Bond 25 director denies Sun story about video games

Cary Fukunaga, Bond 25’s director

Bond 25’s director, Cary Fukunaga, today denied a report by the tabloid Sun newspaper that he caused a delay in shooting by playing video games.

“There’s not a minute on this job that isn’t scheduled,” Fukunaga wrote in an Instagram post.

“So sure it’s hard, but it’s still the best job in the world and I’d never disrespect the hardest working cast and crew,” he wrote. “We’re all in this together.”

The post didn’t specifically mention The Sun. On Monday, the tabloid had a story saying Fukunaga was late for filming “due to his particularly intense video games session.”

“A large number of crew were waiting on location when he eventually turned up three hours after his anticipated arrival time,” the tabloid said. The paper also claimed crew members refused overtime to make up for the delay.

British tabloids typically swarm over 007 films during production. The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun has been particularly aggressive with Bond 25.

The paper, for example, reported about the June 4 explosion at Pinewood Studios that resulted in some damage to the 007 Stage and a minor injury for a crew member. Eon Productions confirmed the explosion on social media.

The Sun has run multiple stories since, even referring to Bond 25 as “doomed” in the story on Monday.

Literary 007 Twitter completes his journey

Part of the Twitter home page for @JB_UnivEX

@JB_UnivEX has completed his 14-year journey (a little over a year in real time) showing what it might be like if the literary James Bond were on Twitter.

The literary Bond, of course, was bound by the Official Secrets Act. So he couldn’t *really* say what was going on. But for those who read Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories could follow the unfolding events.

One of the challenges for @JB_UnivEX was how Fleming himself wasn’t consistent with his own timeline. So, the Twitter account attempted to bring order to things.

For example, it began the events of the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel. Then, Bond had to make a quick trip to Canada to deal with the events of The Spy Who Loved Me novel before resuming the Majesty’s tale.

The blog first did its first post about @JB_UnivEX in April 2018 as Casino Royale was wrapping up. In the back of my mind, I was curious how he’d handle the conclusion of You Only Live Twice with a Bond suffering from amnesia.

This was how:

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Another highlight was when a brainwashed Bond arrived in London early in the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel. Brainwashed Bond decides to take in a movie before going to MI6 headquarters.

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In any event, for fans of the literary Bond (and 007 in general), it has been a great ride. This was the final tweet in character. We’re told the more than 2,300 tweets will be re-edited and represented in the future. However, there are no plans to do the continuation novels.

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Eon seeks to regain the B25 narrative with Craig photo

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

The official 007 Twitter account of Eon Productions today posted a photograph of Daniel Craig working out at the gym of Pinewood Studios.

“#007 Daniel Craig hitting the gym hard, prepping for shooting next week!” according to the caption that accompanied the photo.

When last seen out in public, the 51-year-old actor was on crutches and his left foot in a cast while at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He had previously underwent surgery for an ankle injury suffered during Bond 25’s shoot in Jamaica.

It’s not much of a stretch to view the tweet (and new photo of Craig in the gym) as Eon trying to regain control of the Bond 25 narrative. The only sign of the actor’s injury is the cast he’s still wearing.

Besides Craig’s injury, a June 4 explosion damaged the 007 Stage, causing one minor injury. Both incidents have generated bad publicity for the film, with British tabloids, led by the Sun, generating multiple stories.

Also, this week, director Cary Fukunaga posted a photo on Instagram of a crew member with an over-sized clapperboard. The Eon 007 Twitter account also sent that out. The message: Production continues despite the problems.

Here’s the new Tweet from Eon:

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B25 director reminds everyone film is still underway

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

Director Cary Fukunaga took to Instagram to remind everyone that Bond 25 still is underway despite an injury to its star and a June 4 explosion that damaged the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios.

The director posted a photograph of a crew member (“A cam 1st Jorge Sanchez”) holding up an over-sized clapperboard representing how a scene was to be filmed in Imax.

The production hadn’t said much since the June 4 explosion, which resulted in a minor injury to a crew member outside the 007 Stage.

Since then, the Sun tabloid in the U.K, has had various stories, including a June 9 article saying star Daniel Craig won’t be able to film scenes together with actor Rami Malek because of Malek’s schedule and Craig’s recovery time from ankle surgery.

A number of outlets also ran photos of Craig on crutches and his left foot in a “boot” while at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As a result, Fukunaga’s Instagram photo will likely catch attention. The official Eon Production James Bond Twitter account also ran the director’s photo.

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Licence to Kill’s 30th anniversary: 007 falters in the U.S.

Licence to Kill's poster

Licence to Kill’s poster

Adapted and updated from a 2014 post.

Licence to Kill, which had its world premiere 30 years ago today, is mostly known for a series of “lasts” but also for a first.

–It was the last of five 007 films directed by John Glen, the most prolific director in the series.

–The last of 13 Bond films where Richard Maibaum (1909-1991) participated in the writing

–It was the last with Albert R. Broccoli getting a producer’s credit (he would only “present” 1995’s GoldenEye).

–It was the last 007 movie with a title sequence designed by Maurice Binder, who would die in 1990.

–And the it was last 007 film where Pan Am was the unofficial airline of the James Bond series (it went out of business before GoldenEye).

It was also the first to falter badly in the U.S. market.

Economy Class

Bond wasn’t on Poverty Row when Licence to Kill began production in 1988. But neither did 007 travel entirely first class.

Under financial pressure from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which acquired half the franchise after buying United Artists earlier in the decade), Eon Productions moved the home base of the production to Mexico from Pinewood Studios.

Joining Timothy Dalton in his second (and last) outing as Bond was a cast mostly known for appearing on U.S. television, including Anthony Zerbe, Don Stroud, David Hedison (his second appearance as Felix Leiter), Pricilla Barnes, Rafer Johnson, Frank McRae as well as Las Vegas performer Wayne Newton.

Meanwhile, character actor Robert Davi snared the role of the film’s villain, with Carey Lowell and Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto as competing Bond women.

Wilson’s Role

Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli’s stepson and co-producer, took the role as lead writer because a 1988 Writers Guild strike made Richard Maibaum unavailable. Maibaum’s participation didn’t extend beyond the plotting stage. The teaser trailer billed Wilson as the sole writer but Maibaum received co-writer billing in the final credits.

Wilson opted for a darker take, up to a point. He included Leiter having a leg chewed off by a shark from the Live And Let Die novel. He also upped the number of swear words compared with previous 007 entries. But Wilson hedged his bets with jokes, such as Newton’s fake preacher and a scene where Q shows off gadgets to Bond.

Licence would be the first Bond film where “this time it’s personal.” Bond goes rogue to avenge Leiter. Since then, it has been frequently been personal for 007. Because of budget restrictions, filming was kept primarily to Florida and Mexico.

The end product didn’t go over well in the U.S. Other studios had given the 16th 007 film a wide berth for its U.S. opening weekend. The only “new” movie that weekend was a re-release of Walt Disney Co.’s Peter Pan.

Nevertheless, Licence finished an anemic No. 4 during the July 14-16 weekend coming in behind Lethal Weapon 2 (in its second weekend), Batman (in its fourth weekend) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (also fourth weekend).

Glen and Maibaum were done with Bond, the latter being part of the 007 series since its inception.

Bond 17’s Fembot

Initial pre-production of the next 007 film proceeded without the two series veterans. Wilson wrote a treatment in 1990 for Bond 17 with Alfonse Ruggiero that included a deadly fembot. Scripts with other scribes were then written based on that treatment. But that story was never made.

That’s because Broccoli would enter into a legal fight with MGM that meant Bond wouldn’t return to movie screens until 1995. By the time production resumed, Eon started over, using a story by Michael France as a beginning point for what would become GoldenEye. Maibaum, meanwhile, died in early 1991.

Today, some fans like to blame MGM’s marketing campaign or other major summer 1989 movies such as Batman or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But Licence came out weeks after either of those blockbusters.

And, it needs to be repeated, Bond couldn’t best Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which also came out weeks earlier.

In the end, the U.S. audience didn’t care for Licence. The movie’s total U.S. box office of $34.7 million didn’t match Batman’s U.S. opening weekend of $40.5 million. Licence’s U.S. box office was almost a third less than its 007 predecessor, The Living Daylights. Licence to Kill sold the fewest tickets in the U.S. among James Bond films.

Licence to Kill did much better in other markets. Still, Licence’s in worldwide ticket sales represented an 18 percent decline from The Living Daylights.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

Some 007 fans blame a lackluster U.S. advertising campaign. However, Michael G. Wilson said in 2015 that Eon “really run the marketing ourselves” and the and the studios involved “execute it.” Did that apply to Licence to Kill? Or was Licence somehow an exception?

For Dalton, Glen, Maibaum and even Broccoli (he yielded the producer’s duties on GoldenEye because of ill health), it was the end of the road.

Michael G. Wilson, despite his enormous impact on Licence to Kill, remained in place. Blood (even adopted blood), after all, is thicker than water — or even box office receipts.

Bond 25 questions: The British tabloids edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

It has been about six weeks since principal photography on Bond 25 began. Of all the media outlets out there, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun seems to be driving the media conversation.

Six months ago, even three months ago, that didn’t appear to be the case. With that in mind, here are some questions from the blog.

The Sun? Really? 

During pre-production and production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, the Daily Mail, via Baz Bamigboye, was the go-to tabloid.

Yes, Bamigboye’s stories had the smell of clickbait. But many of his stories were confirmed. Examples: Albert Finney was part of Skyfall’s cast. Yes, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to rewrite SPECTRE. Yes, Purvis and Wade were hired to start the Bond 25 scripting process.

As a result, over time, Bamigboye had to be taken seriously even if the Daily Mail had a well-deserved reputation for bad journalism.

But, for some reason, The Sun has been driving much of the Bond 25 storyline. The Sun came out with a story about the June 4 explosion at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. That spurred Eon Productions to quickly get out a statement.

The Sun’s latest story came out June 9. The Murdoch tabloid declared actor Rami Malek “has other filming commitments which will have started by the time” Daniel Craig is ready to resume filming following an injury.

With the tabloids, caution always is called for. Still, The Sun and its scribes have been more active than Bamigboye.

Here’s an excerpt from the newest story from The Sun. Caveat Emptor.

A Bond insider said: “Filming was supposed to finish in September but the cast and crew have been told it’s been pushed back to late October, possible early November due to Daniel’s injury and the set explosion.

“But they still need to find a time for Daniel and Rami to film together.”

How serious should a Bond fan take The Sun? 

Take it with a lot of caution.

The Sun has been out of the gate in declaring Bond 25 “cursed.” In its most recent story, The Sun amped things up by calling Bond 25 “doomed.”

Whoa! That’s way, way too strong a term. Even if you think The Sun has good sources, that’s overplaying your hand.

What’s more, tabloids are famous for taking shortcuts (to put it mildly).

What happens now?

Take it easy. Don’t assume things are doomed or cursed. (A curse is a man-made construct to explain various events.)

At the same time, keep an eye on how things are going. Film productions experience setbacks. Some turn out well (Jaws). Some not so much (Heaven’s Gate). Regardless, there’s no point in jumping to conclusions.

Tarantino’s theater to show an Irving Allen double feature

Dean Martin’s title card for The Wrecking Crew, titles designed by Wayne Fitzgerald.

Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema has scheduled a double feature of movies produced by Irving Allen — The Wrecking Crew and Hammerhead.

Allen (1905-1987) was the partner of Albert R. Broccoli. But the partnership ended in part because Broccoli wanted to make movies based on Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels while Allen was cool to the idea.

Once the 007 film series took off, Allen looked to get in the game.

The Wrecking Crew was the last of four Matt Helm films starring Dean Martin. To entice Martin, Allen made him a partner in the enterprise. That meant Martin, who got a percentage of the action, got paid more for 1966’s The Silencers than Sean Connery got for Thunderball.

The Wrecking Crew also is referenced in Tarantino’s upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywwod. The cast includes Margo Robbie as actress Sharon Tate. A recent trailer for the movie shows Robbie’s Tate going to see herself in The Wrecking Crew.

Hammerhead was based on a novel by James Mayo (real name Stephen Coulter), whose books featured a hero named Charles Hood. Vince Edwards played Hood in Hammerhead. One of the screenwriters was Herbert Baker, who had worked on three Matt Helm movies for Allen.

The Wrecking Crew and Hammerhead are scheduled to be shown June 12 and 13, according to the New Beverly’s website. The theater is showing a new 35mm print of The Wrecking Crew.