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.

Bond 26 (!) questions: The Pinewood deal edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over the weekend, Pinewood Studios announced that Walt Disney Co. had signed a deal to lease almost all of the revered London-area studio sound stages and production facilities.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal may run for 10 years.

Given that Pinewood is the traditional home to James Bond film productions, the blog has questions how this may affect future James Bond films, starting with Bond 26.

OK. What does this mean for Bond 26?

There’s a good chance that Bond 26 — whenever that goes into development — may have to look for another home studio base.

But, couldn’t Disney sub-lease space at Pinewood to Eon Productions for Bond 26?

It could. But then again, why would Disney do so? Disney wouldn’t have cut such a deal unless it had production plans where it would need all that Pinewood space.

Put another way, Disney has never been known for sentimentality, even when “Uncle Walt” was running the place.

After Disney animators went on strike in 1941, some were fired. The Magic Kingdom may be part of Disney. But the Magic Kingdom is, in the end, a fairy tale.

Some of the Disney strike participants were among the founders and contributors of United Productions of America (UPA). UPA went on to win some Oscars and created characters such as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing.

Is there back story we should be aware of?

Pinewood is exiting Pinewood Atlanta, a joint venture. Pinewood is selling out to its partner. That operation will retain the Pinewood Atlanta name for up to 18 months.

Pinewood Atlanta has been the home base of some major productions by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, including the last two Avengers films. But that appears to be a things of the past.

What happens next?

No Time to Die, aka Bond 25, still is in production. We won’t know about Bond 26 for a long time, perhaps years.

With the increasingly long time in-between Bond films, Eon Productions will have plenty of time to look for a new home production base.

If something bigger happens — some kind of sale that would shake up the Bond status quo — that will have to play out before a search for new studio quarters. If Bond became part of the Disney fold, then presumably it could again film at Pinewood.

Meanwhile, Pinewood has just secured rent for the 007 Stage, the Roger Moore Stage and other studio facilities for years. That’s business.

UPDATE (11:35 a.m. New York time): The BBC has weighed in with a story about the deal. It has this line:

“Despite the Disney deal, it is believed that there is a possibility that, given its history, future James Bond films will still be filmed there.”

First of all, who believes this? Secondly, “a possibility” is less than definitive. Possibilities are not certainties.

UPDATE II (Sept. 11): This slipped by me at the time. In July, Netflix reached an agreement to lease almost all of the space at Sheppterton Studios (owned by Pinewood’s parent company). A July story in The Guardian has details. In effect, there’s now an arms race to lock up U.K. studio space.

A letter to 007 fans: Chill

Original James Bond film gunbarrel

To: James Bond fans
From: The Spy Command

Take it’s easy. Relax.

The 25th entry in the Eon 007 film series is being filmed. But, viewing various comments on social media, a number of fans seem to be uptight.

What follows is a summary of Bond social media comments.

There is a serious movement to trash Bond 25 before it’s released.

As the blog has noted, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. and U.S. tabloids have run critical articles. That’s interesting, but keep this in mind: THEY ARE TABLOIDS. They traffic in sensationalism. They always have, they always will. Don’t get too worried about it.

Why are people criticizing Daniel Craig?

The last time Bond fans were, more or less unified behind a Bond actor was Sean Connery in the 1960s.

George Lazenby? Some fans argued he was too stiff, too raw.

Roger Moore? Too lightweight! (This sentiment was particularly concentrated in the U.S. where some fans looked at old Moore publicity stills from the 1950s and said he wasn’t manly enough.) Not worthy of the role that Connery originated!

Timothy Dalton? Some fans thought he was too theatrical.

Pierce Brosnan? He was trying to split the difference between Connery and Moore and not being his own man.

It goes with the territory. If you like Craig’s interpretation of Bond, just let it go. You’re going to get a fifth movie and who knows? He may still come back for Bond 26.

“You’ll be sorry — you rats!” 

Some James Bonds don’t have much of a sense of humor. When they see other fans kid around, they say things like those other fans will be sorry when Bond 25 turns out to be the best Bond film in years!

Well, when Bond films come out every four or five years, that’s not a huge accomplishment. Of course, it’ll be the best Bond film in years

If you want to be a smart alec, at that pace, a new entry is guaranteed to be the worst Bond film in years. The blog prefers to take a realistic approach overall.

If you’re a true Bond fan, you shouldn’t criticize the movie!

The blog’s general rule is you shouldn’t criticize something before it comes out. So, yes, you shouldn’t say Bond 25 sucks before, well, there’s a Bond 25 to view.

At the same time, Bond 25 has had more than its share of odd developments. There have been various delays, including a director (Danny Boyle) coming aboard and then departing. Those are all legitimate topics of fan conversation.

A final cautionary note

The Bond franchise has a history of tense moments. Dr. No was a troubled production. So was From Russia With Love. The Spy Who Loved Me. Tomorrow Never Dies.

In the end, all of those films turned out well.

Yet, you can never assume success. The Flying Wallendas were a spectacular high-wire act. But some of their members died when things went wrong despite numerous successful performances.

Bond 25, of course, is just a movie. But success is never guaranteed, no matter how long the winning streak is.

To sum up: Don’t get bent out of shape about tabloid articles. Relax while filming progresses. Still, keep everything in mind. Just keep it in the proper perspective.

Broccoli not giving up on Craig for Bond 26, Sun says

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and her star Daniel Craig

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli hasn’t given up on Daniel Craig returning for Bond 26, the tabloid Sun newspaper said.

“My Bond insiders insist boss Barbara Broccoli has not seriously considered a single name from the raft of potential replacements that have been touted,” columnist Dan Wootton wrote.

But Broccoli has ignored the chatter because she is “loyal to Daniel” while he remains 007, according to sources. Further, she feels that hunting for a replacement while he is in the job would be “disrespectful”.

(snip)
The insider – who has revealed a string of exclusives about the Bond world – added that Broccoli has not even officially drawn a line through the possibility of Craig making another film.

The Sun didn’t specify what “string of exclusives” has been revealed by the insider. Among U.K. tabloids, the Daily Mail (mostly via writer Baz Bamigboye) has had substantive 007 film scoops proven correct. The Sun, though, on Oct. 21 2011 reported that James Bond would have a beard in Skyfall. (Sorry, original link has gone dead.) So there’s that.

The Sun, in a story by a different writer, said in an August 2018 story that Broccoli and Craig wanted Bond to die at the end of Bond 25. From that story:

It would be a final hurrah for Daniel, and leave fans hanging.

“It would also leave it open for a twist in the next instalment — either Bond hadn’t died or there could be a Doctor Who-esque regeneration with a new actor.

Supposedly, according to that August account, director Danny Boyle objected and that was a reason he left the project.

Both Broccoli and Craig took a longer break after 2015’s SPECTRE to pursue non-Bond projects. Bond 25 is scheduled for a February 2020 release. At the current pace of 007 film production, Bond 26 won’t be out until at least 2023, maybe 2024.

h/t to @CorneelVF on Twitter for pointing out the latest Sun effort.

A modest proposal for Bond 26 and beyond

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Bond 25 is in pre-production and is scheduled for a February 2020 release. What happens after that?

Here’s a modest proposal: What if the 007 film series becomes a series of one-offs — a series of anthology movies, not a continuing series, per se.

Every time a new Bond actor is cast, the assumption is they have to be around for a decade or longer. But what if that were no longer the case?

Consider this: Eon Productions is taking longer and longer to make 007 film installments. In previous decades, there were stretches when the series went into hiatus. But that was because of legal conflicts or studio financial problems (1974-1977, 1989-1995, 2008-2012).

With the 2015 and counting gap, there is no such external factor. This gap is a matter of Eon’s choice. It has enabled Eon boss Barbara Broccoli to make small-scale, intimate dramas such as Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool ($1 million U.S. box office) and Nancy ($80,000 U.S. box office).

At the current rate of production, there may be two, maybe three, 007 films a decade. Thus, the question arises whether it’s necessary for a Bond actor to commit to a decade-long stint.

If the one-off model were adopted, new possibilities arise. Perhaps you could do a one-off with Idris Elba to satisfy the market who’d like to see him play Bond. He’d be around 50 when such a movie would be made, but it’s only one and the Eon series has had actors (Roger Moore and now Daniel Craig) in the same age range.

Also, with a one-off model, you could try out a period Bond. a film set in the 1950s or ’60s, when Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories were published. You’d at least see how it plays out. And if it doesn’t work out? Well, you change the format the next film, no problem.

Is this going to happen? Not likely. But it’s worth thinking about given the current reality of the 007 film series.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid says Craig may do 2 more 007 films

Skyfall’s poster image

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun tabloid, for the second time in 24 hours, has published a 007 film story, this one saying that Daniel Craig, 49, may sign for not one, but two, additional Bond outings.

Here’s an excerpt:

Producer BARBARA BROCCOLI has been spearheading negotiations with the actor, which will take him up to a total of six films as the world’s most famous secret agent.

While work is scheduled to begin on the 25th film next year, discussions are centring on a possible remake of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for Daniel’s subsequent final movie.

A Bond insider said: “There was plenty of talk about who would be the next Bond but Barbara has managed to talk Daniel into two more films.

The thing is, Broccoli and Eon Productions flirted with infusing elements of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service into 2015’s SPECTRE.

A SPECTRE draft script dated Dec. 1, 2014 (one week before the movie began filming) had Bond telling Madeleine Swann that, “We have all the time in the world.”

That was the famous line Bond utters at the end of both Ian Fleming’s 1963 novel and the 1969 movie adaptation. The line didn’t make the 2015 movie.

An earlier SPECTRE draft had a henchwoman named Irma Bunt, a character in the 1963 novel and 1969 film.

What’s more, John Barry’s theme for the OHMSS film was woven into one of the SPECTRE trailers.

Regarding Bond 25, The Sun quotes an unidentified “insider” as saying, “But the deal is almost done and the idea of returning to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for the 26th movie is really exciting.”

On Saturday, The Sun said Craig is coming back because Sam Mendes (director of Skyfall and SPECTRE) isn’t.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid writes of new effort to keep Craig

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Another day, another British tabloid report of 007’s film future. This time, THE SUN is reporting Daniel Craig will be offered the chance to film Bond 25 and Bond 26 at the same time.

The tabloid quotes “a film insider” as saying Craig’s concerns with continuing as Bond is “the amount of time it takes to shoot as he’s away from his family. They hope this way the filming will be shorter.”

Also, according to the story, Bond 25 would end with a cliffhanger.

Here’s why the blog is applying the Caveat Emptor label.

–Originally Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) and Bond 25 were supposed to be a two-picture story. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in November 2012 that John Logan had been hired to write both. However, before that announcement, CRAIG WAS QUOTED IN OCTOBER 2012 as saying, ““It’s impossible to do a two parter…We can only do them one at a time, they take six months to shoot.”

The two part plan for Bond 24 and Bond 25 was later jettisoned to entice Skyfall director Sam Mendes to return.

Anyway, as it relates to The Sun’s story, if Craig didn’t like the idea of filming a two parter before, why would it appeal to him this time? SPECTRE was a seven-month shoot. Marvel Studios plans a nine-month shoot for a two-part avengers movie coming out in 2018 and 2019.

A Bond movie relies on its leading actor more than an ensemble project like the Avengers. While nine months (or 10, or whatever) would be a shorter time for *two* movies, it also means doing twice the action sequences, etc. Craig suffered a knee injury during SPECTRE’s filming.

–The Sun, over the past two movies, has had some 007 scoops, but not major ones. For example, IN 2011, The Sun said Craig’s Bond would have a beard in Skyfall. It was more like a lot of stubble, but OK, we’ll give them that one. But the major scoops proven to be true for that film and SPECTRE were reported elsewhere.

The king of British tabloid reporters for Bond scoops used to be Baz Bamigboye, but he hasn’t been on the 007 beat for over a year.