Why nobody should be surprised that ‘nothing is happening’

Naomie Harris in Moonlight

Naomie Harris in Moonlight

Naomie Harris caused some buzz in 007-land this week after giving an interview with Total Film that got summarized in the UK tabloid Mirror.

According to the story, the actress wanted to find out from Eon Productions what was going on with Bond 25. Here’s the key excerpt:

Even though she is part of the 007 franchise, Naomie admits she has equally been drawn into speculation about who will be Bond in the next film, though producers have insisted to her they are not even thinking about the project yet.

(snip)

“I met them recently and said, ‘What’s going on guys? Because everybody keeps asking me.’ I was believing the hype. I was like, ‘Is it Tom Hiddleston? What’s going on?’ They were like, ‘Naomie, nothing is happening.’ Because they’re doing another film at the moment. They were like, ‘We are focusing on this film. We have nothing to do with that.’ “

Nobody should be surprised. Why? Because if we were within a year of production starting, more would be happening.

Some recent history. The Deadline: Hollywood website first reported in January 2010 that Eon was considering Sam Mendes to direct the then-untitled Bond 23.

The project got delayed by the bankruptcy that year of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. But the movie was a go again by January 2011 — 10 months before it began filming.

Later THAT SAME MONTH, Deadline reported that Eon was considering casting Javier Bardem in the film. Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported in February 2011 that Ralph Fiennes was in talks to join the cast. Harris’ own casting in the film was reported by the now-defunct News of the World in June 2011.

In other words, months before filming began, news about the director and cast began to appear. The story was similar with 2015’s SPECTRE, which had an announced writer in November 2012 and a release date and director (Mendes again) announced in July 2013.

With Bond 25, there’s no director, no script (as far as anyone knows) and no cast, including a confirmed James Bond. Daniel Craig, who turns 49 in March, has said he’d miss playing Bond but hasn’t actually said he’ll do it again.

Oh, and there’s no studio to release Bond 25. MGM is too small to distribute Bond films and has no studio partner lined up yet. Sony Pictures has released the past four 007 films.

Many fans are hopeful that Bond 25 can make a fall 2018 release date. But there are no signs Eon is gearing up. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli produced Craig’s now-concluded Othello play. She is working on a non-Bond film (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) and another play, based on the life of studio mogul Robert Evans.

At this point, there is no sign of the kind of activity that precedes a Bond movie. So the quotes from Harris ought not be surprising. If Eon and MGM showed more urgency a 2018 release date could still happen. But there’s no sign of such urgency.

About that Christopher Nolan directing 007 film thing

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

There’s been another breakout of “Christopher Nolan directing James Bond fever.”

The subject comes up every so often. It’s well known the London-born Nolan likes James Bond movies. His Batman trilogy (2005-2008) contains references to Bond films. So does 2010’s Inception.

In May 2013, Nolan’s name was briefly mentioned as a possibility for directing Bond 24 (eventually titled SPECTRE) by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail. Nolan’s representatives were supposed to have been approached. But, two months later, the return of Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, was announced.

The newest outbreak of Nolan fever occurred Jan. 15 after actor Tom Hardy told the Daily Beast website that it “would be so cool” to play Bond with Nolan directing. Hardy has been in several Nolan-directed movies, including the upcoming Dunkirk.

With all that in mind, here are some observations and a question.

Skyfall was Nolan-lite:  Mendes, during Skyfall’s production, acknowledged The Dark Knight (the second of Nolan’s trilogy) was an inspiration for Skyfall. As a result, there are a number of similarities.

There are two ways to look at this. One, you already have an idea what a Nolan-directed Bond film would be like. Or two, why not have the real thing?

Nolan would work with some familiar faces: For SPECTRE, Eon Productions hired a Nolan director of photography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and film editor (Lee Smith). Both worked with the director on Dunkirk.

What’s more, veteran Eon special effects man Chris Courbould also was a crew member on Nolan’s Batman films and Inception.

Nolan still would make changes: The director likes to write his own movies. No Bond director has also had a writing credit on the 007 film he helmed. It also seems likely Nolan would want to bring Hans Zimmer aboard as composer. They’ve worked together a number of times, also including Dunkirk.

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan's production company

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

Does Eon bring Syncopy into the Bond mix? 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.

Bond films traditionally were a producer-driven operation. Since the late 2000s. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has been more enthused by “auteur” directors (Mendes and Quantum of Solace’s Marc Forster). But would Eon accommodate Nolan’s production company in a Bond film?

Many 007 fans reply something like, “Nolan loves James Bond so of course he will!”

This blog is a little more skeptical of that. At this point, though, there’s not much point in speculation. Bond 25 doesn’t have a director or a confirmed leading man. So we’ll see.

Sony says it won’t sell movie business

sonylogo

Sony Corp.’s chief executive officer said Friday that the Japanese electronics company is not selling its movie and entertainment business, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times’ story is mostly about how Michael Lynton is stepping down as head of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Lynton is departing effective Feb. 2. Kazuo Hirai, the Sony Corp. CEO, will take a more active role at the entertainment unit, according to The Times, including keeping an office at Sony Pictures offices in Culver City, California.

Here’s an excerpt from The Times’ story:

Mr. Hirai also emphasized that the studio was not for sale — a persistent topic of Hollywood speculation — calling movies, television and music “essential parts of Sony.”

Here’s why James Bond fans should care: Sony has released the last four James Bond films. Its most recent two-picture deal expired with SPECTRE. The company has said it wants to continue its 007 relationship with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio.

For now, MGM has no distribution deal for Bond 25. Under terms of its most recent Bond deal, Sony’s profits were low compared with MGM and Danjaq LLC, parent company of Eon Productions.

The departing Lynton was embarrassed by the 2014 Sony hacks. But he survived, unlike studio executive Amy Pascal. Pascal, in turn, had a close relationship with Barbara Broccoli, the Eon boss. Pascal ended up with a producer’s deal at Sony.

Pascal was a producer of last year’s Ghostbusters movies, which Sony hoped would become a franchise. That’s now considered unlikely after generating worldwide box office of about $229 million.

Craig’s Othello play may get a separate Broadway run

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig

The off-Broadway production of Othello, with Daniel Craig as Iago, may get a separate run on Broadway in spring 2017, the New York Post reported.

The play currently is at the New York Theatre Workshop, which it is scheduled to conclude on Jan. 18.

The Post is saying the play may come to broadway. Here’s an excerpt:

Meanwhile, Daniel Craig is eying a move to Broadway after winning raves for his Iago in the New York Theatre Workshop production of “Othello.”

Craig, sources say, initially shied away from talk about Broadway because the critics were lukewarm to him in 2013’s “Betrayal.” But he’s happy now — as is his co-star, the excellent David Oyelowo — and senses a shot at a Tony for Best Actor in a Play, if the show can get in under the Tony cut-off date, which is April 27, 2017.

Othello is produced by Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli. The Post’s Page Six gossip feature said last week that Othello is part of an effort by Broccoli to lure Craig back for Bond 25.

Craig’s schedule includes Kings, a movie about the 1990s LA riots, and Purity, a limited-run television series for the Showtime pay-cable channel.

A look at B25 Ltd.’s paperwork

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

Corrects date of original incorporation to 2015.

There was something Bond 25 related that actually happened in 2016: some filings concerning the updating of B25 Ltd., a production-related company.

During production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, similar entities were formed, B23 for Skyfall, B24 for SPECTRE.

B25 Ltd. was incorporated on May 6, 2015, according to documents filed with the U.K. It was incorporated as a private limited company. (CLICK HERE for a definition.)

B25 has 100 shares, all of which are held by Eon Productions.

There were some filings with 2016 dates updating information on directors, although the changes took place in 2015.

The company has five directors, led by Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

The other directors are David Pope (who has titles such as production executive and co-producer on recent Bond films), John Roebuck (who has received accountant credits) and Andrew Noakes (who has had credits including associate producer and co-producer).

Thanks to reader Matthew Miner for the heads up.

As 007’s lost year ends, will Eon follow its own advice?

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

As 2016 draws to a close, the future of the film James Bond is a little up in the air.

It’s been a bit of a lost year. No progress toward a finding a studio to release Bond 25. No public announcement about a writer or director. No hint about a release date.

With that in mind, will Eon Productions follow its own advice about how to carry on a film franchise?

On July 31, 2012, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson gave an address about the subject. Among his recommendations:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a “formula for complacency”

 “It’s important to change things, to get ahead of the curve before things taper off,” Wilson said.

In the last week, tabloids in the U.S. and U.K. have come out with studios saying that Eon or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are determined that Daniel Craig’s decade-long reign as 007 continue.

The Page Six feature of the New York Post said Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is producing the off-Broadway play Othello, where Craig plays Iago, to eventually get the actor back for Bond 25. The U.K. Mirror said MGM was “panicked” after not hearing anything from Craig.

If there’s any truth to either (which remains to be seen), it doesn’t appear as if anyone is looking to make a major change.

“Believe in your brand. Cubby Broccoli used to say Bond is the star”

“That means that Bond is bigger than any actor who portrays him,” Wilson said, “and no writer, director or producer is indispensable.”

“It all boils down to don’t be afraid of change”

“The Bond films have been recast six times and each time the series was re-evented,” Wilson said. “Each actor brought out different aspects of the character.”

“We believe story is not an element, the story is a key to a good film.”

The last two Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, included Bond confronting his backstory. They sold a lot of tickets in theaters.

Eon could continue down that path. Perhaps Bond could discover his father wasn’t his actual father. The agent could confront, yet again, a major personal crisis. That could yield many dramatic moments.

Or the filmmakers could change yet again.

If you want to watch Wilson make his comments, the quotes cited here begin after the 11:00 mark:

Caveat Emptor: UK tabloid claims MGM ‘panicking’

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

A British tabloid apparently has decided U.S. tabloids shouldn’t have all the James Bond fun.

The Mirror claims that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives are “panicking” because they can’t get Daniel Craig to respond about whether he’ll be in Bond 25.

Here’s an excerpt, for what it’s worth.

A source said: “Daniel and MGM are currently at a stalemate with him having not spoken to them about Bond.

“They have offered a bigger wage deal, and asked about his filming availability to his reps in 2017, but as yet they have not spoken to Daniel.

“They want Bond 25 out in October 2018, but currently they have no Bond, film dates or knowledge of when that will change.”

What’s more, according to the tabloid, getting a commitment from Craig, 48, is an important part of securing an agreement from Sony Pictures to co-finance the movie.

The Mirror didn’t get into this detail or context. But here goes. MGM is a shadow of its former self. After a 2010 bankruptcy, MGM isn’t big enough to release its own movies. Sony Pictures, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has distributed the past four 007 films.

Sony’s most recent contract expired with SPECTRE. That contract called for Sony to co-finance the 007 movies while only getting 25 percent of the profits.

On Jan. 11, the New York Post’s Page Six gossip site said Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is producing Craig’s current Othello off-Broadway play to encourage the actor to do Bond 25 eventually after a hiatus of performing more serious roles.

And the world goes round and round….