each.

The one exception was Skyfall, which sold 37.8 million tickets in the region. That was the most for a Bond film in decades. You Only Live Twice sold 35.9 million tickets in the U.S. and Canada in 1967.

Here’s the tweet from Exhibitor Relations. Meanwhile, a bit later, Box Office Mojo came out with a figure of $749.6 million.:

UPDATE (Nov. 30) — The final SPECTRE figure for the Nov. 27-29 weekend was $12.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo.


Does SPECTRE have too much humor? Not really

Cover art for a North by Northwest Blu Ray release

Cover art for a North by Northwest Blu Ray release

A recurring criticism of SPECTRE is that the 24th James Bond film engages in too much “Roger Moore humor.”

This trope came up repeatedly. (Trust us, this blog surveyed a lot of reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.) Yet, in a lot of ways, SPECTRE’s humor content was closer to “Alfred Hitchock-Ernest Lehman humor,” as realized in the 1959 movie North by Northwest.

Without going into too much detail, North by Northwest concerns the adventures of New York advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), who suddenly finds himself in the midst of a Cold War adventure involving spies from all sides.

Sounds like very serious stuff. And it is. But there’s also some humor, similar to SPECTRE.

SLAPSTICK: In SPECTRE, the main example of slapstick humor involves a hapless driver of a Fiat in Rome, with Bond (Daniel Craig) tailgating him while trying to evade Hinx (Dave Bautista). The Fiat driver eventually touches (slightly) a post, causing his air bag to deploy.

In North by Northwest, Thornhill has been forced to drink an entire fifth of Bourbon by the lackeys of lead villain Vandamm (James Mas0n). The thugs intend to make it look like Thornhill had a fatal auto accident while drunk. But Thornhills revives enough to drive off. At one point, two of his car’s four wheels are over a cliff. In a closeup, Grant looks at the camera while his character is drunk and not entirely sure what’s going on.

MORE SUBTLE HUMOR: In SPECTRE, Bond has amusing exchanges with M (Ralph Fiennes) and Q (Ben Whishaw).

In North by Northwest, Thornhill — who finally knows everything — gets away from his “American Intelligence” minder the Professor (Leo G. Carroll). He gets out of his own hospital room and enters the room of a woman patient.

The woman patient, while putting on her glasses, says, “Stop!”

Grant’s Thornhill replies, “I’m sorry…” The woman patient, her glasses now on and realizing what she sees, replies, “Stop….”

“Uh, uh, uh,” Thornhill says, wagging his finger. He then ducks out of the room.

In a 2009 post, this blog argued that North by Northwest provided the blueprint for 1960s spy entertainment. SPECTRE is an attempt to replicate that, as well as the “classic” Bond film style, while including some of the drama of 21st century Daniel Craig 007 movies.

SPECTRE has its faults. This blog’s review, while liking the film overall, cited the “reveal,” the length and the last third of the film as demerits. Still, SPECTRE doen’t remotely resemble a comedy, as some critics seemed to think it did.  It’s an attempt, as we’ve said before, of blending “classic” and Craig-style Bond.

And it’s humor content is comparable to what Hitchcock liked to introduce in some of his films. SPECTRE isn’t up to the standards of North by Northwest. That’s still a nice standard to shoot for.


A few questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

As SPECTRE continues its theatrical run, questions emerge about Bond 25.

In November 2012, after the release of Skyfall, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that John Logan had been signed to write Bond 24 and Bond 25. So far, nothing nearly that specific has emerged. Barbara Broccoli, co-boss of Eon Productions, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH 20 MINUTEN from Nov. 16 (text is in German) talked about work on Bond resuming “in the spring.”

With that in mind, here are some questions.

What happened to Daniel Craig being signed for Bond 25? Three years ago, the ACTOR TOLD ROLLING STONE, “I’ve agreed to do a couple more, but let’s see how this one (Skyfall) does, because business is business and if the shit goes down, I’ve got a contract that somebody will happily wipe their ass with.” (emphasis added)

Fans at the time read that as meaning Craig had a contract for two more films. In interviews done days after SPECTRE completed production, the storyline was different.

Craig told TIME OUT LONDON and ESQUIRE he didn’t know if he’d do another Bond film after SPECTRE.  Meanwhile, Michael G. Wilson, the other Eon co-chief, SAID IN THIS VIDEO that Craig isn’t under contract although he expects the actor to return for Bond 25.

Will any John Logan story elements be used in Bond 25? Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and SPECTRE, said in an April 2014 interview with U.S. television host Charlie Rose that the story originally was envisioned as a two-movie arc.

But Mendes said a condition of his return to SPECTRE was the story had to be self contained. That confirmed a FEBRUARY 2013 STORY by Baz Bamigboye in the Daily Mail that the two-part movie idea had been eliminated.

It’s not known how much work, if any, Logan did on Bond 25 after the change in plan. Wilson, in the same video where he commented on Craig’s status, said Eon doesn’t have a script, an idea or even a title for Bond 25.

Who will direct Bond 25? Sam Mendes said after Skyfall he wouldn’t return. He recanted and did SPECTRE. He made the following comment IN AN INTERVIEW WITH DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD, that people have interpreted as he’s really, really not coming back to Bond again.

The pronouncements after the last movie were taken seriously and I then had to undo them when I agreed to make this movie. Without giving too much away, the difference here for me is, this movie (SPECTRE) draws together all four of Daniel’s movies into one final story, and he completes a journey. That wasn’t the case last time. There is a sense of completeness that wasn’t there at the end of Skyfall, and that’s what makes this feel different. It feels like there’s a rightness to it, that I have finished a journey.

If that’s really the case, who fills the Bond 25 director’s chair? Some fans would like two-time director Martin Campbell, 72, to return for an encore. He’s done TV work since the 2011 superhero movie Green Lantern, according to his IMDB.COM ENTRY. Meanwhile, Barbara Broccoli has said Eon doesn’t hire “journeymen” directors. So will another “auteur” like Mendes get the job?

The Incredible World of James Bond’s 50th

Thunderball British quad that was auctioned this month

Thunderball British quad that was auctioned this month

This post is both to wish readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day and to note the 50th anniversary of The Incredible World of James Bond.

Incredible World first aired Nov. 26, 1965, in the United States. NBC pre-empted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to air the special, which reviewed the first three 007 movies and promoted the upcoming Thunderball, due out the following month.

In the 21st century, business types would call this “synergy.” U.N.C.L.E. was at its peak of ratings. Bond was at his peak of popularity. Even though 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had once tried to stop production of U.N.C.L.E., putting the Bond special in U.N.C.L.E.’s time slot made perfect business sense.

For this blog, there’s also a personal note. Incredible World was how the Spy Commnader first discovered 007.

Originally, Sean Connery was to host the special but he pulled out at the last minute. As a replacement, character actor Alexander Scourby was hired to narrate.

Scourby (1913-1985) had already acted as a narrator on other documentaries. He was blessed with a pleasant sounding, but firm, voice that conveyed authority. He was perfect for the project.

Had Connery gone through with it, Incredible World might have seemed like a cheesy infomercial (though the term hadn’t been coined yet). Scourby gave Incredible World a sense of heft, perhaps more than it actually deserved. It came across as a documentary, not a promotional vehicle (which it also was).

The narration spoken by Scourby covered both the movies and Ian Fleming’s novels, including a sequence providing a biography of Bond taken from the obituary chapter of You Only Live Twice. In short, Incredible World was the perfect vehicle to entice even more new followers for the exploits of agent 007.

So, Happy Thanksgiving. And happy anniversary to The Incredible World of James Bond.

UPDATE: A couple of other things of note about The Incredible World of James Bond:

–It shows part of the casino scene from Thunderball. Adolfo Celi and Claudine Auger can be heard speaking in their own voices. They were dubbed for the movie.

–Over at The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Inner Circle page on Facebook, an original viewer notes that U.N.C.L.E.’s David McCallum was seen at the end of The Incredible World of James Bond saying the show would be back next week but not sounding very pleased it had been pre-empted in the first place.


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