Broccoli, Wilson discuss Bond’s future (a bit)

No Time to Die logo

The Sunday Times, one of press baron Rupert Murdoch’s “respectable” publications (as opposed to his tabloids), published a big story about the saga of No Time to Die. Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson talk a bit about the future of the cinematic James Bond.

Wilson, 79, told the newspaper that the way star Daniel Craig has played the part of Bond since 2006’s Casino Royale may carry over in the future.

“Daniel’s made an indelible impression,” Wilson told The Sunday Times. “So it’s inevitable that what he brought will be, in some way, incorporated.”

At the same time, both Wilson and his half-sibling, 61, left themselves some wiggle room.

Concerning potential future Bond actors, Wilson added: “We don’t have any frontrunners — we haven’t even thought about it — but whoever it is will take on the role and adapt the character to their personality. It’s always been the case.”

Here was Broccoli’s take:

“It’s a big decision for us because we’re entering into a partnership with an actor,” the Eon boss told The Sunday Times.

“It’s not like casting a movie when you find the best actor at the time — it’s about resetting the whole template for the movies to come. So it’s not just about what colour hair an actor has and if they fit a certain type — it’s about where you want to take the movies and what you want to say. And we have to make that decision. We’re not going to make it based on polls.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. Broccoli avoided specifics how that $8.45 billion deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, could affect Bond’s future.

 “The truth is we don’t know,” Broccoli told The Sunday Times. “Until the deal is approved and we are able to get into deep discussions with them we don’t know. At the moment we’re not really any more enlightened about what they want to do and how they see things and how we fit in.”

The article goes over a lot of No Time to Die history many fans are familiar with. For example, the Danny Boyle saga, his departure as director, the hiring of Cary Fukunaga as Boyle’s replacement as director and the uncertainty, for a time, whether Craig would come back for a fifth Bond film. Craig also has a number of quotes where he had f-bombs in his quotes, but they’re cleaned up.

The Sunday Times piece also is full of Bond-related puns such as sub-headlines that read “Never Say Never — Again!” “Doctor Oh No,” “From China with Love,” and “Die? Another Day.”

The story is behind a paywall except for a short preview.

Eon says (again) it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon in November 2011

Eon Productions has said, yet again, it’s not interested in James Bond spinoffs such as streaming TV versions of 007-related characters.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the half-siblings atop Eon, spoke to Total Film (it’s not clear this is from a previous Total Film interview or a new one), which was posted online by Games Radar.

“We make films. We make films for the cinema. That’s what we do,” Broccoli, 61 and the daughter of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, told Total Film.

 “We’ve resisted that call for 60 years,” added Wilson, 79 and stepson of Albert R. Broccoli.

Amazon, which airs original streaming programming, has agreed to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, in a deal valued at $8.45 billion. The acquisition is pending, subject to regulatory review, including an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Wilson has been involved full-time in the Bond franchise since 1972. Barbara Broccoli has been active full-time since 1982. Both had Bond-related activities (Wilson as a Goldfinger extra, Barbara Broccoli writing captions for publicity stills for The Spy Who Loved Me) before their full-time involvement.

It also doesn’t appear the Eon leaders have thought that much about Bond 26.

“It’s tough to think about the future until this film has its moment,” Barbara Broccoli told Total Film. “I think we just really want to celebrate this (No Time to Die) and celebrate Daniel, and then when the dust settles, then look at the landscape and figure out what the future is.” No Time to Die is the fifth and final Bond movie for star Daniel Craig.

No Time to Die’s world premiere is scheduled for Sept. 28 and its U.K. release on Sept. 30. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to debut in the U.S. on Oct. 8.

UPDATE: Jack Lugo of James Bond Radio reminds me that Eon was deeply involved with the syndicated James Bond Jr. cartoon show of the early 1990s. The title character was James Bond’s nephew. Michael G. Wilson shared a “developed by” credit on that cartoon series.

UPDATE II: Here’s a screen shot from the end titles of the first episode of James Bond Jr.

Bond 26 questions: The ‘next iteration’ edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

No Time to Die still isn’t out but there has been some news related to Bond 26. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you make of recent Broccoli-Wilson comments?

In a July 6 story in The New York Times, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions spoke up in support of two current Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film executives.

“Mike and Pam understand that we are at a critical juncture and that the continuing success of the James Bond series is dependent on us getting the next iteration right and will give us the support we need to do this,” the Eon duo said in a statement of Michael De Luca, chairman of MGM’s Motion PIcture Group, and his deputy, Pamela Abdy. (emphasis added)

Until late September 2020, Broccoli wouldn’t publicly acknowledge that No Time to Die would be Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie. ““It is the fifth and final one that Daniel Craig is going to be doing,” Broccoli said on an episode of the official No Time to Die podcast that would soon go into hiatus because the movie got delayed.

Evidently, Eon likes how De Luca and Abdy are managing MGM’s film unit. But their future is uncertain with Amazon’s pending $8.45 billion acquisition of James Bond’s home studio.

Eon controls creative matters related to the cinema Bond. The Broccoli-Wilson statement looks like a strong suggestion to Amazon to not shake up MGM’s film operation when the Bond franchise is on the verge of another transition and yet another new film Bond.

Did the list of possible new film Bond actors just go down by one?

Over the past few years, entertainment outlets and websites have speculated about who might take over Craig’s shoulder holster. One name that comes up a lot is British actor Henry Cavill.

However, this week, it came out that Cavill will be in a new Matthew Vaughn-directed spy film, Argylle.

Once upon a time, when Cavill was in his early 20s, he tested for Bond. He came in behind Craig.

Since then, Cavill’s ability to anchor film franchises has been a so-so affair. He was in one solo Superman movie and appeared as the Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. But his future as Superman looks dicey. Cavill starred in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but that movie didn’t resonate with audiences and no additional U.N.C.L.E. films followed.

Cavill was a supporting player in a Mission: Impossible movie and has starred in a popular streaming show, The Witcher.

The actor is now 38, the same age Craig was when he was cast as Bond. But Cavill’s chances of being cast as Bond may be running out — assuming he ever had a chance in the first place. Would Eon want to cast a Bond actor who has been in two different spy movies? I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Film and literary 007: Is there a plan going forward?

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

In the next year, James Bond fans (hopefully) will get to view a new film (No Time to Die) and a new novel (title yet to be chosen).

What happens after that? Does either the cinematic Bond or the literary Bond have a plan for the future?

No Time to Die was filmed in 2019 after starting pre-production two years earlier. A third 007 continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz was announced today by Ian Fleming Productions.

The thing is, the film and literary franchises are on the same track. Each pushes out “events” with no regular releases.

Back in the day, Ian Fleming cranked out novels annually. This was copied during the continuation novel eras of John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Since then? Not so much.

Once upon a time, James Bond movies came out every two or three years. Today? Absolutely not. If No Time to Die makes its (current ) release date, it will have been a six-year gap since SPECTRE.

With the novel, Anthony Horowitz has made an impact with readers. But he operates in the original Ian Fleming timeline. He’s done mid-career (Trigger Mortis) and and the start of his career (Forever And a Day). The new novel picks up with the end of Fleming’s final novel, The Man With the Golden Gun.

Back in 2010, Ian Fleming Publications hired Jeffery Deaver to do a new novel (Carte Blanche) that was supposed to be a start of a new, timeshifted series. Remember that? Well, here’s a video where he talked about the concept:

Never mind. Deaver’s novel was never followed up upon.

Is there anyplace yet to go with the current course? Horowitz comes out with another novel with Bond at the one-quarter phase of his career? His three-quarter phase? His five-sixth phase?

With the films? Who knows. Eon opted to reboot things with 2006’s Casino Royale. No Time to Die (apparently) deals with many loose ends after 2015’s SPECTRE.

Fine. But what happens with Bond 26, whenever that comes out?

Netflix is paying more than $400 million for two Knives Out sequels. It’s hard to imagine Daniel Craig (who has suffered various injuries playing Bond) coming back to play Bond again when he can make good money with less stress. That won’t make Eon boss Barbara Broccoli happy.

The point is both the film and literary Bond franchises are at a key point. There’s a lot to anticipate the next couple of years. But is there much after that?

We’ll see.

A ridiculously early list of possible Bond 26 directors

Susanne Bier

British bookmakers love to set odds on who the next James Bond actor will be to generate bets. The blog decided, instead, to ponder who the director for Bond 26 — whenever that happens — will be.

So here’s a look at some possibilities. It’s far from a comprehensive list.

Susanne Bier: Bier directed The Night Manager, a television adaptation of a John le Carre novel. In mid-2016, The RadioTimes outlet reported Bier was on a shortlist of candidates to direct Bond 25, later No Time to Die.

That, of course, didn’t happen. First, Danny Boyle was hired to direct, then after “creative differences,” Cary Fukunaga came aboard.

Still, if Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli wants to make more James Bond history, hiring Bier as the franchise’s first woman director would accomplish that. Bier also has admirers who cite The NIght Manager as a significant work.

Denis Villeneuve: In 2017, Villeneuve’s name was reported to be a leading contender to direct Bond 25. The Daily Mail even had a report that Bond 25/No Time to Die star Daniel Craig wanted Villeneuve.

The director told a podcast the possibility came up but he was already busy working on a new version of Dune.

 “It’s a matter of timing, I guess,” he said on the podcast. Will the timing be better for Bond 26?

Christopher Nolan: This is a perennial possibility. Nolan is a Bond fan. He’s done homages to Bond movies in his own films. A Bond fan site in 2017 claimed Nolan was “more than likely” to direct Bond 25. That got shot down pretty quickly, including by Nolan himself in a BBC interview in February 2018.

The main question concerns how Nolan works. He typically gets complete control over his projects with his Syncopy company handling production. Can Syncopy and Eon egos co-exist?

Guy Ritchie: Ritchie’s name also came up as a Bond 25 director possibility in 2016, thanks to a Mirror story. There’s no sign Ritchie actually met with Eon.

Ritchie’s box office success the past decade has been mixed. However, Eon has a history of signing directors who haven’t had a hit in a while (Michael Apted and Sam Mendes). So who knows?

Cary Fukunaga: Eon has a history of every so often bringing directors in for consecutive films: Terence Young for Dr. No and From Russia With Love, Guy Hamilton for three consecutive films, Lewis Gilbert for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, John Glen for five straight films and Sam Mendes for Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Does Fukunaga rate similar treatment? He certainly took on a daunting task directing No Time to Die after Danny Boyle exited the project.

To read more about how these four came up during the development of No Time to Die, check out PART ONE of The Bond 25 timeline.

Bond 26 and beyond

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Bond fans are waiting for another delay for the release of No Time to Die/Bond 25. If/when (probably when) that happens, the bigger question is for Bond 26 and beyond.

No Time to Die was a pre-COVID-19 movie with pre-COVID-19 finances. The 25th James Bond film ran up costs approaching $290 million as of mid-2020, according to a U.K, regulatory filing.

But, hey, it was a contender for a theatrical box office of $1 billion or more (split with theaters). Certainly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) and Danjaq LLC (parent company of Eon Productions) were working on that assumption.

Then, of course, COVID-19 changed everything. Theaters were shut down in many regions. And the virus — despite the emergence of vaccines — has not been brought to heel. At least not yet and maybe not soon.

Perhaps you can just kick the can. Delay the release date one, two, who knows how many times? Eventually, everything will be back to normal.

Won’t it?

No Time to Die is on the shelf. It will get shown. Sometime.

The big question is what happens with Bond 26, whenever that gets made, and in whatever form.

Studios such as Walt Disney Co. and AT&T’s Warner Bros. have embraced the streaming model model. MGM reportedly shopped No Time to Die around for a streaming deal but couldn’t get the price it wanted.

What’s more, MGM reportedly has put itself up for sale. The studio’s association with Bond will reach its 40th anniversary this year. The Bond-MGM association has been a rocky one, dysfunctional even.

Danjaq/Eon controls the rights to Bond. But Danjaq/Eon needs MGM (whether by itself or in alliance with other studios) to get 007 movies made.

Put another way, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed before you can even talk about future Bond adventures.

Example: Is the traditional model of a big theatrical release followed by home video revenues even practical now? Or do studios need to reduce the costs of big “tentpole” films?

Of major tentpoles, Bond seemingly is in a good position to ramp down and do more cost-effective productions. The early 007 films such as Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, were pretty lean films.

Still, that was almost 60 years ago. Things change.

No Time to Die may be a rousing James Bond film. But Bond’s future still is being determined — and things are more uncertain than James Bond emerging triumphant at the end of a movie.

About that Christopher Nolan directing a Bond film thing

Christopher Nolan

There are a number of Hollywood types upset with Warner Bros.’s plans to debut its 2021 film slate simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming service as well as theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And one of the most prominent is writer-producer-director Christopher Nolan.

Nolan directed a financially successful trio of Batman movies released by Warner Bros. He also shows up as a favorite among some James Bond fans to direct a Bond film at some point.

After all, he’s worked in Bond-inspired bits among his Batman films as well as 2010’s Inception and this year’s Tenet. Meanwhile, Bond films such as Skyfall (2012) and SPECTRE (2015) had Nolan influences. A marriage made in heaven, right?

In a statement to THR, Nolan made clear how unhappy he is about the HBO Max news. The streaming service will show the Warner Bros. movies for 31 days. It’s a way to boost HBO Max.

“Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak,” Nolan said. “They don’t even understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

So here’s the question: Does this mean that Nolan is looking for the exit from his long-standing Warner Bros. relationship?

If so, does this make it more likely he might direct a Bond movie in the future? Or does it show he’s more than willing to bite the hand that feeds him?

Nolan had a pretty good deal at Warners. Nolan’s Syncopy company produced his movies. Nolan’s wife, Emma Thomas, gets a producer credit on his films.

That’s a lot to walk away from. Bond fans who clamor for Nolan to direct Bond say he likes Bond so much he might well turn away such perks. He’d surely be happy to work for Eon Productions, so the thinking goes.

Who knows? It’s still early days of the shakeup that’s going on in the movie business. And when might Bond 26 get off the ground?

Bond 26 questions: Future of the franchise edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There has been a lot of James Bond film news the past week. Naturally the blog has questions.

What decade will Bond 26 come out in?

If we’re lucky, the 2020s.

Oh, come on! That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

In 2012, when Skyfall came out, did you think there’d only be two Bond films in the 2010s?

Put another way, can you be sure there will be two Bond films in the 2020s?

Never mind. But why such a negative vibe?

Because there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the future of movies.

No Time to Die (plus Marvel movies, plus DC Comics movies, plus Fast and the Furious films plus Jurassic World movies) were pre-COVID-19 movies scheduled to debut in a post-COVID-19 world.

Studios counted on big “tentpole” epics to bring paying customers into movie theaters to supplement on-demand and home video releases. Meanwhile, mid- to small-budgeted projects have gone over to streaming services.

There have been many, many delays of “tentpole” epics during COVID-19. No Time to Die alone was pushed back from April 2020 to November 2020 to April 2021.

But movie theaters are under a lot of financial strain. What happens if many theaters — the same theaters studios rely on for a major tentpole revenue stream — go under?

At one time — say a year ago — people weren’t talking in those terms. Now? It’s a possibility.

What are you saying?

As the saying goes, “James Bond will return.” But will it return as a $250 million-budget “tentpole”? Or does Bond return in a form similar to his 1962 film debut, i.e. a more modestly budgeted film adventure.

Time will tell.

About that whole Bond 26 thing

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

This week, a website I am totally unfamiliar with stated that Tom Hardy is definitely the next film James Bond.

Naturally, Bond fans jumped in to debate, argue and discuss whether this was so. I’m not going to link to it because there has been enough heat and no light.

Perhaps a better subject would be under what circumstances a Bond 26 movie would occur.

Specifically, with the advent of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is making a $200 million to $250 million movie practical anymore?

The Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet was supposed to save cinema. It’s not happening in the United States (still a major movie market). Warner Bros., Tenet’s studio, has responded by delaying (again) Wonder Woman 1984 to Christmas.

But, Bond fans say, James Bond is different. It’s an established intellectual property (known as IP).

Sure. But a second COVID-19 wave is occurring internationally. And the U.S. as a whole, still has yet to get the pandemic under control. Major states such as Florida, Texas and Georgia are a big mess. Theaters in New York and California are still closed.

The traditional business model was movies came out in theaters, followed by video on demand, followed by home video. All of those sources were vital.

Movie studios (including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio) were grappling with the future before COVID-19. Netflix was the main source of pressure and the studios were coming out with their own streaming competitors.

The pandemic puts more pressure than ever on studios. What’s the future for movies in theaters?

Tom Hardy is guaranteed to be the next James Bond? The question is whether James Bond movies are guaranteed in the future.

No Time to Die is a pre-COVID-19 film trying to come out amid COVID-19. The future for Bond is uncertain — as uncertain as it is for movies generally.

Waller-Bridge being ‘wooed’ for Bond 26, Baz says

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge “is being wooed” to write Bond 26, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye wrote in a story published Thursday.

Earlier this week, Amazon Studios announced it signed Waller-Bridg to create and produce new shows for the streaming service, a deal Variety reported is worth $20 million a year. That deal was disclosed after Waller-Bridge won three Emmys for her Fleabag series.

Bamigboye previously had a number of scoops proven direct during production of Skyfall and SPECTRE. He hasn’t been reporting on Bond films as much in recent years and hadn’t written at all about No Time to Die for months.

His newest story quotes a source he didn’t identify as saying Waller-Bridge’s contributions to No Time to Die were “great — far greater than we’d anticipated. She’s the savior of Bond really.”

The tone of the story was considerably more cheerful that a piece Bamigboye did in May that described No Time to Die’s script as being written by committee.

Waller-Bridge was one of several writers who worked on the 25th Bond film made by Eon Productions. Others included Scott Z. Burns and the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Bamigboye’s new story provided no details about when Bond 26 might come along except to say it will be “years” from now.

It remains to be seen whether the busy Waller-Bridge will be available for Bond 26.

The Bond series has a history where a writer comes aboard to rewrite and gets a lot of credit for improving the story. However, in some cases, (Bruce Feirstein after GoldenEye, Paul Haggis after Casino Royale and John Logan after Skyfall) they ran into problems with their second Bond effort.