Broccoli says Eon resisting doing Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Eon Productions chief Barbara Broccoli says in a recent magazine story that the production company has been pressured to make James Bond spinoffs but is resisting such a move.

“We’ve been under a lot of pressure to make spinoffs,” Broccoli told Total Film, whose 2020 movie preview issue went on sale this month.

“Bond is Bond, she added. “We want to make these theatrical films. We want to make them one at a time, and create an anticipation for them, and deliver films of a very high standard.”

Broccoli didn’t specify where the pressure was coming from. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (Eon’s parent company) share custody of Bond.

Marvel Studios, which has produced more than 20 inter-connected movies since 2008 is branching into TV series for the Disney + streaming service.

The entire Total Film article is not online but scans of it are showing up on internet bulletin boards. There is a preview of the story online.

Eon has avoided planning long story arcs. Quantum of Solace was always intended to be a “direct” sequel to Casino Royale. But Skyfall director Sam Mendes said at a 2011 news conference that his movie wasn’t tied to the two earlier Daniel Craig films.

Then, with SPECTRE, the filmmakers did a “retcon,” making Skyfall connected to Casino and Quantum after all. Skyfall villain Silva became part of SPECTRE/Quantum after the fact. Now, all four are connected to the upcoming No Time to Die.

In the 2000s, Eon developed a proposed Bond spinoff movie featuring Jinx, the character played by Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Nothing came of the project.

Meanwhile, Eon has stepped up its production of non-Bond movies, including the upcoming The Rhythm Section being released by Paramount in January.

Bond 25 questions: The miscellaneous edition

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

We seem to have completed a wave of No Time to Die marketing that included the release of the film’s first trailer. However, as is often the case, the blog has some questions.

How long will the movie be?

The Daniel Craig era of the James Bond film series has been known for long movies.

2006’s Casino Royale came in at 144 minutes, edging out On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (142 minutes) for the longest film in the series up to that time.

Six years later, Skyfall came in at 143 minutes, according to its IMDB.com listing. Then, in 2015, SPECTRE seized the crown of longest-running Bond film at 148 minutes.

The one exception in the Craig era was 2008’s Quantum of Solace at a slender106 minutes, the shortest movie in the series made by Eon Productions.

Based on recent history, it would seem a longer movie is more likely than a shorter one. But how long? Two-and-a-half hours? Longer? Is three hours a possibility? There’s no way to know, obviously, at this point.

Who will do the title song?

To be honest, this isn’t something I personally get excited about. It used to be the title song was an integral part of the movie. Now, it seems to be little more than part of the marketing.

The last time a Bond film composer helped write a title song was Casino Royale’s You Know My Name, where David Arnold collaborated with singer Chris Cornell. When that happens, the composer can weave the title song into the movie’s score.

Now? Music from the song does show up in the underscore, but it doesn’t sound particularly smooth.

When No Time to Die’s title song composer is announced, it’ll get a lot of attention. But, speaking only for myself, it’s hard to get that excited. Which leads up to the next question….

Who is scoring the movie?

In July, IndieWire reported that Dan Romer, who had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on some projects, was the composer. Romer put out a tweet that appeared to confirm the report.

Then, in November, fansite James Bond Radio said it heard Romer had left the production.

Nothing has been heard of since then. There has been no announcement about a No Time to Die composer. So who knows at this point?

Henry Cavill on Bond, U.N.C.L.E. and Superman

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (art by Paul Baack)

Men’s Health is out with a long feature story about actor Henry Cavill. He was once up for playing James Bond (losing out to Daniel Craig), played Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was Superman in three films.

Various entertainment outlets have chewed up the story into bite-sized pieces about various topics. Here’s a roundup.

On auditioning for Bond in Casino Royale: Cavill was in his early 20s when he tested for the role of Bond. Chances are he didn’t stand much of a chance given how Eon Productions boss was pushing for Daniel Craig. The story has this passage:

To screen-test, he had to walk out of a bathroom wrapped in a towel and reenact a scene from one of the Sean Connery–era films. “I probably could have prepared better,” Cavill says. “I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry.’ I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.”

Sounds like he was probably talking about the seduction scene of From Russia With Love, which is one of the standard Bond screen test scenes.

On The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015): The article says the movie, while not a big hit, helped Cavill’s career.

It wasn’t until the big-screen remake of the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that viewers got an idea of the actor’s innate playfulness. Cavill played a swanning, conning American agent named Napoleon Solo. And although it wasn’t a hit, it marked a crucial moment in his career. As Solo, he was droll, at ease, and effortlessly sexy.

Watching U.N.C.L.E., says director Christopher McQuarrie, led him to cast the actor as the evil-genius villain of Mission: Impossible—Fallout. “Something in Henry’s comic timing told me he had talents that weren’t being exploited,” says McQuarrie. “I found he had a charming sense of humor—at which point I knew he could be a villain. The best villains enjoy their work.”

Whether he’s still Superman: Cavill played Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017). There are no outward signs whether he’ll be back. An excerpt:

“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”

Ian Fleming Foundation shows off some of its 007 vehicles

A YouTube video was posted on Oct. 30 showing off some of the James Bond film vehicles the Ian Fleming Foundation has custody of. It runs a little over 16 minutes.

Note: The foundation doesn’t actually own the Ford Mondeo from Casino Royale. It’s a long-term loan from the automaker. The Mondeo in the movie wasn’t a street-legal vehicle. Normally, an automaker crushes a pre-production vehicle. (Disclosure: The foundation asked me, circa 2006, for help in contacting Ford about the Mondeo.)

The video includes one of the foundation’s more recent acquisitions, a piece of heavy equipment from Caterpillar that appeared in the pre-titles sequence of 2012’s Skyfall.

The vehicles are stored about 90 minutes south of Chicago.

Broccoli talks Bond’s emotional travails

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

In Empire magazine’s 2020 preview issue, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli talks about the emotional stress James Bond is under in No Time to Die.

The issue is due out Thursday, Oct. 31. However, @corneelvf obtained an image of the short article.

“We always like to have a very personal trial for him emotionally, put him up against something that he finds difficult to deal with emotionally,” Broccoli told Empire.

Emotional travails have been a big part of the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Craig’s run began with an adaptation of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first novel. Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd, who betrays him and commits suicide. That’s followed up by Bond seeking revenge in Quantum of Solace. Other emotional highlights include the death of M (Judi Dench) in Skyfall.

Meanwhile, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said it really is possible this will be the end of Craig’s run.

“It looks like the end of this era,” Wilson told Empire.

Finally, Empire said “it’s rumoured” the 25th James Bond film will have “the biggest explosion in cinema history.” Part of the publicity for 2015’s SPECTRE boasted that movie had the biggest explosion in cinema history.

Ready or not, the DB5 reports for service again

A replica Aston Martin DB5 rolls off the truck in preparation for Bond 25 filming

Italian news outlet Sassilive had a story about Bond 25 getting ready for filming in Matera, Italy. The article included a photo gallery, including a picture (see above) of an Aston Martin DB5 coming off a truck.

So, ready for not, the DB5 is back. Again.

Most people won’t care that the car (actually one of several) is an expensive replica of the DB5. Carbon fiber body. BMW engine. New suspension components that were never included in the DB5s that Aston Martin made in the 1960s.

Regardless, Eon Productions is turning to one the most iconic images of its James Bond film series. The question is whether this may be one time too many.

The original DB5 was introduced in Goldfinger and made a return in Thunderball. While other Aston models showed up in various Bond films, the DB5 wasn’t seen again in a 007 outing until 1995’s GoldenEye.

In that film, the DB5 appeared to be Bond’s personal car. Ditto for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. A left-handed drive version then appeared in 2006’s Casino Royale, something he won in a card game.

But the DB5 — an original right-hand drive version — was back in 2012’s Skyfall. This time, director Sam Mendes made sure everyone knew it was (or at least it was supposed to be) the original Goldfinger car. And, indeed, every time I saw the film in the theater, it got a rise out of the audience.

The DB5 was blown up in Skyfall, a somewhat emotional moment. But all was forgotten in 2015’s SPECTRE when Q (improbably) had it rebuilt. And Daniel Craig’s Bond appeared to drive off into the sunset at the end of the movie.

Since then, we’ve gotten expensive Lego DB5s and even more expensive replica DB5s with replica gadgets that Aston Martin is selling for more than $3 million each. That’s a lot of money, especially they’re not legal to drive in actual traffic.

Regardless, the DB5 (at least a faux version) is back for Bond 25. Daniel Craig told Prince Charles the secrets of the Bond 25 DB5s when the prince visited Pinewood Studios in June. Now the replica DB5 will soon be at work when Bond 25 begins filming in Italy in a few weeks.

I never really thought I’d say this, but I’m getting tired of the DB5.

Yes, people collect vintage cars. But does it really make sense for Bond to drive what’s supposed to be a 55-year-old (or so) car on a regular basis?

Yes, the DB5 is an iconic Bond car — or at least it was. But is it getting used too much?

Haphazard Stuff, which does very amusing, detailed videos, recently did a long look at Bond 25. He examined the DB5 issue, starting at the 33:36 mark. You can see the video below. (If I did this correctly, it’ll go to the DB5 discussion when you click.) Anyway, some food for thought.

Bond’s special relationship: Broccoli and Craig

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and current James Bond star Daniel Craig

However Bond 25 turns out — and there’s a lot of filming yet to go — the movie may wrap up a noteworthy era: the relationship between Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig.

The two have a closer producer-star relationship than any other in Bond film history.

Don’t take the blog’s word for it. Statements and actions made over the years demonstrate it.

2006: During production of Craig’s debut Bond film, Casino Royale, the Eon boss commented during an interview about Craig in historic terms.

Well, he’s a phenomenal actor. I think he’s the actor that defines his generation of actors.

Generation is an imprecise term. Still, it’s probably fair to say the generation of Craig (b. 1968) includes George Clooney (b. 1961), Brad Pitt (b. 1963), Matt Damon (b. 1970), Ben Affleck (b. 1972), Idris Elba (b. 1972) and Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974).

2015: SPECTRE poster reveals that Daniel Craig is one of three co-producers. It’s the first time that a Bond actor has received any type of producing credit.

2015: With SPECTRE, Craig’s fourth film as James Bond about to come out, Barbara Broccoli says in a Huffington Post story she’s in denial about a Craig-less James Bond future.

“I just don’t want to think about it,” Barbara tells HuffPostUK on the subject of 007’s eventual replacement. “I’m in denial. I don’t want to think about that day. Daniel Craig is Bond, forever, as far as I’m concerned.”

2017: With Daniel Craig secured for Bond 25, Barbara Broccoli describes her feelings to a podcast by The Hollywood Reporter.

Until Craig announced in August 2017 he’d be back, Broccoli said: “My heart was breaking.” In response to a question, she says all the Bond actors have been good but Craig is the best Bond. “He is particularly incredible.”

2018: A number of Bond 25 press releases (SUCH AS THIS ONE and THIS ONE) list Daniel Craig along with Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson at the beginning as if Craig was right there in making the decision. That’s new territory for the Bond film series.

2019: During a livestream about Bond 25, the host, sitting with Barbara Broccoli says, “Let’s have a little reminder of how he took on this iconic character and truly made it his own.” A montage of clips from Craig’s James Bond films follows.

2019: Barbara Broccoli says in an interview she hasn’t given up on the idea that Daniel Craig may return after Bond 25.  “He’s so much a part of the whole process, we’ll make a great movie and then see what happens.”

Bond 25 questions: The SPOILER edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

If you haven’t guessed by the headline (where “SPOILER” is in all capital letters), this post has spoilers. If you’re spoiler adverse, scram. I don’t care how much shows up in the preview image on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So, it seems pretty certain that Christoph Waltz will be in Bond 25 again playing the BROfeld version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (i.e. Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother).

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is this trip really necessary? Not really. But it seems as if Eon Productions and its army of screenwriters is going to double down on one of the worst aspects of 2015’s SPECTRE — namely that Waltz’s Blofeld was Bond’s foster brother and has a personal reason to torment Bond.

What would you have done? Ignore SPECTRE and move on with a new story. Instead, it would appear we will get a version of SPECTRE Part II. It won’t be called that, of course.

Are you serious? All we need now is a “reveal” that Dave Bautista’s Hinx will be back as Hinx, the lead henchman in SPECTRE. At this point, he might as well be. Remember, he appeared to be lobbying for that to happen.

It’d be natural for him to join Jeffrey Wright (last seen in a 007 film in Quantum of Solace) and Lea Seydoux (as Bond’s supposedly everlasting love). Hey, let’s have Eva Green (Vesper in Casino Royale) appear in a flashback sequence while we’re at it.

Any other thoughts? Yes. It’s perhaps time to finally dispense with the trope that the Daniel Craig Bond films are the “closest” to Ian Fleming.

Craig started out with Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. Since then, we’ve seen the death of Mathis (not in a Fleming book).

Mathis may have been a double agent (at least that’s the implication of his Quantum of Solace death scene), which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

And, of course, we have Blofeld/BRO-feld as Bond’s foster brother in SPECTRE, which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

Even if you love all these films, they’re not what Fleming had in mind. Bond 25 may end up an entertaining film. (That’s my inner optimist speaking out). Just don’t bring Fleming into the discussion.

Any suggestions for Bond 25? Perhaps some new character could “reveal” that himself (or herself) was the real Blofeld all along and the “foster brother” nonsense was a way to mess with Bond’s mind. But I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Casino Royale: The manuscript

Top portion of the first page of the manuscript to Casino Royale.

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Years ago, I paid a visit to the Lilly Library at Indiana University. I looked at a few Ian Fleming manuscripts of his James Bond novels as well as some correspondence.

This week, I finally returned. This time, I opted to concentrate on one manuscript. Where best to start than with Casino Royale, viewing the very pages where Fleming created agent 007 in the first place?

What follows are basic observations about the manuscript.

Condition: Fleming typed on very thin pages. His handwritten revisions in ink bled through to the other side of pages. The manuscript is contained within a hardback cover. You can view in the library’s reading room. However, you are not permitted to bring in pens. You can have a notebook and take notes in pencil. Or you can type notes into a computer. A patron can take photos, but a librarian instructs you not to take a photo of all the pages.

Format: When writing the manuscript, Fleming had not yet decided to have chapter titles. Each chapter is simply numbered. The numbering is supposed to be with Roman numerals. However, Fleming typed the numeral “1” instead of capital “I.” As a result, it’s Chapter 1, Chapter 11, Chapter 111, Chapter 1V and so on.

When a chapter ends, Fleming simply typed a series of periods. The end of the first chapter has 30 periods. The count varies by chapter. The technique also is used when changing scenes within a chapter.

Fleming’s revisions: Fleming worked over his prose a lot on Casino Royale. Many pages have a lot of handwritten changes.

Some of it is fairly routine, such as tightening sentences. Other changes are more substantial.

On page 25 in Chapter III (or Chapter 111 as typed), there’s a conversation between the Chief of Staff and M’s secretary.

“What do you think Petty?” the secretary is asked. The reader is told, “Miss Pettavel would have been desirable but for her eyes which were cool and direct and quizzical.”

“Petty” is marked out and replaced with “Penny.” “Pettavel” is marked out and replaced with “Moneypenny.”

An even more significant revision was written on page 112. A written insert reads, “nine of harts, the card, known in gipsy magic as ‘a whisper of love, a whisper of hate’ the card that meant almost certain victory for Bond.”

The phrase “a whisper of love, a whisper of hate” would be the title of Chapter 13. It would also appear in the cover of the British first edition of the novel.

It appears in some sections that Fleming made so many changes he retyped pages. The manuscript has normal numbering until page 40. That’s followed by pages 40A, 40B and 40C. On the back of page 40B, there’s a handwritten insert for page 40C.

Meanwhile, pages 97 and 97A have darker type compared with most of the manuscript as if they had been typed later.

Finally, at the end of Chapter 17 (or XV11 as written), where villain LeChiffre tortures Bond, Fleming had a line he felt he could do without.

In the published version, the chapter ends with LeChiffre speaking. “Say good-bye to it, Bond.”

The manuscript had an additional line. “He bent down.” But the line

Ian Fleming inscription in the copy of Casino Royale at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

is marked out.

Fleming inscription: The library also has an author’s copy of the novel. It’s a third edition (or “third impression” as stated in the book).

Fleming has an inscription on the first page. “This was written in January + February 1952, accepted by Capes in the Spring and published a year later,” it begins. “It was written to take my mind off other matters* at Goldeneye, Jamaica.”

On the inside cover,  there’s an asterisk followed by several handwritten lines that are crossed out.

Thanks to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier for help in making out the crossed out line at the end of Chapter 17.

UPDATE: Michael VanBlaricum says the following on Facebook: “The Casino Royale typescript at the Lilly Library is not the first draft manuscript. That typescript is in private hands and was displayed at the Ian Fleming Centernary Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in 2008.”

Literary 007 Twitter completes his journey

Part of the Twitter home page for @JB_UnivEX

@JB_UnivEX has completed his 14-year journey (a little over a year in real time) showing what it might be like if the literary James Bond were on Twitter.

The literary Bond, of course, was bound by the Official Secrets Act. So he couldn’t *really* say what was going on. But for those who read Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories could follow the unfolding events.

One of the challenges for @JB_UnivEX was how Fleming himself wasn’t consistent with his own timeline. So, the Twitter account attempted to bring order to things.

For example, it began the events of the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel. Then, Bond had to make a quick trip to Canada to deal with the events of The Spy Who Loved Me novel before resuming the Majesty’s tale.

The blog first did its first post about @JB_UnivEX in April 2018 as Casino Royale was wrapping up. In the back of my mind, I was curious how he’d handle the conclusion of You Only Live Twice with a Bond suffering from amnesia.

This was how:

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Another highlight was when a brainwashed Bond arrived in London early in the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel. Brainwashed Bond decides to take in a movie before going to MI6 headquarters.

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In any event, for fans of the literary Bond (and 007 in general), it has been a great ride. This was the final tweet in character. We’re told the more than 2,300 tweets will be re-edited and represented in the future. However, there are no plans to do the continuation novels.

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