John Logan: writing a 007 film like working at MI6

Bond 24 writer John Logan

Bond 24 writer John Logan

John Logan, Skyfall co-writer and scribe for Bond 24 and Bond 25, has again provided a few tidbits about Bond 24, and working on the 007 films in general.

The first time was IN A FINANCIAL TIMES FEATURE STORY about a new play of his, Peter and Alice. The BBC on its Web site HAS ALSO DONE A STORY ABOUT THE PLAY.

Once again, Logan has provided a few bits of information — nothing that revealing (thus, no need to worry about spoilers), but interesting.

Here’s an excerpt:

Unsurprisingly, he is thrilled by the critical and box office success of Skyfall. “I’m really proud of the movie. I love Skyfall and I love Bond and that’s why I’m doing the next two. I’ve done a lot of big movies but I’ve never done one where everyone cared so much.”

And he deflects enquiries about the progress of Bonds 24 and 25 with practised ease.

“It’s coming together very well, I’m very pleased with where it is. [Producer] Barbara Broccoli once said when you work on a Bond movie it’s like you belong to MI6.”

Those comments aren’t terribly surprising. But Logan told the BBC that there are security measures involved, including use of a paper shredder.

“I thought she was joking but I quickly realised when I had to shred drafts that it really is.”

It might not be an exaggeration. We’ve heard from at least one Bond collector who searches out drafts of 007 scripts that you can’t find one for 2008’s Quantum of Solace, much less 2012’s Skyfall. (For a 2011 HMSS article about drafts of scripts from earlier movies, including 2006’s Casino Royale, CLICK HERE.)

You can read the entire BBC BY CLICKING HERE. If you missed the earlier Financial Times story, you can read it BY CLICKING HERE.

MGM watch: Skyfall helps make studio profitable

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

MGM Holdings Inc., parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said it turned a profit for 2012, much of it on the strength of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

MGM’s profit totaled $129 million for the year on revenue of $1.38 billion. the company said in had an adjusted profit (i.e. what the profit would have been if it didn’t have to pay taxes, interest and other costs) of $286 million, according to a company statement. That measure, known as EBITDA (or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), is used by some investors as a way to gauge a company’s financial performance.

MGM said it was the first studio to have back-to-back films with $1 billion or more in ticket sales each. The company had a $40.2 million profit for the year’s fourth quarter (a period that included the releases of Skyfall and The Hobbit), and $147.7 million EBITDA. That compares with an $11 million loss (and $19.4 million EBITDA profit) for 2011’s fourth quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $902.6 million. or 65 percent of the revenue MGM had for the entire year.

MGM co-financed both of its hit movies, Skyfall with Sony Pictures and The Hobbit with Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Skyfall also involved splitting the take with Eon Productions, which produces the 007 films.

MGM went through bankruptcy in 2010, which resulted in the current executive team led by CEO Gary Barber being installed.

Two thoughts about Bond 24

Not directing Bond 24

Not directing Bond 24

At this point, we know more about what’s not happening with Bond 24 than what will.

It won’t be directed by Sam Mendes (because he took his name out of the running), Christopher Nolan (who had a conflicting engagement directing a science fiction movie due out in November 2014) or Danny Boyle (because, according to TYHER PLAYLIST WEB SITE he told an audience he’s not interested in that type of movie).

But there have been some items published recently that spur a couple of thoughts:

Sam Mendes declining to have a go at Bond 24 might not be that bad a thing. Many fans are disappointed that the director of Skyfall won’t be back for Bond 24. So is the co-boss of Eon Proudctions, Barbara Broccoli, who in stories SUCH AS THIS ONE described herself as devastated by Mendes’s decision.

Still, stop and think about it. Directing Bond 24 will involve six or seven months of production and months of preparation and pre-production work and additional time in post-production. If somebody doesn’t want to do something, or simply isn’t sure, they probably shouldn’t take on such a huge task until they’re ready.

Had Mendes, after a couple of months off from the Skyfall post-production grind, decided he really, really wanted to do Bond 24, that’d be one thing. But based on the director’s comments, he doesn’t seem to be at that point. With a huge endeavor such as Bond 24 is likely to be, it’s perhaps best to let somebody who’s more geared up to try.

Maybe John Logan should get a chance to write more before a director is chosen. Nobody really knows, except a precious few people at Eon, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures, how far along the co-scripter of Skyfall is in crafting a Bond 24 story.

Some directors like to see a developed story before committing to a major project. For example, Roger Michell was approached about directing what would become 2008’s Quantum of Solace. There were various stories (such as THIS ONE ON THE MI6 007 FAN WEB SITE) where Michell was quoted as saying the script was developed enough for him to take the job.

Whatever the status of Logan’s work on Bond 24’s story, perhaps Logan should have sufficient time before worrying too much about who will direct the next 007 film.

John Logan’s (brief) comments about 007’s film future

Bond 24 writer John Logan

Bond 24 writer John Logan

The Financial Times on March 8 published A FEATURE STORY ABOUT WRITER JOHN LOGAN. The story is mostly about Peter and Alice, a new play he wrote with Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. But the co-writer of Skyfall does have a brief comment about 007’s film future.

The FT’s Sarah Hemming writes that Logan, hired to pen the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25, in her words “hopes to build on Skyfall in examining the complexities of Bond’s character.”

“Fleming’s courage in showing Bond’s fear and vulnerability and depression was really interesting and something that a modern audience can accept,” Hemming quotes Logan as saying. “I think Skyfall demonstrated that they want more layers to that character. And those are the layers that Fleming wrote.”

To view the entire FT article (headlined “After Bond, Peter meets Alice”), just CLICK HERE.

Logan was brought into Skyfall by director Sam Mendes to rewrite a script by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. All three scribes shared the final writing credit. Mendes said this week he won’t direct Bond 24.

Also, here’s a quick note of appreciation to The James Bond Dossier, where we found out about the FT story. You can read that Web site’s post on the subject by CLICKING HERE.

Mendes tells Empire he won’t direct Bond 24

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes told Empire magazine IN AN INTERVIEW he has opted not to direct Bond 24.

An excerpt:

“Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.”

Skyfall had worldwide ticket sales of more than $1.1 billion. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, had been courting Mendes to return for the next 007 film, which is being scripted by John Logan, one of the three Skyfall scribes.

No director has worked on consecutive Bond films since John Glen helmed For Your Eyes Only through Licence to Kill in the 1980s. Since 1995, only Martin Campbell has directed more than one and his two (GoldenEye and Casino Royale) were more than a decade apart.

Last month, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, who had a number of Skyfall scoops that were proven correct, said, “Mendes hasn’t firmly made up his mind about directing another Bond, but I’m reliably told he’s ‘75 per cent’ of the way towards doing it.” Evidently, the 25 percent won out.

For the full Empire story, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: There’s a short STATEMENT on the official 007.com Web site. It repeats Mendes’s quote in Empire. It adds this from Wilson and Broccoli which was also in the Empire story:

Bond’s next director has yet to be decided, but producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli had nothing but praise for Mendes: “We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam. He directed our most successful Bond movie ever, SKYFALL. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again.”

Comparing 1982 and 2013 Oscars from a 007 view

oscar

The Oscars on Oct. 24 had the biggest 007 presence since 1982. So how did the two nights compare?

For 007 fans, this year’s Oscars were a mixed bag. Skyfall won two Oscars, breaking a 47-year Oscar drought. But a promised Bond tribute seemed rushed and some fans grumbled that Skyfall should have come away with more awards.

Skyfall came away with the Oscar for Best Song after three previous 007 tries (Live And Let Die, Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only) as well as best sound editing in a tie with Zero Dark Thirty. But neither director of photography Roger Deakins or composer Thomas Newman scored an award, continuing their personal Oscar losing streaks.

Anyway, the 1982 and 2013 Oscars shows had one thing in common: Each had a montage of James Bond clips. In ’82, it was presented just before Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving R. Thalberg Award, given to a producer for his or her body of work. That montage included dialogue, including different actors getting to say, “My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Thirty-one years later, there was another montage, a little snappier but clips still familiar to most 007 fans. The clips were accompanied by The James Bond Theme and an instrumental version of Live And Let Die.

The 1982 show had a big production, with Sheena Easton performing For Your Eyes Only (nominated for Best Song, but which lost) along with a Moonraker-themed dance number that included appearances by Richard Kiel as Jaws and Harold Sakata as Oddjob. In 2013, the clip montage led to Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger and drawing a standing ovation. And then….well, the 007 tribute was over. Adele performed Skyfall separately as one of the Best Song nominees.

In 1982, Roger Moore introduced Cubby Broccoli. In 2013, no Bonds appeared. Supposedly, that wasn’t the original plan, according to Nikki Finke, editor-in-chief of the Deadline entertainment news Web site. In a “LIVE SNARK” FROM THE OSCARS, she wrote:

The Academy and the show’s producers hoped to gather together all the living 007 actors. But Sean Connery refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family. Something about how he thinks they cheated him out of money he was owed. Then Pierce Brosnan refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family as well. Something about how he thinks they pulled him from the role too early. Roger Moore was dying to come because, well, he’s a sweetheart. And Daniel Craig would have come because he does what he’s told by the Broccoli family’s Eon Productions whose Bond #23 Skyfall just went through the box office global roof. So there you have it.

Finkke didn’t say how she came by this information. In mid-February, her site ran an interview with the producers of the Oscars show and that story said the six Bond film actors wouldn’t appear at the show and referred to “rampant media speculation” concerning such a joint appearance. Still, her Web site was the first to report that Sam Mendes was likely to direct Skyfall, so it can’t be disregarded completely.

In any case, the 1982 show had something not available to the producers of the Oscars show this year: Cubby Broccoli. He gave a particularly gracious speech when accepting his Thalberg award. He acknowledged both of his former partners, Irving Allen and Harry Saltzman, despite substantial differences of opinion he had with them in the past.

In the end, that speech sets the 1982 show apart from a 007 perspective despite the record two 007 wins for Skyfall. We’ve embedded it before, but here it is once more:

Skyfall breaks 007’s 47-year Oscar drought

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image


RECAP (11:55 p.m.): Skyfall won two Oscars, the first 007 film to win more than one. Goldfinger and Thunderball won one apiece. It broke a 47-year Oscar drought for the Bond series. The highest profile win was Best Song by Adele and Paul Epworth, finally giving the series a win after three previous Best Song nominations.

UPDATE IV (11:20 p.m.): Skyfall finally broke the 007 Best Song jinx, winning the Oscar for Adele and Paul Epworth (Best Song Oscars go to the songwriters, not the performer). Adele thanked producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

007 films had been nominated for Best Song three times with no wins: Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. Classic Bond songs such as Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever were never nominated.

A few minutes earlier, Skyfall’s Thomas Newman lost to Life of Pi’s Mychael Danna. Skyfall ends the evening with two wins out of five categories.

UPDATE III (11:03 p.m.): Earlier Adele performed Skyfall. Reaction was mixed in our quick survey of social media. Some fans felt she nailed it, others felt there were too many backup singers or other flaws. Afterwards, two musicians with ties to the 007 series made the “In Memoriam” segment: Hal David, who wrote lyrics for the 1967 Casino Royale spoof, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 1979’s Moonraker; and Marvin Hamlisch, who scored 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Hamlisch was nominated twice for Spy (score and for “Nobody Does It Better”) but didn’t pick up any wins that night.

UPDATE II (10:20 p.m.): Skyfall broke 007’s 47-year Oscar drought by tying with Zero Dark Thirty for sound editing. Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers picked up Oscars, though they started to get shooed off the stage as the orchestra played the theme from Jaws.

It was the first win for a Bond movie since John Stears won for special effects for 1965’s Thunderball. Just before that, film lost the sound award to Les Miserables.

UPDATE I (9:28 p.m.): Halle Berry introduced the James Bond tribute segment, comprised of clips from the movies accompanied by the James Bond Theme and an instrumental of Live And Let Die.

Immediately after, Shirley Bassey appeared and did a rendition of Goldfinger, with a very traditional sounding arrangement. It was the Bond highlight so far after Roger Deakins’s loss. Twitter lit up with users commenting about Dame Shirley’s performance.

However, Ezra Klein, a political commentator, wasn’t impressed with the 007 tribute part. He wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations, Oscars, you managed to make the Bond franchise look unexciting.”

ORIGINAL POST: Roger Deakins, nominated for his cinematography in Skyfall, lost to Life of Pi’s Claudio Moranda.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, has been nominated for five awards, the most in the history of the Bond film series. The previous 007 record was held by The Spy Who Loved Me with three nominations (and no wins).

Still to come as of 9:12 p.m. are the best song, best score and two sound categories where Skyfall has been nominated. For now, 007’s 47-year Oscar drought continues. The last Bond movie to get an Oscar was 1965’s Thunderball for special effects. A tribute to James Bond movies is coming up.