Broccoli: Decision on new Bond will ‘take some time’

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli told Variety that selecting a new James Bond actor is “going to take some time.”

“It’s a big decision,” the Eon chief said. “It’s not just casting a role. It’s about a whole rethink about where we’re going.”

The Variety story was posted today. The interview was conducted Thursday in New York when a new version of Macbeth reopened after a temporary shutdown due to COVID-19. The play stars former Bond Daniel Craig and is produced by Broccoli.

Broccoli again sang Craig’s praises.

“He’s just the greatest actor ever, and I think audiences will be thrilled by this portrayal because he’s funny, he’s dangerous, he’s all the things you would want,” Broccoli told Variety.

The Bond franchise is in flux. Craig has departed after doing five films released over 15 years. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, was sold to Amazon last month. The deal was announced last year.

What’s more, MGM’s two top film executives, Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, are now gone. Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson issued a statement to The New York Times last year that they wanted De Luca and Abdy to stay at MGM. That advice wasn’t heeded.

Separately, Amazon made a regulatory filing on Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing valued MGM’s film and TV library at $3.4 billion. Amazon also said it paid off $2.5 billion in debt it assumed from MGM.

MGM film execs favored by Eon to depart studio, Variety says

MGM logo

Two Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film executives favored by Eon Productions are departing the studio, Variety reported.

Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, the top two executives in MGM’s film division, “have both been let go of the company,” the entertainment news outlet said. An excerpt:

De Luca had recently made overtures to David Zaslav about coming to Warner Bros. Discovery, according to an insider. The rumor mill has been swirling in recent weeks about the executives long-term future, with many predicting that he would be headed for the exit soon.

In July 2021, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson issued a statement to The New York Times after Amazon agreed to buy MGM. “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 statement quoted the Eon duo as saying, “Amazon has assured us that Bond will continue to debut” in movie theaters, according to the Times. “Our hope is that they will empower Mike and Pam to continue to run MGM unencumbered.” 

De Luca’s title was chairman of MGM’s motion picture group while Abdy was his deputy. Amazon already had its own film operation.

Executive changes are common after corporate acquisitions. Amazon’s $8.45 billion deal for MGM was announced last year and became final in March.

For Eon, the departure of De Luca and Abdy means the company that produces James Bond films will have yet another MGM executive team to deal with. It remains to be seen how this will affect the development of Bond 26. Actor Daniel Craig has exited the role of Bond after five movies from 2006 through 2021.

Eon’s long goodbye with Daniel Craig

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig has, after a run of more than 15 years, bid adieu to Eon Productions’ James Bond film series. But Eon, at least not yet, isn’t done with the actor.

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is producing an upcoming stage production of Macbeth starring Craig. This follows a protracted campaign that sought to produce award nominations for No Time to Die, Craig’s final turn as James Bond.

The campaign had mixed results: Six BAFTA nominations, including best British film and three Oscar nominations. No nominations for Craig, either way.

It’s no secret that Barbara Broccoli zeroed in early on Craig to succeed Pierce Brosnan as Bond. Brosnan was the final Bond actor chosen by her father, Albert R. Broccoli. Craig was the first Bond actor she chose.

The question is whether the Macbeth play will delay Eon from getting on with Bond’s future.

You could argue that Eon really can’t go very far down the Bond 26 path.

Amazon last year agreed to acquire Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. MGM finances Bond films and the power of the purse still is powerful. The Amazon-MGM deal is not final. Until that happens, Bond 26 can only go so far.

Broccoli, however, has signaled she’s not in a hurry when it comes to Bond 26.

“To be honest, we’re not looking right now. We’re not in the conversation right now,” Broccoli told The Hollywood Reporter on a podcast in January. “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.”

For now, that celebration continues. We’ll see how it goes.

How Bond 26 may be affected by London studio moves

h/t David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier

Willard Whyte was said to play Monopoly with real buildings. Major companies are doing that with London studios and that may affect Bond 26, eventually.

Pre-pandemic, Walt Disney Co. in 2019 signed a deal to lease most of Pinewood Studios in a long-term deal.

Pinewood, of course, was the production home to most James Bond films made by Eon Productions. Parts of studio property are named after Bond titles and personnel. One includes a road named after Eon’s Michael G. Wilson. And there is the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage.

Now, according to The Guardian, Amazon Prime Video has reached a long-term lease deal at Shepperton Studios in London. Netflix also has a big leasing deal at Shepperton.

Both Pinewood and Shepperton are owned by Pinewood Group.

In 2019, there was speculation whether Bond 26 (whenever that goes into production) might be forced to vacate Pinewood.

In 2021, Amazon, the parent company of Amazon Prime Video, agreed to purchase Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. That transaction, valued at $8.45 billion, isn’t final yet.

Still all this business dealing raises the question of whether Bond 26 might be based at Shepperton, rather than Pinewood. It’s way too early to tell. But it’s something for fans to keep an eye on.

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 questions: The New Year edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Happy New Year! You would think things would be quiet on the James Bond front at least in early 2022. But there are signs things might not be that quiet.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What’s the top priority for the Bond film franchise?

Seeing whether Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is completed.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions. have been lobbying on behalf of two current MGM film executives, Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. The fate of De Luca and Abdy likely won’t be known until Amazon finishes the deal.

What’s more, the Eon duo has repeatedly said they’re not interested in Bond streaming spinoffs.

Former Bond Daniel Craig joined in the public lobbying via an interview with The Sun.

Once Amazon takes possession of MGM, we go from hypothetical to the very real. Amazon runs Amazon Prime, one of the leading streaming services. It also has Amazon Studios. Does Amazon merge MGM into Amazon Studios? Or does Amazon maintain MGM as a separate operation like Marvel and Pixar at Walt Disney Co.?

Finally, the search for a new actor to replace Daniel Craig can’t really get very far until the issues above are addressed.

What happens if regulators don’t permit the Amazon acquisition to go through?

MGM possibly goes into crisis mode. Bond’s home studio had been working toward a sale for years. For MGM, everything goes back to square one. That type of uncertainty isn’t good for the orderly development of Bond 26.

What happens if the Amazon deal gets completed?

Wilson and Broccoli familiarize themselves, yet again, with a new set of executives. Eon has done this for 40 years, ever since MGM acquired United Artists, Bond’s original studio.

Much of the public lobbying Wilson and Broccoli have done is laying the groundwork for subsequent behind-closed-doors meetings. That’s where many issues will be hashed out.

Things like the 60th anniversary of the Bond film franchise will probably have to wait.

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 questions: 2022 (and beyond?)

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There are still a few weeks before the end of the year. Still, the natural temptation is to shut things down sooner than later.

Questions about the future of the James Bond film franchise remain. Of course, the blog has questions.

When will we know the next Bond film actor?

Fans tend to expect major announcements on Oct. 5 (when Dr. No debuted in 1962). Sometimes it works out that way, sometimes not. Don’t assume one way or the other.

What should we look out for?

Amazon agreed earlier this year to acquire Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. That deal hasn’t closed yet. Assuming it passes regulatory review, the acquisition might change things.

How?

That remains to be seen. Amazon has agreed to spend $8.45 billion (cash and assumption of MGM debt). You don’t spend that kind of money to leave things exactly as they’ve been.

Any signs of tension?

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli has done multiple interviews where she and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson say they aren’t interested in Bond spinoffs. (Even though Wilson was deeply involved in the 1990s James Bond Jr. cartoon show.)

It appears to have to look of Eon drawing a line in the sand. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Still, on the surface, something seems to be up.

Anything else?

Eon has said repeatedly that 2021 was the year of celebrating the end of Daniel’s Craig’s 15-year run as Bond.

However, Craig’s theatrical run is ending. We’re into the No Time to Die digital release. We’re within days of DVD/Blu Ray/other physical media release.

A new era of Bond is on the horizon. It will begin sooner than later.

Bond 26 questions: Bond’s return

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Spoiler for No Time to Die

At a recent event sponsored by the Deadline entertainment news site, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli said Eon has yet to figure out how James Bond will return after the events of No Time to Die.

By the end of the 25th Bond film, Bond has been blown to smithereens and other characters are in mourning. Yet, in the end titles, it says “James Bond Will Return.”

“We’ll figure that one out, but he will be back,” Broccoli said. “You can rest assured James Bond will be back.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Another reboot?

This would be the easiest route. With 2006’s Casino Royale, Eon started things over. Eon finally had its hands on the rights to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. So one continuity ended after Eon dismissed Pierce Brosnan, another began after it brought on Daniel Craig.

Having multiple continuities is not unprecedented. Look at Warner Bros. and its various Batman movies.

Four movies from 1989 through 1997 were one continuity (multiple actors played Batman but all four had the same actors as Alfred the butler and Commissioner Gordon). Films from 2005 through 2012 were another continuity. And various films with Ben Affleck as Batman comprise yet another continuity. Now, yet another continuity is in works with Robert Pattinson as Batman.

If you’re a fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond films, you can’t complain about reboots. Yes, Eon fudged things at times, primarily with the Aston Martin DB5. But a new reboot may be the way to go.

What about the “code name theory”?

That would be another way to go.

For the uninitiated, the “code name theory” is a way of explaining all the different actors who’ve played Bond in the Eon series. Under this scenario, “James Bond” is a code name assigned to different people.

Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have said there’s only one Bond, just played by different actors. Besides, 007 is Bond’s code number. Why does he need a code name on top of that?

Nevertheless the “code name theory” refuses to die. It traces its origins to the development of the 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman. The original James Bond (David Niven) orders all British agents to be named “James Bond” to confuse enemies. This notion may be the 1967 movie’s legacy.

You’re not serious, are you?

To be clear, I am NOT advocating for it. However, “code name theory” would be one way to retain Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Rory Kinnear as Tanner.

What would be the drawbacks?

A new Bond actor would be burdened by the Craig continuity. Remember, Craig’s Bond was burned out from Skyfall on. Personally, I would start fresh with a reboot. You DO NOT have to another Bond origin story. Just introduce your new Bond and go from there.

Sean Connery’s Bond never had an origin story. That worked out pretty well.

Bond films: Does ‘Fleming content’ matter anymore?

Some guy who had something to do with James Bond

I watched an entertaining video about the future of James Bond films. One of the issues it raised was do we really want to rehash Ian Fleming’s original texts anymore.

Go to the 12:19 mark of this video:

An excerpt:

I also know there are a lot of Bond fans out there who want to see them go back to the Ian Fleming source material and do super-faithful adaptations of those books. This is something I’m really unexcited about. Largely, I feel because I feel a good chunk of those books have already been adapted quite faithfully.

As noted in the video, Goldfinger’s screenplay improved upon Fleming’s novel. Also, check out the comments section of the video.

Regardless, Ian Fleming (1908-1964) has been dead longer than he was alive. Sherlock Holmes has gone on far longer than his creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). In that regard, Bond and Holmes have something in common.

To be clear, I know the creator of the YouTube video. He’s a great guy and he produces wonderful Bond-related videos.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I have done an article updated three times that attempted to put a value on the “Fleming content” of the Eon film series.

Finally, for a character to be long-lived, that character goes beyond his or her creator. Holmes and Tarzan fall into the category. Others, not so much.

Bond is approaching his 60th anniversary as a film character. Changes take place.

Once upon a time, Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Batman is a lot different than those days. But the Finger-Kane imprint still is present. And Batman is one of the most popular characters in the world.

The same thing may be happening with Bond.