State of the Bond franchise: Year-end 2022

The year of the 60th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise is drawing to an end. What happens next?

The thing is, nobody outside of Eon Productions (and their film partners Amazon and MGM) really knows.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So it is with the future of the cinematic James Bond.

One U.K. tabloid, Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun, claims that Aaron Taylor-Johnson, has the inside track to be the next cinematic Bond. But nobody else has confirmed that. For now, The Sun is alone, out on that limb.

One Bond fan YouTube Channel has suggested Christopher Nolan has an inside track to be Bond 26’s director. But we’ve heard that song before.

One Spanish-language Bond fan site once claimed in 2017 that Nolan would direct Bond 25/No Time to Die. This week, that same site did a gag post saying it had confirmed Taylor-Johnson would be the new film Bond. Dec. 28 is the Spanish equivalent of April Fools. You might think that’s funny but it’s not a way to enhance your credibility.

All of this reflects a thirst, a hunger, for ANYTHING about ACTUAL, REAL information about the future of the cinematic 007.

Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions, said repeatedly it would be at least two years before Bond 26 would start filming. Supposedly, Eon is doing a deep dive into Bond’s movie future.

Broccoli’s father, Albert R. Broccoli, once (between May 1985 and July 1987) changed creative direction and cast not one, but two Bond actors (Pierce Brosnan first and when that didn’t work out, Timothy Dalton).

Is this a serious deliberation? Of course. But it’s not rocket science. James Bond is James Bond. The character has been adapted to the times on numerous occasions.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll know more in 2023.

Until then, happy New Year.

A history of Christopher Nolan as next Bond director

Christopher Nolan

There has long been fan interest in the idea of Christopher Nolan directing a James Bond film. This week, The Bond Geek channel on YouTube brought up the idea again.

Nolan is a self-confessed Bond fan. Some bits from his trilogy of Batman movies (2005, 2008, 2012) have homages to the Bond film series. So did his 2010 movie Inception, where one segment seemed based on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

What’s more, Nolan’s name comes up every so often in connection with Bond movies.

It happened in 2013 when Nolan was mentioned as a possible director for Bond 24 (finally titled SPECTRE).

It happened again in December 2017, when a fan website said Nolan was “more than likely” to direct Bond 25, finally titled No Time to Die. I’d provide the link, except the fan site apparently took the article down.

As the blog has written before, the Bond series itself has been affected by Nolan. 2012’s Skyfall had Nolan inflences. Director Sam Mendes said so.

That influence continued with SPECTRE, which had Hoyte Van Hoytema as director of photography and Lee Smith as editor.

If you bring Nolan inside the Eon 007 tent, there are other issues. With Nolan, you typically also get the involvement of his production company, Syncopy. Nolan gets a producer’s credit. So does his wife, Emma Thomas.

As usual, we’ll see. Nolan’s next film, Oppenheimer, is scheduled for release in July 2023. Here’s the trailer:

Daniel Craig: The Long Goodbye Part Infinity

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

At this rate, Daniel Craig’s goodbye from the role of James Bond will be as long as the running time of the five movies (which included the three longest Bond films) where he played 007.

Variety this week came out with yet another story where the 54-year-old actor says he wanted to stop playing James Bond.

Daniel Craig says he has no regrets about leaving James Bond behind and has revealed that he discussed killing the character with franchise producer Barbara Broccoli.

“No, none at all,” Craig said when asked by Martha Kearney on BBC Radio 4’s “Best of Today” podcast. “I had an incredibly fortunate 17 years of my life making this. I literally want to spend the next 20 years of my life trying to unhook it all and try and put it into a place because it was incredible. I left it where I wanted it to be. And that I was given the chance to do that with the last movie.”

Which is a variation of comments Craig has said in multiple interviews since the long-delayed No Time to Die finally came out in the fall of 2021.

We get it. According to Craig, he wanted to kill off his version of Bond very early into his tenure. Fine. If true, he got his way.

Why is this still a thing?

Partially, it’s because there isn’t much real Bond film news. So, naturally, entertainment reporters keep picking over the scabs of the recent past.

Eon Productions has been doing a victory lap since No Time to Die came out.

Victory lap? More like a victory marathon. But you get the idea.

When last we heard from Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, the production company was still figuring out where to go next. Whatever.

Craig, after cashing in hefty paychecks for Bond, is cashing in even more hefty paychecks from Netflix for playing his Knives Out character. Good for you, Daniel. Being an actor can be a hard way to make a living. At this stage, Craig has made enough money for multiple generations of his family.

In American football, players who score a touchdown spike the ball in the end zone. Figuratively, Craig and Barbara Broccoli are running from end zone to end zone to spike the ball.

It would be nice if Variety, or other major entertainment news outlets, could let us know about the future of Bond films. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Bond 26 questions: The Henry Cavill edition

Henry Cavill

It turns out that Henry Cavill isn’t playing Superman anymore. The actor has quit The Witcher streaming show on Netflix. So does Cavill re-enter the picture to play James Bond in Bond 26?

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Is Cavill back in the picture?

I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Much has been made how Cavill, now 39, was in contention to play Bond for Casino Royale back when he was in his early 20s.

However, we know that Eon boss Barbara Broccoli was always keen on Daniel Craig playing Bond. While there were screen tests of other actors (including Cavill), they were stalking horses to show Sony/Columbia (which would release Casino Royale) that it wasn’t a one-horse race. Except, it was a one-horse race from almost the beginning.

What about the Pierce Brosnan precedent? Eon *had* signed Brosnan in the 1980s to play Bond. But the actor’s ties to the Remington Steele TV show got in the way when NBC renewed the series at the last minute. Eon would bring Brosnan back to play Bond for GoldenEye (1995).

Eon *has never* shown that level of commitment to Cavill.

Are you skeptical that Cavill had a chance this time?

Yes.

A few years ago, the conventional wisdom was Eon wouldn’t go back to Cavill because he had played Superman and appeared in spy movies (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in 2015 and Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018).

Now, it could be updated by saying Cavill is damaged goods by Warner Bros. rejecting him participating in future Superman movies. And don’t forget The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie had modest box office.

Lately, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon have talked about how a future Bond actor should be younger. Then again, Daniel Craig was 37 when cast and his first Bond movie came out when he was 38.

As usual, we’ll see.

About those 007 stories in The Sun

Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, The Sun, has made a splash in the James Bond world lately, playing up the idea that actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a favorite to be the next James Bond actor.

The Sun’s first Taylor-Johnson story ran in late November. The tabloid proclaimed the actor, 32, was now a “surprise frontrunner” to succeed Daniel Craig as Bond. The story claimed that Taylor-Johnson had participated in a screen test in September.

The Sun followed up this weekend with a story that Taylor-Johnson had filmed a Bond gunbarrel sequence and, according to an unidentified “movie insider,” was now “a step closer to signing a deal.”

But there are some caveats that should be kept in mind.

Other outlets haven’t confirmed this: Many outlets have summarized what The Sun wrote (making sure to note it was coming from The Sun). But nobody seems to be going out on the same limb as The Sun.

Why March? In its latest story, The Sun says Eon Productions is looking to make a Bond actor announcement in March. Why March? What’s so important about that timing? The Sun doesn’t say.

What about all those earlier Barbara Broccoli comments? The Eon boss has said repeatedly said that Bond 26 won’t start filming for at least two years. But The Sun doesn’t even reference those comments. Has something changed? Were all those previous comments a smokescreen? You wouldn’t know from reading The Sun.

How about earlier stories by The Sun? As recently as June 2022, The Sun was playing up Idris Elba was supposedly in “fresh talks” to play Bond. What happened?

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Perhaps Taylor-Johnson really is being seriously considered. But The Sun hasn’t exactly distinguished itself with this story.

About that Daniel Craig LAT interview

Daniel Craig’s 007

Daniel Craig, after a five-film run as James Bond, reflected on his 007 run (Casino Royale through No Time to Die) in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Whatever your feelings about those five movies, the LAT interview showed the 54-year-old actor has mixed feelings. An excerpt:

“It’s my fault because I kind of didn’t shut up about the fact that I had all these injuries. I’m pissed off at myself that I ever even spoke about them,” Craig said. “I put way more work into the creative side of those movies than I did into the physical side of those movies. The physical side of the movies was just the job. I had to do it. I trained, learned the fights, that’s kind of my brain not working. The rest of it, the look, the feel, the kind of the temperature of the movies, getting Sam Mendes in to direct ‘Skyfall,’ that’s where the hard work was. Going to the gym is hard work, but it’s not really brain hard work.”

Craig endured numerous injuries. He also had unprecedented input (compared to previous actors employed by Eon Productions) into the plot and other aspects of the movies.

The actor, a year after No Time to Die came out, claims it was his idea for his version of Bond to be killed.

“Two things, one for myself and one for the franchise,” Craig said. “One, for the franchise, was that resets start again, which [the franchise] did with me. And I was like, ‘Well, you need to reset again.’ So let’s kill my character off and go find another Bond and go find another story. Start at [age] 23, start at 25, start at 30.

To be sure, there’s a lot of after-the-fact story telling before and after a movie comes out. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” which is a line from 1962’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. That’s still the case in the 21st century.

Quotes from Craig’s interviews have split Bond movie fans. Craig fans say that shows why he’s a great actor. Craig critics cite this why he’s selfish.

Whatever. It remains to be seen whether Eon gets on with the business of a post-Craig era.

Sam Mendes makes his Bond film case

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes has made points about his two-film tenure in the James Bond film series. Some are new, some provide new twists.

The director, in a Nov. 8 story by The Hollywood Reporter, made new versions of previous comments about his time on Skyfall and SPECTRE, the only Bond films made during the 2010s.

The Skyfall delay was good! Bond 23, which would become Skyfall, originally was to be written by Peter Morgan and the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, entered bankruptcy in 2010, resulting in delays. An excerpt from the THR story:

Mendes and his collaborators used the downtime as an opportunity to creatively resuscitate the film’s storyline.

Morgan exited the project while Mendes brought in writer John Logan to rework the scripting by Purvis and Wade. Mendes has said that process helped the film and he repeats that in the new THR story.

Skyfall was the first time acknowledging that Bond aged: Skyfall “acknowledged the passage of time, arguably for the first time ever, in the series. It acknowledged that they are mortal, that they are going to age and probably die,” Mendes told THR.

Arguably, no it wasn’t. When Sean Connery did interviews for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, he said he was playing Bond as older. In For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore’s Bond goes to the gravesite of his late wife Tracy. That movie came out in 1981 but Tracy’s headstone says she died in 1969 (the year On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released). Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny in 1983’s Octopussy acknowledged being older.

For more details, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE was something else: The director didn’t get additional time for 2015’s SPECTRE.

With SPECTRE, “that time was not afforded to me,” Mendes told THR. “[With Spectre], I felt there was some pressure. Certainly Barbara (Broccoli) and Michael (G. Wilson) exerted some pressure on me and Daniel to make the next one, so that makes a big difference. People saying: ‘We want you to do it,’ and passionately wooing me to do it, was a big thing.”

Of course, Mendes could have said no. In 2015, Mendes told the BBC he almost turned SPECTRE down. “I said no to the last one and then ended up doing it, and was pilloried by all my friends,” Mendes told the BBC. “But I do think this is probably it.”

While not referenced by THR, SPECTRE also saw entire scripts made public because of hacks into Sony’s computer system. (Sony released four of the five Daniel Craig 007 films.) In addition to scripts, details about tax breaks from Mexico for SPECTRE became public. With SPECTRE, the writing team of Purvis and Wade was brought in to rewrite John Logan.

Footnote to the cinematic 007’s 60th anniversary

Sean Connery in Dr. No: Sorry, Sir Sean, you’re in the back of the pack.

So, the 60th anniversary of the cinematic James Bond still is underway.

Lea Seydoux, who appeared in two of the 25 Eon-produced Bond films (8 percent of the series total), shared her favorite Bond moment on the official Eon Instagram account.

“There are so many, but the scene from NO TIME TO DIE – saying goodbye in the boat is so beautifully shot and poignant. Daniel’s final moments on screen, at the end of his five film run was very emotional for us all.”

That’s to be expected. This reflects Seydoux’s not-so-vast Bond film experience.

Still, the cinematic Bond’s 60th anniversary hasn’t been so much about the character’s long run on movie screens. It has been more about Daniel Craig’s long run as Bond, with Eon boss Barbara Broccoli as her primary backer.

Craig was the first Bond actor chosen by Barbara Broccoli. Pierce Brosnan was the final Bond chosen by Broccoli’s father, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli.

No Time to Die, Craig’s last Bond film, came out a year ago. We still hear about how he was a great Bond.

When does Eon finally let Craig go?

We don’t know. It will be *years* before the next film Bond debuts.

We’ll see.

Will Bond 26 avoid M:I 7 and 8?

A previous Eon James Bond avatar on Twitter

Whether intentional or not, Bond 26 may avoid competition from the next two Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible films.

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part I is scheduled for 2023 and its follow-up, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part II is supposed to be out in 2024.

Meanwhile, Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions, has said Bond 26 won’t start filming for at least two years. A 2024 filming date most likely means the movie won’t be out until 2025. Bond 26 will feature a successor to Daniel Craig, whoever that is.

Obviously, that’s not official. Bond 26’s filming date isn’t set in stone and, until we know more, the next Bond film might not go into production until later. Based on various Broccoli interviews, there’s no new Bond actor selected, and work on a script hasn’t started yet.

There has been a lot of filming done on Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning but work may remain to finish the two-part saga. The two films are expected to be the final bow for Tom Cruise’s M:I saga, which began in 1996.

The last time we had a M:I film and a Bond movie the same year was 2015. That’s when Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation came out in the summer while Eon’s SPECTRE debuted in the fall.

Cruise’s M:I movies feature stunt sequences that appear to be homages to earlier Bond films. Yet, some M:I enthusiasts say Cruise’s movies have a sense of fun lacking in recent Bond movies.

None of this may be significant. But there’s a possibility Eon’s next Bond adventure won’t take place until after Cruise, 60, concludes his M:I run.

When will Eon start looking forward?

Eon Productions, via its social media outlets, seems to remain firmly on the past of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond.

Here are a sampling of tweets from Eon’s official Twitter account:

After the final day of shooting for No Time to Day, it would be a long time before Craig’s final Bond film would go before audiences in 2021.

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli said at the end of 2021 she wanted to celebrate Craig’s reign as Bond.

That celebration has continued long after the release of No Time to Die.

Eon has said it will take at least a couple of years before Bond 26 begins filming. There is no sign that schedule has been accelerated.