Bond 25 speculation heats up via Mark Strong video

Screen capture of now-withdrawn Instagram post by Mark Strong’s trainer.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So do James Bond fans interested in news — any news — about the next 007 film adventure.

In this case, the trainer of actor Mark Strong posted a video of Strong working out on Instagram. “Me and Mark Strong working to a new project,” read the caption. What followed was a series of Bond-related hashtags such as #bond25, #DanielCraig, #MarkStrong, #DannyBoyle and more.

The Instagram post was deleted as was a post on Twitter. Didn’t matter. In the absence of confirmed Bond 25 casting news, it took on a life of its own.

After appropriate qualifications, the Birth.Movies.Death website said this:

Mark Strong, meanwhile, is a great choice for Bond 25, particularly in any kind of action capacity. He’s a rock-solid performer with range, easy-going charm and a great comic sensibility, not to mention a known quantity for Boyle, who directed him in Sunshine.

Or, put another way, “We don’t really know, but here’s why it’s a good idea.”

It should be noted that Strong is a friend of 007 star Daniel Craig. Strong made comments in 2016 that Craig was done as Bond. It wasn’t a correct prediction.

In April, there was a similar reaction, when Dave Bautista put out an Instagram post of himself with a SPECTRE tattoo on his finger where a SPECTRE ring should be. Naturally, there was speculation whether he’d be back in Bond 25.

A year earlier, actor Jeffrey Wright put out a photo of himself from Quantum of Solace which geared up speculation he was going to be in Bond 25.

All of this was taken very, very seriously at the time.

So, we’ll see.

Eon’s new normal (cont.): Q’s comments analyzed

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

So, this week, actor Ben Whishaw, Q in the two most recent James Bond movies, made a few comments to Metro which were deemed news about Bond 25.

“I haven’t had an update for a while. I would imagine, I think they have a release date for next year, so I think by the end of this year we have to have started filming something,” Whishaw was quoted by the website. “Although it has gone strangely quiet, but that’s often the way it goes.”

This was analyzed by Birth. Movies. Death (“Q Is Standing by for BOND 25“) and Screen Rant (“Ben Whishaw Expects Bond 25 To Begin Filming Later This Year“).

And, yes, it was news, at least of a sort. Neither Eon Productions (which makes Bond movies) nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which controls half of the 007 franchise) have said a whole lot for months. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of a news blackout, a nugget becomes news.

It’s another reminder about Eon’s new normal. The Bond franchise has franchise has transitioned from being a film series to more like occasional events not on a set schedule.

In the 1970s, even 1980s, it probably wouldn’t have been much of a story if Desmond Llewelyn, the longest-serving film Q, commented about an upcoming film.

Imagine in that time period if Llewelyn said, “I guess they’re getting ready. They have a release date. So they’d have to start filming something before too long.” That wouldn’t have been a blip.

Also, consider this line from the Screen Rant story: “Whishaw may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Ralph Fiennes (M) or Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In the 1970s, the equivalent would have been: “Llewelyn may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Bernard Lee (M) or Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In those days, it’s not a question a lot of people would have been asking. The show was James Bond and whoever was playing him. Connery is back! (Diamonds Are Forever) Who will be the new Bond? Can Roger Moore make it as the new Bond? (Live And Let Die)

This isn’t a complaint. The world is as it is. And Eon’s new normal is what it is.

Roger Moore’s Live And Let Die diary gets new printing

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman pose with Roger Moore during the filming of Live And Let Die.

Roger Moore’s diary written during the filming of Live And Let Die and published in 1973, is getting a new printing in 2018.

The announcement of the new printing was made on The History Press website and the late star’s official Twitter account, which is still active.

Based on the cover image, the title has been tweaked. The book originally was published as “Roger Moore’s James Bond Diary.” The new printing has the title “The 007 Diaries.”

The original version, in addition to primary image of Moore, also had stills that included Live And Let Die co-stars Jane Seymour and Gloria Hendry. The new printing only has a Moore image, based on what’s on the tweet and History Press website.

Earlier this year, writer Phil Nobile Jr. of Birth.Movies.Death wrote about the original version of the book. 

“It’s so rare to get truly candid thoughts from an actor about a film of theirs,” Nobile wrote. “Performers hit the promotional circuit to support a film’s opening, say a lot of publicist-approved things, and that’s usually that…That’s what makes 1973’s Roger Moore as James Bond 007 such a fascinating, jaw-dropping, and at times fucking surreal read.”

(snip)

“That it was published to coincide with the release of the film is mind-blowing, as Moore just types and types unflattering details about the producers, shooting conditions, and even his own personal peccadilloes.” Nobile’s story also includes short excerpts from the book.

The new printing of the book is scheduled to be published in June.

UPDATE (Nov. 28): The official Roger Moore Twitter feed added a couple of other details.  David Hedison, who played Felix Leiter in Live And Let Die, has written a new foreward. Also, the new printing will be in hardback.

Bond 25: The Lt. Columbo edition

We’ve mentioned before how, like Lt. Columbo, “little things” bother the blog.

Like the good lieutenant those little things can prevent you from sleeping soundly at night.

Well, whatever. These aren’t necessarily new, but these little things aren’t getting resolved.

Why hasn’t a distributor been selected yet? We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of SPECTRE’s world premiere. With SPECTRE, Sony Pictures’ most recent two-movie contract to release 007 films would expire.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer knew it. Sony knew it. Other studios knew it. Supposedly, there were talks started not long after SPECTRE came out.

Yet no decision was made in 2016. The Wall Street Journal reported in early 2017 that MGM spent much of the year negotiating to sell itself to a Chinese buyer but no deal resulted.

By September 2017, The Hollywood Reporter said tech giants Apple and Amazon were looking to get the Bond 25 distribution rights — and possibly snatch all the 007 film rights.

Yet, more than a month later, NOTHING has been announced. Major news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which normally cover Apple and Amazon closely, didn’t even mention the story. You’d think the Journal and Times would find this a juicy story worthy of their time. But no, evidently.

How secure is that announced November 2019 release date? In July, Eon Productions and MGM made separate announcements that Bond 25 would have a November 2019 U.S. release date, with a U.K. release before that.

But neither Eon nor MGM can release a movie. MGM cuts deals with other studios (on a film-by-film basis) to distribute its movies.

Many entertainment news websites take that November 2019 date as a given. But at this point, there isn’t an entity that can actually get the movie into theaters.

Most of the Bond 25 media buzz consists of whether Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve will helm Bond 25. But until a distributor is in place, the movie’s financing (i.e. who will cut the checks) isn’t settled.

With the last two Bond films, distributor Sony financed half of the production. That’s an important detail nobody seems interested in talking about.

What about that Eon might want to sell (after Bond 25) buzz? That idea was raised (sort of) in July by a Birth.Movies.Death writer and (sort of) seconded by the MI6 James Bond website, albeit with caveats. Yet, other major entertainment websites apparently have not pursued that question.

As the blog noted earlier this month, it’s all somewhat peculiar.

Caveat Emptor: 007 sale rumor surfaces

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Amid the announcement that Bond 25 has a release date, the Birth.Movies.Death website dropped the idea that the Broccoli-Wilson clan might sell out its interest in the 007 enterprise in a few years.

The post, by Philip Nobile Jr., mostly looks at why the fall 2019 release date was announced without saying whether actor Daniel Craig will be back as Bond.

After going through some possibilities, Nobile concluded with this:

On the less official front, I have read thoughts from someone I believe to be close wth the production that the Broccolis are looking to do one more Bond then sell the franchise off, a la George Lucas/Star Wars/Disney. If that comes to pass, it will be interesting times indeed for Ian Fleming’s gentleman spy.

Read thoughts? Interesting phrasing. But, on Twitter, Nobile’s post drew a response from the James Bond MI6 website, which previously disclosed that a helicopter Eon purchased wasn’t for Bond 25.

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Putting the Caveat Emptor on this one because Birth.Movies.Death isn’t explicitly reporting it as well as the unusual phrasing of the post and the exchange on Twitter.

Eon and its parent company, Danjaq, jointly control the Bond franchise with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Disclosure: This blog’s webmaster has written two articles for MI6 Confiential, which is published by the James Bond MI6 website.

Separately, the BBC said it “understands” that Craig “has not yet signed a contract” for Bond 25. The New York Times reported Monday that Craig’s return is “a done deal.”

A Sampling of Early Atomic Blonde Reviews

Atomic Blonde poster

Atomic Blonde, this summer’s spy movie, has received mostly positive back in March when the film was shown at the South by Southwest film festival.

The film, starring Charlize Theron, had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 81 percent because of those reviews. It remains to be seen how the score may change with newer reviews that come in ahead of its opening this week.

Regardless, here are some non-spoiler excerpts of reviews.

ERIC KOHN, INDIEWIRE: “The first solo effort by ‘John Wick’ co-director David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ exists in the same realm of hyperstylized action built around the cold ferocity of an unstoppable action star. It only falters when attempting to tie more story around her….Oscillating between the relentless energy of ‘John Wick’ and the dense plotting of a John Le Carré novel, ‘Atomic Blonde’ never quite finds a happy medium between the two. But when Theron goes back to kicking ass, nothing else matters.”

JOHN DEFORE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “The more obvious comparison, of course, is with the latest, earthily violent incarnation of James Bond. As enjoyable as Atomic Blonde can be at times, its main utility may be its demonstration that Theron deserves better than this. If not a reincarnation in which James becomes ‘Bond, Jane Bond,’ then at least something with more staying power than this actioner, which looks good and gets some things right, but is as uninterested in its protagonist’s personality as its generic name suggests.”

ANDREW BARKER, VARIETY: “Lifted from Antony Johnston’s graphic novel ‘The Coldest City,’ ‘Atomic Blonde’s’ heroine is a blank slate of emotionless efficiency. A master of cold stares and even colder line readings, (Theron character) Lorraine’s entire diet appears to consist of frozen Stoli on the rocks…Leitch seems uninterested in developing relationships between his characters, leaving them to scamper about on parallel tracks until the hazy machinations of the plot conspire to bring them together.”

JOANNA ROBINSON, VANITY FAIR: “In Atomic Blonde, (Theron’s) Cold War-era spy character, Lorraine Broughton, brutally dispatches Russian and German agents without ever losing an inch of style. She’s the captivating eye of a rather messy plot storm, and you won’t be able to keep your eyes off her for a second. The film had a triumphant, ecstatic debut at SXSW on Sunday night, but won’t debut in the U.S. until July 28. All other summer blockbusters should just surrender now.”

MEREDITH BORDERS: BIRTH. MOVIES. DEATH:Atomic Blonde gives us so little to actually care about, an exercise in style over substance where even the style starts to grate after a time.”

007 film universe rumor and entertainment websites

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It has been almost a week, but entertainment news websites are still following up on the rumor that Eon Productions wants a 007 film universe.

There hasn’t been anything new, but the rumor is making the rounds.

Here’s how it breaks down. The followups are not a comprehensive list. But this post does contain a shoutout to the original source and a 007 fan account on Twitter that picked up on it.

June 23: Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board website, says in a tweet that, “I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise…simultaneously.”

June 24: @Bond25Film on Twitter does a “quote tweet,” where you can see Sneider’s original tweet. @Bond25Film says (understandably) to take “this with a huge pinch of salt.”

June 24: In full disclosure, @Bond25Film’s “quote tweet” was the first time this blog heard of Sneider’s original tweet. After tracking the original tweet down, the blog did a post the same day plus a June 25 follow-up about questions raised by the rumor.

June 26: Phil Nobile Jr., a writer for Birth. Movies. Death. and a Bond fan, comes out with a post noting the Sneider rumor.

“I’m highly skeptical that this will come to pass, but as a fan of the franchise with no real Bond 25 news to report, I humbly offer these suggestions for opening up the Bondverse,” Nobile writes. His ideas include a prequel for M (the Judi Dench version).

June 28: The Express, in a story with the headline “James Bond SHOCK,” weighs in.

June 28: Esquire also comments on the rumor. “Do We…do we want this?” reads a secondary headline.

June 28: The Playlist, while citing Jeff Sneider, also says, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “might have a contemporary way to keep that money tap open.”

June 29: The Independent, again citing Jeff Sneider, says, “It seems like there’s no franchise on the planet that’s immune from the cinematic universe fever.”

June 29: Add /Film to the list. The site adds this observation: “Also the truth: a James Bond cinematic universe would completely fit in with the series’ modus operandi of borrowing whatever is cool, hip, or popular and making it its own.”