Bond 25 questions: The NTTD script edition

No Time to Die poster

United Artists Releasing, as part of its push to get No Time to Die as many awards as possible. had posted online a PDF of the movie’s final script.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What was the name of Bond’s boat in Jamaica?

Happenstance. That would appear to evoke a passage from the Goldfinger novel.

Goldfinger said, ‘Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago. “Once is Happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”‘

Admittedly, it slipped by me that Bond’s boat was named Happenstance. Did No Time to Die have boats named Coincidence and Enemy Action?

How does the script describe Bond’s life in Jamaica?

Here’s how:

EXT. DECK – BOND’S HOUSE -DAY

He visibly relaxed, walking at an island pace. A Bond we’ve never seen before.

How does the script introduce Paloma (Ana De Armas)?

Like this:

Bond sees a woman in an elegant BLUE DRESS leaning against the counter sipping a drink: PALOMA

Bond approaches, ready for flirtatious banter. She looks up —

BOND

Paloma?

PALOMA

You’re late. Vamos

How does the script describe Bond’s death?

EXT. ROOF OF OLD CONTROL ROOM

Bond arrives at the roof. He has a view to the water and Madeline’s island in the distance. INTERCUT with Madeline.

BOND

Madeline. You have made the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. She’s perfect because she came from you.

MADELINE

Oh God! The vial. You’ve been poisoned?

(snip)

Long contrails of smoke streak from the distance to dozens of white points of light, moving faster and faster toward him.

The missiles break into clusters as they spread for maximum effect. Bond knows he has only milliseconds. He seems to find peace. Breathes in deeply, finding some quiet before —

A massive wave of explosions ripple towards Bond in a strobing and flashing cloud of light.

United Artists Releasing makes a NTTD script available

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis. (Paul Baack illustration)

United Artists Releasing, which distributed No Time to Die in the U.S., has made a version of the movie’s script available as part of a push to get awards for the Bond film.

UAR has put a PDF of the script online. It’s described as a final script. That suggests it reflects the final version of the movie seen in theaters, pay-per-view, and home video.

As a result, there are likely no clues as to which writers (the credited Neal Purvis and Robert Wade team, director Cary Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as well as the uncredited Scott Z. Burns) contributed what.

Still, for those who collect Bond scripts, there are interesting tidbits in the stage directions.

For example, there is this passage when the movie switches from a young Madeline Swann to an adult one.

EXT. GROTTO ON THE SEA, ITALY – DAY

SOUNDS OF OCEAN WAVES CRASHING

Madeline breaks the surface of the water as if Safin was pulling her out –

She gasps but is frozen — opens her eyes, he is gone. It was just a vision.

BOND stands like Adonis on a lido overlooking the sea. She turns, feeling his eyes on her.

BOND

You okay?

Madeline smiles, burying the past trauma. She’s been dealing with this for years.

United Artists Releasing is a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, and Annapurna Pictures.

Broccoli: No steps toward selecting new Bond

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli spoke to The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast in an episode posted this week. The Eon Productions boss celebrated Daniel Craig’s long run as James Bond and again said she’s not in a hurry to pick his sucessor.

“To be honest, we’re not looking right now. We’re not in the conversation right now,” she said toward the end of a 30-minute interview. “We are living in the present moment and it’s a joyful moment, it’s a celebratory moment. We’re celebrating Daniel’s extraordinary achievement over 16 years.”

“We want to live in this moment for as long as possible and really applaud Daniel and really enjoy it. At some point later, we’ll sit down and think about the future. Right now, I want to live in the present and it’s a very happy place to be right now.”

The podcast also featured an interview with Craig of about an hour.

No Time to Die was released last year following five delays, three related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25th Bond film made by Eon had a global theatrical run of $774 million and is now available on home video.

Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, last year agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $8.45 billion. That deal hasn’t closed yet. It’s uncertain whether Amazon will make major changes at MGM. Broccoli has repeatedly said she’s not interested in streaming show spinoffs related to Bond.

Bond 25 questions: Final box office edition

No Time to Die poster released Sept. 1.

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, has more or less reached the end of its theatrical release. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What are the final numbers? It’s not final, but it appears No Time to Die will come in globally at No. 2 among non-Chinese movies ($774 million) while No. 007 in the U.S. ($160.8 million), behind Spider-Man No Way Home, Shang-Chi, and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Black Widow, F9: The Fast Saga, and Eternals.

Behind the Eternals? Really? Eternals was commonly viewed as a weak entry (box office wise) since Marvel began making its own movies with 2008’s Iron Man. But, yes, Eternals came a bit ahead, in the U.S., of No Time to Die.

How do you explain the difference for No Time to Die globally vs. the U.S.?

Beats me.

Eon Productions, for years (at least since 2015), says it controls the marketing of Bond films and studios merely execute those plans.

Since at least 1997, Eon talking points include how women characters in Bond newer films are much stronger than characters in classic Bond films. (Honey Rider, Tatiana Romonva, Pussy Galore, Domino, et. al.)

By now, it’s routine for Bond actresses to proclaim their characters are much stronger than earlier Bond women characters.

In 2012, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli told The Evening Standard, ““Fortunately, the days of Bond girls standing around with a clipboard are over.”

More recently, No Time to Die director Cary Funkunaga said the Sean Connery version of Bond was “basically” a rapist.

Also, Daniel Craig, in the midst of a 15-year as Bond, said the character was a misogynist. (Definition: “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.”) When your star calls the character he’s playing that way, it’s hard to argue the point.

That’s especially true when Barbara Broccoli considers Craig the best Bond ever.

Is it time to revamp U.S. Bond film marketing in the U.S.?

Perhaps. Until now, nobody has ever called Eon on its U.S. marketing strategy.

Does anything change in the future?

We’ll see once Amazon completes its acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. Maybe there will be changes. Maybe not.

About genre movies fighting for Oscars love

No Time to Die poster

Studios are in the midst of their blitz to get some love from the Oscars. And that includes lobbying efforts for genre movies to gain some recognition.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, James Bond’s home studio, has been lobbying for No Time to Die to get awards while the ultimate goal is the Oscars. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios are moving to get Spider-Man No Way Home some Oscar love.

Once upon a time, popular movies did pretty well at the Oscars. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), a Cecil B. DeMille schlockfest *won* the Best Picture Oscar. I like Greatest Show but there’s no denying the schlock factor.

Star Wars (1977) was nominated for Best Picture. The movie won Oscars for art direction and score among other awards but fell short of actually winning Best Picture.

In more recent decades, it’s been hard for genre movies to get a lot of Oscar recognition outside of technical awards. There were some exceptions such as Best Actor awards for The Dark Knight (2008) and The Joker (2019). Ironically, both actors involved (Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix) played different versions of the same character.

It’s kind of tough to get Oscar love for playing a hero in a genre movie.

One big exception was Black Panther (2018), a Marvel film that was a big hit while highlighting a Black cast. It got a Best Picture nomination and won a few Oscars, including best score.

All of which brings us to the current situation. MGM is pushing a bit of everything, including star Daniel Craig, director Cary Fukunaga, the writing team and, of course, Best Picture.

Meanwhile, Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman (who said he hates Spider-Man No Way Home) presented a somewhat cynical reason why the academy should nominate the comic book movie anyway.

 If you want an Academy Awards telecast that wins more eyeballs than it loses, you’re going to have to nominate some of the movies that win eyeballs. I don’t disagree with that argument, and in a sense it’s the one I’m making. But this isn’t simply about numbers. It’s about a perception that drives the numbers. Sure, if “No Way Home” gets nominated, a swath of its vast fan base might tune into the Oscars that wouldn’t have otherwise. But what I’m really talking about is the essential idea that movies are, and always have been, a populist art form. If that dimension of cinema isn’t respected, something has gone wrong.

We’ll see how this turns out. The Bond films went almost 50 years between Oscars wins (special effects for Thunderball and two awards for Skyfall). Skyfall got five nominations and won two. But the Bond series has never been nominated for acting or directing.

As for Spider-Man No Way Home? Who knows? Actors and directors love to dump on comic book-based movies but a number of stars have signed on comic book-based movies.

Happy New Year 2022 from The Spy Command

Our annual greeting

It’s the end of another year. Here’s hoping for a great 2022 for readers of The Spy Command.

This year will see the 60th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise. It will be a natural occasion for reflection. That may lead to a lot of fan discussion. Perhaps we’ll find out who will succeed Daniel Craig as the cinematic Bond.

We’ll see.

And, as Napoleon Solo reminds everyone, be sure to party responsibly this New Year’s Eve (even in a hunkered down, pandemic way).

Happy New Year, everyone.

Bond 25 questions: 007 vs. Spidey at the box office

“What? We’re not No. 1 anymore?”

To be honest, it seemed as if No Time to Die had secured the title of No. 1 film at the global box office among non-Chinese movies. Yes, Spider-Man No Way Home was expected to do very well. But it had a Dec. 17 release date.

Surely, the 25th James Bond film would hold on for the end of calendar 2021. Well, no. Spider-Man No Way Home has passed the $1 billion global box office mark.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What happened with No Time to Die?

It’s going to finish 2021 as the No. 2 global film (behind Spider-Man No Way Home) among non-Chinese movies. So that’s not a flop.

However, a significant development was how No Time to Die’s U.S. box office performance didn’t match relatively recent Bond films.

In the U.S., No Time to Die generated $160.8 million at the box office, coming in at (00)7 for the year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But Bond in the U.S. lagged the rest of the globe.

By contrast, 2012’s Skyfall produced a box office of $304.4 million while 2015’s SPECTRE had $200.1 million. And those figures don’t take into account higher movie ticket prices.

No Time to Die, of course, had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in three delays in the film’s release date.

OK, but why did Spider-Man do so well?

Spider-Man No Way Home wasn’t just a single Spidey movie. It was an epic.

The thing to compare the Spider-Man movie to is 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The latter was a de facto Avengers movie. The centerpiece was multiple Marvel characters (one side led by Cap, the other side led by Iron Man) slugging it out.

Spider-Man No Way Home includes one Marvel character (Dr. Strange) with another (not naming him here to avoid spoilers) making a cameo. Villains from previous Spider-Man films make an appearance. And there are major developments that occur.

Anything else to keep in mind?

Spider-Man is part of a large universe of characters. Bond is the centerpiece of a smaller universe.

One more thing: Spider-Man debuted in 1962, the same year that the Bond film series made by Eon Productions began. Spidey is hardly an edgy creation that came out of left field. Like Bond, Spider-Man has been popular for decades.

Spider-Man passes NTTD for No. 1 non-Chinese movie

Spider-Man No Way Home has passed No Time to Die for the title of No. 1 box office among non-Chinese movies, according to Deadline: Hollywood.

Spider-Man’s most recent global box office figure is $813.9 million, Deadline said.

Until now, No Time to Die held the mantle of No. 1 non-Chinese movie at $774 million. The 25th James Bond film has mostly ended its theatrical run. No Time to Die this week became available for sale for home video release.

Spider-Man No Way Home, essentially, is a live-action version of Spider-Man Into the Spider Verse, a 2018 animated film that featured different versions of Spider-Man in different dimensions. The new live-action Spider-Man movie features multiple Marvel Comics characters. The film was made by Sony Pictures (which has the rights to Spider-Man) and Marvel Studios.

The new Spider-Man movie was expected to do well at the box office. But since its release last week, it has performed better than expected.

Spider-Man No Way Home Becomes No. 1 2021 U.S. release

UPDATE (Dec. 20): The final U.S. weekend figures released Monday came in higher ($260 million) than the estimate released Sunday, Exhibitor Relations Co. said. The revised global box office is now $600.8 million.

ORIGINAL POST (Dec. 19): Spider-Man No Way Home seized the title of No. 1 box office movie in 2021 on its first weekend.

The Sony release made by Marvel Studios will generate a U.S. box office of $253 million for the Dec. 17-19 weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office data.

Spider-Man also scored an international box office of $334.2 million for a worldwide take of $587.2 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The top global movie not made in China is No Time to Die at $771.3 million.

Until now, the No. 1 U.S. release was Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at $224.5 million. The No. 1 U.S. weekend had belonged to Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage at $90 million.

Spider-Man No Way Home’s opening weekend beckoned to the pre-pandemic era where blockbuster movies could generate enormous box office quickly.

The movie is the third to star Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Sony has the film rights to Spider-Man and has made Spidey films since 2002. The Holland films are, more or less, a joint Sony-Marvel effort. Holland also appeared as the character in three Marvel movies, including two Avengers films.

Spider-Man No Way Home also includes Marvel’s Dr. Strange character played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Spider-Man No Way Home gets off to hot start

Spider-Man No Way Home poster

Spider-Man No Way Home, the third movie starring Tom Holland as the web-slinger, this week got off to a blistering start in both the U.K. and U.S.

The film had an opening day box office of 7.6 million pounds ($10.1 million) in the U.K., The Hollywood Reporter said, citing the U.K. Cinema Association. That beat out No Time to Die on its opening day and was “the biggest opening day of all time for a Wednesday,” according to THR.

On Thursday, the movie generated $50 million in preview showings, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office data.

That was No. 3 all-time for U.S. preview showings, although an asterisk was involved — the preview showings began earlier than normal for Spider-Man No Way Home.

Still, the results are welcome news for both Sony, which has the rights to the character, and Marvel Studios, which since 2017 had made Spider-Man films with Sony.

Spider-Man No Way Home adopts a “multi-verse” approach featuring villains (and the actors who played them) from Sony-made Spider-Man films of the past. Also present is Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the Marvel sorcerer who appeared in one solo Marvel movie and two Marvel Avengers films.

Dr. Strange was created by artist Steve Ditko and his earliest stories were by Ditko and Stan Lee. The Lee-Ditko team also created Spider-Man.

Since Avengers: Endgame in 2019, Marvel has come out with movies featuring lesser-known characters, Shang Chi and the Eternals. Spider-Man is the most popular Marvel character but one Marvel Studios has to share with Sony.

The release of Spider-Man No Way Home also comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, including a new COVID variant. COVID had forced the delay of various movies, including No Time to Die.