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.

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.

Official NTTD podcast takes a victory lap

No Time to Die poster

Spoilers for No Time to Die (final warning for the blog regarding No Time to Die) If you haven’t seen the movie by now, too bad.

No Time to Die’s official podcast released a new episode this week. It was part of the 25th James Bond film taking a victory lap.

No Time to Die is the biggest box office movie of 2021 among non-Chinese movies. As of Dec. 10, its global box office figure is $765.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Some highlights from the official podcast episode:

-Special effects wizard Chris Corbould: “You need to bring new blood and new energy” into the franchise. Corbould says the scene with the demise of Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) was done at Pinewood Studios.

– Eon’s Michael G. Wilson: “It’s quite flattering this” movie got people back into cinema.

–Director Cary Fukunaga: “It’s surreal…the way people got out for repeat viewings. It’s pretty amazing.”

–Eon’s Barbara Broccoli: “We wanted this film to be really an homage to the films that have come before…The emotional context of this film is deeply imbued with the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

— Director Fukunaga: The director says he hadn’t seen On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) until he was hired to direct No Time to Die.

–Fukunaga (again): Says the You Only Live Twice novel was “a big influence.”

–Co-screenwriter Robert Wade:, re: how Nomi was the new 007: “It was Barbara’s (Broccoli) idea to make it was a female 007, as far as I remember.”

-Daniel Craig about the movie’s ending: “We knew where we wanted to get to.”

–Corbould (again) about the ending: “I still shed a tear…The music really got me….It was the end of an era, really.”

–Fukunaga (again): about filming Craig’s final scenes “It was very much a closed set.”

-Eon’s Wilson (again) about Bond’s demise: “A lot of us (were) thinking that was the right way to go….It seemed like it was a situation we could tackle for the first time in the Bond series.”

–Eon’s Broccoli: “We’ve been trying to work the poison garden (from the You Only Live Twice novel) into the story for so many movies.”

–Broccoli: “I think it was Michael who came up with the idea of the DNA-targeted weapon.”

-Broccoli (yet again): “Daniel’s performance is extraordinary.”

-Wilson (talking about Eon’s co-founder Albert R. Broccoli): “I think he would have been very happy with Daniel as the Bond.”

Purvis & Wade say #MeToo didn’t affect their work

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

Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, in an interview with The Guardian, say the #MeToo movement didn’t affect their work on No Time to Die.

“I don’t think we did anything differently because of that,” Wade told The Guardian. “We’ve never wanted to be sexist: it doesn’t look good for Bond. I’ve got daughters, and I wouldn’t want him not to be a good role model.” 

The comment was part of a broader profile of the writing duo, who have been involved writing every James Bond film since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

The comment also is interesting because the notion that No Time to Die reflects an adjustment to #MeToo had been a talking point in publicity for the film. #MeToo, per Wikipedia, refers to “a social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment where people publicize allegations of sex crimes.”

For example, there’s this excerpt from a November 2019 article in The Hollywood Reporter.

No Time to Die will be the first entry in the series to land in a #MeToo and Time’s Up world. And while the $7 billion franchise may forever be best known for its womanizing namesake agent, director Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) and producer Barbara Broccoli have worked hard with both (Lashana) Lynch and (Ana) de Armas to create a new type of female Bond character who is much more fully realized than the “Bond girls” of films past.

“It’s pretty obvious that there is an evolution in the fact that Lashana is one of the main characters in the film and wears the pants — literally. I wear the gown. She wears the pants,” says de Armas.

In a September 2021 story, director Cary Fukunaga told The Hollywood Reporter that #MeToo did have an impact.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for the film was bringing its globe-trotting lothario into Hollywood’s post-#MeToo reality. After all, No Time to Die began development in 2016, before the industry embarked on a period of self-reflection in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall for predatory behavior. Though Craig’s oeuvre puts a greater emphasis on the quality of drinks than the quantity of women, the history of Bond includes casual misogyny and worse.

“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where, like, basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?” Fukunaga asks. “She’s like ‘No, no, no,’ and he’s like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ That wouldn’t fly today.”

In addition to directing, Fukunaga shared the screenwriting credit with the Purvis and Wade team as well as Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

In 2019, in a video interview in Jamaica, Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions, also said #MeToo had an impact on No Time to Die, which was about to start principal photography.

“The #MeToo movement came at the right time — I mean long overdue,” Broccoli said during that interview. “It’s had a huge impact on the world…I think everything we do has to reflect that. So I think the film absolutely will incorporate that.”

No Time to Die’s Oscar push is underway

No Time to Die poster

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists Releasing (the MGM-Annapurna joint venture that distributed No Time to Die in the U.S.) are inviting people to screenings of No Time to Die in Los Angeles and New York as part of a push to get the 25th James Bond movie Oscar nominations.

The Los Angeles screenings are today (Nov. 5), Nov. 12, Nov. 13 and Nov. 15. The New York showings are Nov. 14, Nov. 18 and Nov. 24.

The invitations include “FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION IN ALL CATEGORIES” including:

BEST PICTURE: Michael G. Wilson, p.g.a, Barbara Broccoli, p.g.a. (That’s Producers Guild of America)

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Craig

BEST DIRECTOR: Cary Joji Fukunaga

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Purvis, Wade, Fukunaga, Waller-Bridge

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Malek, Waltz, Wright, Fiennes, Whishaw, Magnuson

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Seydoux, Lynch, Harris, de Armas.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

BEST EDITING

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

BEST SOUND

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (listing only Hans Zimmer, not Steve Mazzaro, his co-composer)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

This is the summary of the movie included in the invitations:

Daniel Craig concludes his five-film portrayal of James Bond in NO TIME TO DIE, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Joining forces with his MI6 team (Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris) and a new generation of agents (Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas), Bond faces the highest stakes of his espionage career confronting a global threat devised by Safin (Rami Malek) that has estranged his beloved Dr. Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) and emotionally explores the sacrifices of heroism. The adapted screenplay is by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The original song “No Time to Die” is written and sung by Billie Ellish.

Where No Time to Die went wrong financially

Danny Boyle

Spoilers for those who haven’t seen No Time to Time.

Hindsight, the saying goes, is always 20-20. For No Time to Die, the major financial misstep was when Danny Boyle came aboard as director.

That’s not because Boyle is a bad filmmaker — far from it. Rather, Boyle was hired (along with his preferred screenwriter John Hodge) and the duo would be at odds with Eon Productions.

Eon had spent much of 2017 developing a script by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Then, sometime in 2018, the Boyle-Hodge team pitched an idea that Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, fell in love with.

By May 2018, Eon and MGM announced that Bond 25 would be directed by Boyle and written by Hodge. Over the next few months, a large rocket model would be constructed as well as a Russian gulag set built in Canada.

Those details would be disclosed by Mark Tildesley, the project’s production designer, in a spring 2020 video interview. Tildesley was recruited to the project by Boyle.

However, by August 2018, Boyle was out because of “creative differences.”

So much for all that set construction. Welcome back, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. We have a new director (Cary Fukunaga) for you to work with.

Now that the movie is out, the source of the creative differences is out. Eon (and Daniel Craig) wanted one thing for the ending while Boyle wanted something else.

The MI6 James Bond website, on the Oct. 9 edition of its James Bond and Friends podcast said the following about the movie’s ending:

“We’ve heard it from multiple, well-connected sources that it was Craig’s stipulation to do the film.”

As a result of all this, No Time to Die ended up costing (at least) one-and-a-half movies. But it only has *one* revenue stream. There was a lot of unnecessary spending and a lack of financial discipline.

No Time to Die’s global box office exceeds $525 million. That makes it one of the most popular movies in the post-COVID-19 era. But it’s not at a pace to turn a profit in its theatrical release, including production costs approaching $300 million.

In hindsight (that word again), le affaire de Boyle was a detour that added to the costs and didn’t add much to the final product.

So it goes.

A few quirks in the development of No Time to Die

No Time to Die poster released Sept. 1.

Every movie has its quirks on the way to the silver screen. No Time to Die certainly had its share. Here are a few.

The writing

July 2017: Eon Productions announces Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are writing Bond 25. At this point, Daniel Craig’s return as Bond hadn’t been announced yet.

December 2017: Eon boss Barbara Broccoli says on a Hollywood Reporter podcast that Purvis and Wade were “busy working away, trying to come up with something fantastic.”

May 2018: John Hodge is announced as the sole writer of Bond 25, to be directed by Danny Boyle.

August 2018: Boyle departs Bond 25 over “creative differences.” Hodge leaves also. Purvis and Wade end up returning.

Boyle vs. Fukunaga

Spring 2020: Production designer Mark Tildesley worked under both Boyle and his replacement, Cary Fukunaga. Tildesley says during Boyle’s time on the project, the art department had built a 350-foot rocket and a Russian gulag set in Canada.

February 2019: The MI6 James Bond website says for most of the Hodge/Boyle script, Bond was imprisoned by the villain.

September 2021: Fukunaga tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Boyle-Hodge project was “more tongue-in-cheek and whimsical.”

Query: If all of this is correct, did Boyle want a “whimsical” story set in a Russian gulag? A sort of modern-day Hogan’s Heroes?

Bond 26 questions: The (eventual) search for a new Bond

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions were interviewed on a BBC Radio show on Sept. 27. The duo indicated they weren’t in a hurry to find a successor for Daniel Craig as James Bond.

“We’re not thinking about it at all,” Broccoli said, according to a Variety summary of the interview. “We want Daniel to have his time of celebration. Next year we’ll start thinking about the future.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

How seriously should we take these remarks?

In general, a CEO always is supposed to be thinking about the future. Barbara Broccoli certainly qualifies as a CEO.

On the one hand, there are signs that Broccoli has at least thought about a post-Craig future for Eon’s Bond film series.

No Time To Die director Cary Fukunaga told Total Film that he had a meeting with Broccoli before he was named to helm the 25th James Bond film.

“At that point Daniel said he wasn’t doing another one, so we spit-balled all the potential new Bonds – that was exciting,” Fukunaga said in that interview.

On the other hand, there are signs that Broccoli is really, really reluctant to let go of Craig. “I’m sort of in denial,” she said in the BBC interview. “I would love for Daniel to continue forever.”

Personally, I take her at her word. She is not anxious to move on from Craig.

Will the search (whenever it starts) be complicated?

Searching for a Bond actor is never easy. The next search will have additional complications.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. But that deal hasn’t been completed and is subject to regulatory review.

It remains to be seen what Amazon will do with MGM assuming the deal goes through. Eon likes some current MGM film executives and has lobbied for Amazon to keep them on board.

Regardless, assuming Amazon completes the deal, that will be an additional piece of complication.

What’s more, Eon has its own issues. Wilson turns 80 next year. There are popular fan theories that he may retire after No Time to Die. Who knows whether that’ll be the case. Still a new Bond isn’t the only succession issue facing Eon.

No Time to Die becomes reality this week

No Time to Die teaser poster

After an almost six-year wait, the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions becomes a reality this week.

No Time to Die, after many, many hiccups (to put it kindly), will be seen by its first audiences this week.

The official premiere is Sept. 28 in London. There will be other showings in other countries. At long last, Daniel Craig’s Bond farewell will be seen by audiences.

The project was announced on July 24, 2017, with no distributor, no director, and even no star. The only creative crew attached were writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Daniel Craig, who had starred in the previous four Bond films, finally said on the Aug. 15, 2017 telecast of The Late Show on CBS that he was coming back. Earlier in the day, in radio station interviews, he claimed nothing had been decided.

“No decision has been made at the moment,” Craig told Magic 106.7 at the time. “There’s a lot of noise out there. Nothing official has been confirmed. I’m not like holding out for more money or doing anything like that.”

Since then, the radio stations took down the original links to the interviews. Evidently, radio stations are low on the media totem pole and there are no problems with lying to them.

No Time to Die (as the movie eventually would be titled) went through many rewrites. Besides Purvis and Wade, the likes of Scott Z. Burns, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and director Cary Fukunaga took a whirl at the script.

Also don’t forget for a time that John Hodge was supposed to be the main writer. He and Danny Boyle, the first announced director, had pitched an idea. A script in development for a year was set aside when Boyle and Hodge (supposedly) had a great idea that wowed Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio.

Then, all of a sudden, the Boyle-Hodge take was found wanting. Members of FOE (Friends of Eon) tried to reassure fans everything was still on track.

Except it wasn’t. The original fall 2019 release date got pushed back to February 2020 and then April 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused further delays. Fall 2020. Spring 2021. Finally, the impending fall 2021 dates.

Nevertheless, Bond is a hard man to put down. Bond never conquered COVID. But he’s coming out this week in the U.K. (and elsewhere) as well as North America next week.

No Time to Die was conceived during the pre-pandemic era. That’s when expensive movies were brought out by studios. If audiences liked them, a box office of $1 billion was possible. No Time to Die, which had production spending approaching $300 million, sought that target.

The new Bond film is coming out in a new world. Maximum movie box office achievement is well below $1 billion.

Maybe Bond can change that. But, personally, I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Regardless, Bond fans are excited. And they should be. The gentlemen agent is back after a long hiatus.

Will this be a “cinematic masterpiece” in the words of Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli? That’s up to the audience.

The fact is, the audience finally gets a chance to judge. The hype is over. Let’s see how it goes.