Financial help for Bond 23?

William Chase

William Chase

A little item in the June 12 UK Telegraph caught our eye. William Chase, who brought the world Tyrrells Potato Chips and the award-winning Chase Vodka, might be playing fairy godfather to the next James Bond movie.

Nobody at Eon Productions is confirming or denying, but the story is that Chase has approached Barbara Broccoli with some sort of offer of financial backing, for the indefinitely-stalled Bond 23. Our thought is that it isn’t Eon that needs help, it’s 007 co-owners MGM, which has been teetering on the brink of oblivion since the 1980s. Still, it’s a comforting thought to think that somebody with the wherewithal to help is stepping up to the plate.

Obviously, this is all in the rumor stage anyhow, but you can read Next Bond film could well have a Chase in it at the Telegraph’s website for yourself.

Telegraph prediction: 007 will defeat MGM

In a commentary on the Web site of The Telegraph, writer Simon Heffer says James Bond will eventually triumph over Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. The author was prompted by last week’s news that Bond 23 is being delayed until MGM sorts out its financial future.

However, while Heffer describes himself as a fan, he also raises questions about the film series, including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Still, it is hard to imagine even the bankruptcy of MGM killing off James Bond on celluloid, something the world’s leading villains have completely failed to do in nearly 50 years: he and his adventures are always going to be a most marketable asset for anyone strapped for cash. But perhaps the pause in normal service is an ideal moment for those who might shape the next Bond film to ponder on what it ought to be.

What I felt was missing from the last two Bond films – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace – were jokes. Craig, as I have said, was believable as an MI6 agent; but that raised the question of how believable James Bond is supposed to be. He is a complete fantasy figure, and that is his appeal. In the real world, people do not jump out of aircraft at 30,000 feet, have a fight on the way down, and survive. They do not consume strong drink (and, in the old days, cigarettes) with the abandon that Bond does without ending up on a mortuary slab fairly early on. They do not drive performance cars round multi-storey car parks, while being shot at, using their mobile telephones to keep the thing on course. They don’t jump from one building to another and inevitably land safely. Also, when most villains tell someone that they are going to be killed, they normally get killed pretty sharpish, and not after a theatrical delay that allows them to overpower their captors and make an escape.

That’s just a taste. To read the entire commentary YOU CAN CLICK HERE.

Sam Mendes watch: from Bond 23 to Oz prequel?

With Bond 23 being put on the shelf for who knows how long, there are now reports of Sam Mendes, the reportedly Bond 23 director-in-waiting, looking at other projects.

IF YOU CLICK HERE, you can read a story about Mendes may be directing a Wizard of Oz prequel.

UPDATE: THIS ENTRY IN A LOS ANGELES TIMES BLOG may have been where the Sam Mendes/Robert Downey Jr./Wizard of Oz prequel story may have started. An excerpt:

Several weeks ago we wrote that Joe Roth was meeting with newly anointed Disney production president Sean Bailey on a “Wizard of Oz” prequel about the wizard before he came to Oz.

Now we’re hearing that those meetings went well, so well that the project is on a fast track of sorts. According to word in the development community, Robert Downey Jr. is talking to producers about starring as the wizard (hard not to lick your lips at that one).

Meanwhile, two directors are said to be considered top candidates to get behind the camera: “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes (who may have some time on his hands now that “Bond 23” is in trouble) and “Hairspray” and “Bedtime Stories” director Adam Shankman, who most recently pulled the strings from behind the curtain at the Oscars.

(Downey’s and Mendes’ potential involvement, incidentally, were also mentioned earlier today in a tweet from Production Weekly.)

Meanwhile, The Guardian paper in the U.K. HAS A STORY saying that Mendes will direct a stage production of King Lear in 2012. An excerpt:

One of the most admired and bankable pairings in British theatre, actor Simon Russell Beale and director Sam Mendes, will return to the National Theatre in two years’ time for a production of King Lear. It’s their first work at the National since 1998, and Mendes’s first entirely British production since he left the Donmar Warehouse, the tiny London theatre where he forged an international reputation, in 2002.

Appropriate caveats: Mendes was never officially announced as Bond 23’s director, despite the number of reports LIKE THIS ONE or SUCH AS THIS ONE that he was close to be signed or was working on the film as a consultant in preparation for directing.
But the prospect had some Bond fans excited prior to this week’s annoucement that Bond 23 was being indefinitely delayed because of uncertainty surrounding ownership of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise.

Bond 23 “delayed indefinitely”

This just in off the PR Newswire:

Bond 23 Delayed Indefinitely

2010-04-19 19:45:59.645 GMT

LONDON, April 19, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — 007 producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions, today announced they have suspended development on the next James Bond film previously scheduled for release 2011/2012.

“Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on BOND 23 indefinitely. We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of BOND 23,” stated Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli jointly.

EON Productions have produced twenty two James Bond films since 1962. In 1995, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli took over the 007 franchise from Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and are responsible for producing some of the most successful James Bond films ever, including CASINO ROYALE and more recently QUANTUM OF SOLACE. The James Bond franchise is the longest running in film history. EON Productions and Danjaq LLC are affiliate companies and control all worldwide merchandising for James Bond.

Copyright (c) 2002, PR Newswire Europe

Provider ID: 30005922

-0- Apr/19/2010 19:45 GMT

For the moment, we have no additional comments, other than to say that we are shocked but not surprised. Heartbreaking news, indeed.

UPDATE: Because of this development, we have updated this April 15 HMSS Weblog post handicapping the prospects for Bond 23 and three other spy movie projects.

Wall Street Journal interviews Sam Mendes

The Wall Street Journal, in its weekend edition, has an interview in Q-and-A format with director Sam Mendes, the would-be director of Bond 23. There’s not much 007 material.

Is it true that you are directing the next James Bond film?

It’s only speculation and, you know, at the moment there isn’t even a studio to make the James Bond movie, because MGM is for sale.

Of course, the fact that Mendes’ own publicist confirmed the director had been in discussions (with nothing finalized) may mean it’s stronger than just speculation.

Most of the Journal interview concerns a Shakespeare play Mendes is directing. To read the entire story, you can CLICK HERE.

No surprise: MGM wants to study bids

MGM received bids and, no surprise, wants to study them before proceeding. Here’s an exerpt from a story:

The company will start a second phase of its strategic review after evaluating the proposals, Los Angeles-based MGM said today in an e-mailed statement.

To look at the (short) story, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: Here’s Nikki Finke’s take from the afternoon of Jan. 15, with a few, but not many, additional details.

BusinessWeek previews MGM bidding

Bloomberg BusinessWeek is previewing the bidding for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Bids are due on Friday, Jan. 15. An excerpt:

Time Warner Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. are among the likely bidders to rescue the famed yet perennially troubled Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the studio whose lion roars before every movie.

The eventual winner would gain the right to make new James Bond movies, win half of the rights to the next two “Lord of the Rings” movies based on “The Hobbit” and snatch the studio from a possible bankruptcy filing. Nonbinding bids are due Friday.

A sale would be another win for Stephen Cooper, a restructuring expert who joined the company in August after stints reorganizing Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. and Enron Corp. It would also mark the latest change in ownership for a company that has been bought and sold countless times since it was founded in 1924.

The story also explains how MGM got into trouble after its most recent sale, in 2005:

At the time, the private equity buyers, including Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group, were flush with cash and had easy access to credit, allowing investors to heavily borrow to complete the purchase. Comcast sought movies for its cable channels. Sony wanted to make new James Bond and Pink Panther movies and to create another supporter for its Blu-ray high-definition video format.

Although MGM got plenty of licensing fees and revenue from a library that includes 4,000 movie and TV titles, including such classics as “West Side Story” and “Rocky,” the studio failed to create a major new hit.

Once credit markets froze and DVD sales slowed, producing new movies and making interest payments became more difficult. With less money coming in for increasingly stale titles, the value of its library took a dive.

The big question is whether the bids will generate enough funds to pay off about $4 billion in debt, or whether MGM has to file for bankruptcy. Of course, for 007 fans, the real question is how this affects the future of the Bond film franchise, starting with Bond 23. To read the entire story, JUST CLICK HERE.

Finke says Mendes may be Bond 23 ‘consultant,’ as prelude to directing

If Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood blog is correct, Bond 23’s behind the scenes story may have even more intrigue than whatever film eventually comes out.

Here’s the setup from Deadline Hollywood’s report on Bond 23. It references Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, and MGM, the studio that finances and releases them.

(O)nce EON hires a director on their Bond films, it triggers a first payment from MGM. Well, given that MGM is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and EON may have the right to take Bond elsewhere, it stands to reason that the producers wouldn’t want to do anything right away that furthers ownership of Bond #23.

So, Finke reports that people familar with the situation are saying that Eon currently is talking to director Sam Mendes abot signing on as a consultant (which wouldn’t trigger the payment) at this time, with the notion of making him Bond 23’s director later.

“The producers are working on a deal to bring Sam on as consultant with an eye to direct,” one of my insiders says. “Once they put him on as the director, something happens to the contract in terms of ownership. But let me emphasize there’s not any deal done.”

Finke also says that current 007 Daniel Craig “is ‘insisting’ on Mendes’ hiring because the actor was stung by criticism of the last Bond film. (And Sam directed Daniel in Road To Perdition.)”

Finke has a reputation as a tough journalist on the Hollywood beat so her report is more than worth noting.

UPDATE: The story has been confirmed, at least in part, by Mendes’ publicist in a story at The Guardian’s Web site. An excerpt:

Sara Keene, Mendes’s British publicist, confirmed today that the director, who won an Academy Award for his first movie, American Beauty, in 1999, had met representatives of the Bond franchise to discuss the 23rd film in the series, but said nothing had been finalised.

“I can confirm that he has had a meeting, but Sam always has lots of projects on the table that he might direct next,” Keene said. “Sam’s method is to have a number of projects as possible next films and at some point to confirm which film he’s going to do.”

More about Bond 23 delay

The Express newspaper in the U.K. ran a short item about the delay in Bond 23. Some excerpts:

Pre-production has been halted and filming postponed while the future of the Bond franchise hangs in the balance.

Michael G Wilson, who produces the Bond films with Barbara Broccoli, admitted: “We just don’t know enough about the situation to comment but we know it’s uncertain.”

The earliest a new film is likely to go into production is at the end of this year, for release in 2011, a full three years after the last Bond, Quantum Of Solace.

The reason cited, not surprisingly, is the possible sale of MGM, which owns 50 percent of the Bond franchise. The article doesn’t reveal much more but Wilson’s comment is one of the few we’ve seen to address the sitution directly.

To read the complete article just CLICK HERE. Also, to view the version of the story on the Commander Bond Web site (where we first saw it), just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

UPDATE: To view a longer article on this same subject on the MI6 Web site, just CLICK HERE.