A James Bond musical?

Skyfall's poster image

Coming soon to a stage near you?

The website BROADWAY WORLD.COM said June 29 there’s a planned James Bond stage musical in the works and that a daughter of Eon Productions co-founder Harry Saltzman is involved.

The title is simply James Bond: The Musical and, according to the website the curtain may rise in 2017 on the production.

Here’s an excerpt with more details:

(Merry) Saltzman, daughter of legendary Bond film producer and impresario Harry Saltzman, said the world’s favorite spy will soon be singing, dancing, and laughing his way into audiences’ hearts in an original production with songs and lyrics by Jay Henry Weisz and a book by Dave Clarke.

The spelling of Merry Saltzman is correct. Documentaries about the making of James Bond movies included interviews of Saltzman children Steven and Hilary but Merry Saltzman didn’t participate. You can see Merry Saltzman referenced in THIS 1994 OBITUARY BY THE NEW YORK TIMES.

To read the entire Broadway World.com story, CLICK HERE.

In 1965, Mad magazine presented a parody of a 007 stage musical. Mad’s version, written by Frank Jacobs and drawn by Mort Drucker, had songs all sung to the tune of classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from Oklahoma! (“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh-07! Is the greatest spy there is today! Though the Empires’s gone, He keeps right on…So you’d better not get in his way!”)

To view that parody, CLICK HERE for a 2012 post by the James Bond 007 Dossier website. It has PDF images of the Jacobs-Drucker work.

FWIW: Daily Mail claims Daniel Craig rewriting SPECTRE

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

Presented strictly for entertainment value: The U.K. Daily Mail IN A GOSSIP COLUMN BY SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE posted June 19, claims that SPECTRE star Daniel Craig has been doing some personal rewriting of SPECTRE’s script.

Here’s an excerpt:

I hear that the 47-year-old actor has been rewriting the script of 007’s latest outing, Spectre, even though filming has been going on since December.
‘The script is still all over the place, to the extent that Daniel himself has had a bash at rewriting it,’ says my man with the vodka martinis. ‘It’s total creative turmoil.’

To be clear, the Daily Mail has a journalistic reputation that would be tactfully described as uneven. However, the U.K. publication has published a number of 007 scoops proven to be correct. On the other hand, most of those were written by Baz Bamigboye, who has been MIA (as far as 007 stories are concerned) since SPECTRE went into production Dec. 8.

The only reason we mention this is because SPECTRE has had a dicey scripting process. The first writer was John Logan. Because of the Sony hacking, it’s now known Logan’s initial efforts contained some questionable ideas.

Logan was replaced by 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (something that Bamigboye originally reported last year), with some polishes by playwright by Jez Butterworth.

Also, it should be noted that Craig said in 2011 he and director Marc Forster did uncredited rewrites for 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

The comic book movie ‘glut’ of 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

Over the past few months, we’ve been reading various comments on social media such as, “I’m tired of all of the comic book movies!” Or “Comic book movies are ruining the cinema.”

We’re not quite five-and-a-half months into the year. How many have there actually been?

Well, most prominently, there’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. As of June 8, it had worldwide box office of $1.35 billion, ACCORDING TO BOX OFFICE MOJO.

That’s less than the $1.5 billion for the 2012 original and the $1.51 billion for this year’s Furious 7. Still, most studio executives would kill for box office exceeding $1 billion. Also, Avengers: Age of Ultron’s budget still came in $50 million cheaper (with location shooting in South Africa, South Korea and Italy) than SPECTRE and its $300 million (or more) budget.

Other comic book-based films released so far? Well, there’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, which based on a limited series of comics and revamped significantly from the original. After that, not so many.

What’s coming in the second half of 2015? There’s Marvel’s Ant-Man in July and Fox’s new attempt at a Fantastic Four movie in early August. After that….not so many.

Granted, movie goers have been seeing a teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice. But that won’t be out until March 2016. Granted, Marvel/Disney and Warner Bros./DC have announced slates of comic book-based films going out to 2020. But they’re not out this year.

A half-century ago, James Bond films were dismissed by some critics as little more than comic books. Older Bond fans seethe at the memory. At the same time, some of those same fans look at comic book-based films the same way those 1960s critics looked at Bond. The more things change, they more they stay the same.

REVIEW: Brad Bird pleas for optimism in Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland's poster

Tomorrowland’s poster

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, dark has been fashionable at the movie box office. Climate change, wars and other calamities since then have reinforced that.

With Tomorrowland, director Brad Bird pleas for optimism. His second live-action film is a Valentine’s to dreamers in the form of a science fiction/fantasy story.

Bird’s 130-minute movie, which he co-wrote with Damon Lindelof, isn’t a Pollyanna endeavor. It more than acknowledges the challenges facing the world. Still, it has a simple message: We can’t just give up.

Tomorrowland is a place created by dreamers including Tesla, Verne and Eiffel (with Edison taking credit). In the course of the film, we meet former boy inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney), a disillusioned former dreamer, and Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a young woman who still is one.

At the start of the movie, Walker is trying to describe events while the more optimistic Casey keeps interrupting his narrative. Bird & Co. doesn’t tip his hand. It takes a while for the story to unfold and the audience needs to pay attention.

Eventually, a confused Casey finds her way to Tomorrowland. Along the way, she encounters friendly robot Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and a number of hostile ones. She’s led to Walker who, we learn, found Tomorrowland at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York but who later was exiled.

Early in the proceedings, we see a display with a countdown. As things stand, something bad is going to happen, but it takes some time to find out what. Walker and Casey, fighting off hostile robots, manage to get to Tomorrowland.

This is a story that couldn’t be told — at least in live-action form — without computer effects. Late in the middle portion of Tomorrowland, things threaten to get away from Bird — similar to how Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar movie got away from him. However, the director pulls things together in the film’s final act.

When all is said and done, the director delivers an emotional and human ending. Here, GCI is a tool. An elaborate tool, to be sure, but one that serves the purpose of the story and not an end to itself.

Summer films are supposed to be “popcorn movies,” and that applies to Tomorrowland. Yet its strong final act provides an additional dimension. Having a human story and computer effects aren’t mutally exclusive. GRADE: A, mostly because of the powerful final act.

UPDATE (May 24): Tomorrowland, while No. 1 at the U.S. box office this weekend, delivered less-than-expected ticket sales. This NEW YORK TIMES STORY has an interesting passage: “While moviegoers have shown a taste for post-apocalyptic movies in recent years, Mr. Bird wanted to offer a more optimistic portrait of the future. But there is a reason studios continue to churn out dystopian fare: People seem to like it.”

Avengers sequel has U.S. opening of ‘only’ $191 million

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

UPDATE (May 4): The actual box office figure came out today. It was a little better than the original estimate on Sunday — $191.3 million.

ORIGINAL POST (May 3) Avengers: Age of Ultron generated estimated U.S. ticket sales of $187.7 million, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO.COM.

That’s an enormous opening for any other movie, but it fell short of the $207.4 million opening of 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers.

Movie box office figures are now covered similar to corporate earnings and monthly auto sales. The figures are gauged against expectations and projections. When the numbers exceed estimates, it’s written as a success. When the numbers fall short, they are often viewed as a disappointment.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “tracking” numbers indicated an opening of $190 million to $230 million.

When the movie didn’t make that level, there was some spinning to do, if this excerpt from the Times story is an indication.

The studio, however, adjusted its expectations on Saturday evening given several major competing events, including the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao “fight of the century” in Las Vegas that kept some potential moviegoers in front of TV sets instead.

“Between the boxing match, NHL and NBA playoffs, the Kentucky Derby … looks like folks were distracted,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution. “But the second-biggest opening in history of movie business is something to be proud of and also just the beginning of what we expect to be a spectacular run.”

In a SEPARATE STORY, Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo wrote that repeating a $200 million-plus was going to be hard.

“In the years since the first movie’s opening, no other title has opened anywhere close to $200 million,” Subers wrote. “To make it that high required a perfect storm of factors, which Age of Ultron couldn’t quite replicate.”

Marvel still looks to have an overall financial success. The movie had an estimated production budget of $250 million. According to Box Office Mojo, its worldwide ticket sales are $626.7 million already. The general rule of thumb is that a movie needs to bring in about 2.5 times to 3 times its production budget to be profitable. The original Avengers movie had worldwide box office of $1.5 billion.

Marvel is an example of the corporate model of making films, which emphasizes planning and predictability. Avengers: Age of Ultron is the climax of Marvel’s “Phase Two” of films. The studio already has outlined films for “Phase Three,” which will culminate in a two-part Avengers movie being released in 2018 and 2019.

SPECTRE: What could have been

SPECTRE LOGO

No plot spoilers for the actual movie. If you think nothing should be written based on the Sony hack, stop reading now. No further warnings.

Now that WikiLeaks has set up a searchable index of hacked Sony documents, pretty much anybody with patience and an Internet connection can check out the pre-production of SPECTRE.

The Bleeding Cool website PUBLISHED A LONG POST based on the WiliLeaks material that contained a lot of spoilers and ideas considered, but rejected, for the movie. There have been other stories, SUCH AS THIS ONE concerning details of product placement deals.

The following doesn’t concern what’s in the movie — but could have had things gone differently.

October 2013, a SPECTRE outline arrives: Sony executives are mostly enthusiastic. There are multiple references to “love” this or “great hook” are among the responses.

“Love the idea that their is a mole in MI-6 and it turns out to be Tanner,” reads one of the reactions from the Sony camp.

Hard-core Bond fans — especially those who like Ian Fleming’s novels — might beg to differ. Bill Tanner, M’s chief of staff, was a friend to Bond in Fleming’s novels. In The Man With The Golden Gun book, Tanner asks M if he plans to bring charges against a brainwashed Bond for trying to kill him.

In the Golden Gun novel, when M informs Tanner he plans to send Bond on a suicide mission — to take out the novel’s title character — the chief of staff responds, “You coldhearted bastard!”

March 2014, first draft is delivered: There’s a more mixed reaction. Executives comment at events on various pages, while some visuals get praised.

Tanner is still a traitor. The villain, at this point, is an African, Joseph Ki-Embu, who uses a familiar Bond villain name as an alias. Felix Leiter, Bond’s CIA agent friend, also is in the mix.

May 2014: Amy Pascal, at the time one of Sony’s top movie executives, types up some reactions, including page-by-page notes.

Highlights: Bond is “rejected by two women by page 30.” Bond lets Tanner commit suicide on page 91. On page 122, Leiter calls Moneypenny a “foxy lady.”

Late June 2014: BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL reports that veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been brought back to rewrite the script by John Logan.

Jonathan Glickman, an executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half of the 007 franchise, sends an e-mail to Sony executives. “Who spills the beans on this? P and W’s agents?” He’s also not happy with some John Cleese quotes in the Daily Mail story.

August 2014: There’s a debate because SPECTRE director “Sam Mendes is thinking about shooting 3 sequences in IMAX, a la (director Christopher) Nolan on Batman and Interstellar.” This will add $7 million to the movie’s budget. The same month, it’s decided that won’t happen. The three sequences will be shot “with full aperture, spherical lenses v. the rest of the pic which is anamorphic.”

007 film locations: New Otani hotel, Tokyo

James Bond (Sean Connery) just before an action sequence in You Only Live Twice

James Bond (Sean Connery) just before an action sequence in You Only Live Twice

TOKYO — Some visitors to the New Otani hotel in Tokyo likely get a feeling of deja vu.

Osato Chemical

Osato Chemical “headquarters” today

They should, at least if they’ve seen a lot of James Bond movies. The hotel provided a key exterior for the 1967 film You Only Live Twice.

In the film, Bond takes the place of an assassin he has killed. The agent is taken to the headquarters of Osato Chemical & Engineering Co. He ends up having to fight his way out, helped by Aki, an agent for the Japanese Secret Service.

Later, Bond goes undercover into Osato headquarters to try and find out more about the company, which turns out to be a front for SPECTRE’s plot to start World War III. Again, he needs Aki’s help to get out alive. That leads to a high-speed car chase, climaxing with a helicopter with a giant magnet, snatching the car chasing Bond and Aki.

In real life, at least in 2015, it’d be extremely difficult to have a high-speed car chase. The nearby streets are crowded most of the time. Most of the Osato sequences were actually filmed on Ken Adam-designed sets at Pinewood Studios in England.

The hotel includes a revolving restaurant at the top and a variety of stores and services. Its guests include tourists from around the world and is also used for corporate events.

Here’s a 2011 video contrasting the hotel as it appeared in the movie (filmed in 1966) and in real life.

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