NTTD title song took a year to sell, co-writer says

Finneas O’Connell, older brother and writing collaborator of Billie Eilish

It took about a year to sell Eon Productions on the idea of a James Bond title song performed by Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell, who co-wrote the No Time to Die song with his sister, said in an interview with Billboard.

“We fought it out for a year,” O’Connell said in the interview. “We’ve always wanted to write a James Bond theme song. And you know, it’s a legendary franchise, so we had to convince a lot of people that we were the right choice.”

The interview was about O’Connell’s career with in general. But there were details about No Time to Die. O’Connor described the selection process.

“And then we had to write a song that everybody liked,” he said. “So it was a hard-won process. But everybody that we worked with on it, Barbara Broccoli, the producer of the Bond franchise (alongside Michael G. Wilson), we got to work with Hans Zimmer… it was a real joy.”

O’Connell reflected on the publicity about last week’s announcement concerning the No Time to Die title song.

“But uh, yeah, it’s so funny, ’cause some of the headlines have been like, ‘Billie Eilish and Finneas are writing the James Bond theme.’ And I’m so glad we’re no longer writing it — I’m so glad we wrote it a couple months ago, because, oh my god, if it was like, announced that we were doing it and we still had to write it, I would have such writer’s anxiety, you know?”

O’Connell described the ups and downs involved.

“It’s, in my experience, in my limited experience, as a songwriter and producer, it’s the hardest playing field I’ve never been on. … There were so many points where I was like, ‘I don’t know, maybe we don’t have this!’ (Laughs.) Like, it’s just like such a big deal. And you know … the whole pairing is very authentic to my and Billie’s relationship with those movies.”

Mr. Peanut, who had Thunderball cameo, perishes at 104

Mr. Peanut enjoying himself during the Junkanoo sequence of Thunderball

Mr. Peanut, ad mascot for Planters since 1916, has perished while saving the lives of Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh. Mr. Peanut’s demise will be featured in a commercial during the pre-game show for the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, according to a press release.

Mr. Peanut was known for his top hat, monocle and spats. His long career included a cameo in the Junkanoo sequence of Thunderball, the 1965 James Bond film.

Here’s an excerpt from the release:

The newly released pre-game ad shows MR. PEANUT, Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes are on a nutty adventure in the NUTmobile when MR. PEANUT is forced to swerve, causing the vehicle to spin out of control. The trio jumps out of the NUTmobile, clinging to a tree branch, as the vehicle crashes down into a deep canyon below. They momentarily find safety until their combined weight begins to break the branch. In the ultimate act of friendship, MR. PEANUT lets go and sacrifices himself to save his friends from impending doom.

The commercial already is online.

Broccoli & Wilson considered ‘shutting down’ B25: EW

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “considered shutting down” No Time to Die “entirely” after the film’s first director, Danny Boyle departed, Entertainment Weekly said, citing comments from Broccoli during an interview for a new EW story.

The entertainment publication didn’t provide additional details. It merely says the production continued after the producers met Cary Fukunaga, who got hired as the new director.

Eon Productions makes the Bond films and controls the franchise along with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. No Time to Die is being released by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. with Universal internationally. Presumably those parties would have had to be consulted had a shutdown been ordered.

The movie originally had a fall 2019 release date. With Boyle’s departure because of “creative differences,” it was pushed back, first to February 2020 and finally to its current April 2020 release.

Some other details in the EW story:

–David Dencik plays a kidnapped scientist referenced in previously released plot summaries.

–Broccoli appears to deny that Lashana Lynch’s Nomi character received the 007 designation after Bond left MI6. “People write these theories without knowing,” Broccoli told EW. The Mail on Sunday reported in July 2019 that Nomi had been assigned the 007 code number in the film

UPDATE (4:55 p.m. New York time): Reader Jeffrey Westhoff notes that Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel (where Lashana Lynch was a co-star) wrote a tweet in December where she believed Lynch’s character had the 007 code number.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

No Time to Die world premiere set for March 31

No Time to Die teaser poster

No Time to Die’s world premiere will be March 31 in London, Eon Productions announced today.

The premiere showing will be at Royal Albert Hall, according to the announcement.

The 25th James Bond film will have its U.K. release two days later on April 2. It won’t arrive in the U.S. until an official release of April 10 (although there will be likely “preview showings” on the night of April 9.)

Royal Albert Hall previously hosted the world premieres of Skyfall and SPECTRE.

No Time to Die finished principal photography in October, with some pickup shots being filmed since then.

The movie is in post-production. Last week, it was announced that Hans Zimmer is scoring the movie and that Billie Eilish is co-writing and performing the title song.

The MI6 James Bond website reported Jan. 7 that recording sessions for the score were underway. The website was the first to report that Eilish would perform the title song.

Billie Eislish talks briefly about No Time to Die

Billie Eilish talked briefly about No Time to Die in a video interview, indicating she has worked on the movie’s title song for “a couple of months.”

Eilish told ALT 98.7 FM she was contacted about the Bond song “a while ago…It was a crazy call and a crazy last couple of months.”

The singer also said she was excited to have the gig. “Bond is so dope, it really is,” she said. “It’s like the coolest movie franchise in the world.”

Eilish said she’s “working on it with Hans” Zimmer but didn’t go into detail. Eilish is co-writing the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell.

Separately, The Guardian, a sister publication of The Observer, ran a feature story on Eilish.

The story includes  this quote from Popjustice founder Peter Robinson: “She’s not Shirley Bassey. There’s a real power in the understatement of her music. When one of her songs comes on the radio, it sounds like some alien transmission has taken over Capital or Radio 1.”

The video interview is embedded below. The No Time to Die discussion starts around the 1:50 mark.

NTTD roundup: Add to music team, running time questions

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Here’s a quick roundup of No Time to Die developments:

Music team adds a recruit: Musician Johnny Marr will work with Hans Zimmer on the No Time to Die score, NME reported, citing comments from Marr.

“Part of the legacy of the Bond films is iconic music, so I’m very happy to be bringing my guitar to No Time to Die,” Marr told NME.

Marr has worked with Zimmer on previous films, including Inception, where Marr was a guitarist and Amazing Spider-Man 2, where Marr contributed to the score along with Zimmer.

A three-hour Bond? The MI6 James Bond website examined recent developments that may (or may not) point to the 25th James Bond film having a running time of almost three hours.

@ImAFilmEditor tweeted back on Dec. 4 that No Time to Die may end up being the longest Bond film but there weren’t any details beyond that. He reminded people of that in a Jan. 16 tweet.

This week, @antovolk did some more detective work. He provided caveats that the movie is still in post production and that a final running time isn’t locked down.

Bond films during the Daniel Craig era have tended toward longer running times, except for 2008’s Quantum of Solace, which had a 106-minute running time. SPECTRE’s running time was 148 minutes, the longest so far for the film series.

Some questions Variety could have asked Broccoli & Wilson

Eon Productions logo

This week, Variety published an interview with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions. What follows are some questions that could have been asked.  Maybe they were but there’s no reference in the story that they were.

–Mr. Wilson, you’re 78. You and your half-sister Barbara Broccoli have run the franchise for a quarter-century. Does Eon have a succession plan in place? If so, can you describe it? Might you retire? Or do you plan to carry on? Or  will Barbara Broccoli take full command?

–Has anyone proposed acquiring Danjaq/Eon in the last 10 years?

–Do you expect the Broccoli-Wilson family will remain in control of the Bond film franchise 10 years from now?

Michael G. Wilson

–Who proposed that “Smallville”-style TV show? (The Variety story said Broccoli and Wilson rejected a “Smallville”-style TV series with Bond at Eton as a teenager) Was it Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, your studio partner? Why did Eon reject it?

–How would have the proposed “Smallville”-style TV show differ from the “Young Bond” novels published by Ian Fleming Publications? Would it have been substantially different in tone than the James Bond Jr. animated show (which featured Bond’s nephew, rather than Bond himself) from the 1990s?

–MGM, has undergone many changes over the past 40 years. It exited bankruptcy in 2010. It hasn’t had a CEO since Gary Barber exited in March 2018. Are you satisfied with where MGM is right now?

–The entertainment industry is facing a lot of changes with streaming. What is Bond’s place amid all these changes? Stay with movies? Make some kind of adjustment?

I did a couple of tweets with a few of these questions. I got some pushback from a reader who felt the questions were rude. The thing is, all of these are legitimate questions.

Remember, Albert R. Broccoli put Danjaq (parent company of Eon Productions) up for sale in the early 1990s. Nothing came of that. But succession planning is common. Even family-owned companies do succession planning all the time.