A No Time to Die reality check

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Adapted, updated and expanded from previous blog posts.

Ben Whishaw, who has played Q for three James Bond films, has told Collider.com that No Time to Die will be a “summing up” of Daniel Craig’s 007 films.

There has been some fan discussion of how the Craig films will now be this five-film epic, something the series had never attempted. Under this idea, No Time to Die will conclude five Bond films, similar to how Avengers: Endgame was the conclusion of more than 20 Marvel Studios movies.

No Time to Die may be presented that way. But this is just a reminder that Craig’s tenure was never planned this way unlike Marvel.

Let’s go back some years.

Sam Mendes said Skyfall “didn’t connect” to Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace: At a November 2011 press conference, Mendes was asked whether Skyfall was related to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

“It’s its own story,” the Skyfall director said of Skyfall. “It doesn’t connect with the last two movies.”

After the fact, things changed.

The filmmakers once told us SPECTRE was passe: Here’s a quote from Barbara Broccoli in a 2012 interview with CRAVE ONLINE:

Barbara Broccoli: I mean, we’ve talked about Blofeld over the years. The thing is Blofeld was fantastic for the time but I think it’s about creating characters that are, villains that are more appropriate for the contemporary world. It’s more exciting for us to create somebody new. (emphasis added)

The filmmakers told us Quantum was better than SPECTRE: Here’s a summary by the JAMES BOND INTERNATIONAL FAN CLUB of an article that originally appeared in SPX magazine.

Interestingly, Wilson and Broccoli told SFX that they have not abandoned the Quantum organisation, but also confirmed that it is not used in ‘Skyfall’. Wilson also revealed that they have the rights to bring back Blofeld and SPECTRE. ‘We believe we can use them. They’re a little dated at the moment. We went for the Quantum organisation, which was more business oriented, trying to corner the market on scarce resources, rather than a criminal organisation that did blackmail and bank robberies…’.

But Wilson’s co-producer Barbara Broccoli added, cautiously, that they needed a little more time to pass before they could go back to ‘extortion and blackmail! The Quantunm organisation does seem far more realistic. (emphasis added)

In 2006’s Casino Royale, the mysterious organization that Bond battled didn’t have a name. In Quantum of Solace, we found out it was called Quantum. In SPECTRE, we learned there was a tie between Quantum and SPECTRE via Mr. White.

The 2013 settlement with the Kevin McClory estate that gave Eon Productions the ability to use SPECTRE was an opportunity. That changed everything,

With SPECTRE, we got a “retcon” (retroactive change in continuity).

I saw a tweet from a fan who wondered whether No Time to Die was SPECTRE Part II. Essentially, many fans are buying into the idea (seemingly voiced by Whishaw in his Collider interview) that No Time to Die is Casino Royale Part V.

None of this means No Time to Die won’t be an entertaining James Bond. Still, let’s not get carried away.

Whishaw says NTTD is a ‘summing up’ of Craig’s Bond films

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

No Time to Die will be a “summing up” of Daniel Craig’s James Bond films, actor Ben Whishaw said in an interview with the Collider website.

“There are strands of all of the films in it, kind of reaching a conclusion,” Whishaw said. No Time to Die is Craig’s fifth Bond movie.

The actor also said director Cary Fukunaga approached the 25th James Bond film “almost” like an independent film and that filming was “quite improvisational.”

Collider interviewed Whishaw at the Sundance Film Festival.

Whishaw joined the Bond film series with 2012’s Skyfall as a younger Q.

UPDATE (9:30 p.m., New York time): Collider posted its video interview of Ben Whishaw to YouTube. Said video is embedded below.

UPDATE (10:20 p.m., New York time): IMDB.com has posted a separate interview with Whishaw. In that interview, the actor says he has completed a three-film Bond contract with No Time to Die.

 

Warner Bros. gives an early press screening of U.N.C.L.E.

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Warner Bros. has conducted an early media showing of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, according to the editor of an entertainment news website.

Steven Weintraub, editor in chief of Collider.com, took to Instagram and Twitter tonight to say he was attending.

“Going back to the 60s with Guy Ritchie tonight,” Weintraub wrote in a caption accompanying a photo he put on Instagram. “Seeing an early screening of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Wb. must think they’ve got the goods to show us the film 6 weeks early.”

The movie, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, doesn’t arrive in theaters until Aug. 14. Warners originally scheduled the Guy Ritchie-directed film for mid-January, usually seen as a studio dumping ground for movies.

Warners later switched U.N.C.L.E. to August and kept it there, even after Paramount moved up Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation to July 31 from Dec. 25. The M:I movie features star/producer Tom Cruise, who had been courted to play Napoleon Solo in U.N.C.L.E. but opted against it. That paved the way for Cavill’s selection.

UPDATE (June 30): A writer for the Reuters news service put out a tweet after the screening. No other details provided.

U.N.C.L.E. movie co-writer talks to Collider about the film

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

Lionel Wigram, co-writer and co-producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, gave an extensive interview to COLLIDER.COM about the film. It was actually conducted in 2013 during filming. Here were a few things that caught our eye:

He says the relatively tight budget helped: In the summer of 2013, Variety reported the movie’s budget was reduced to $75 million after Tom Cruise opted not to play Napoleon Solo. That’s a quarter of what SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, is going to cost.

Wigram told Collider the budget made the movie better.

(T)here was certainly a moment when there was a version of the script which we budgeted was considered to be too expensive by all concerned and we had to do a job of compressing certain scenes, compressing the story to make it work [with the budget]. What I found was that creatively it worked better too, which I was surprised by, but sometimes if you’re willing and open to trying stuff, sometimes you surprise yourself and suddenly it all becomes much tighter. Where the centre of the movie was a bit flabby, suddenly the compression made everything move much quicker and gave it an energy that it hadn’t had before. It was a pleasant surprise.

How he and director Guy Ritchie and their production company got involved: Warner Bros. “brought up The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I remembered we both always wanted to do a spy movie so I said, ‘What about this?’” Wigram told Collider.

“This felt different in the sense that this was a 60’s spy movie, and it was two people instead of one. Instead of the lone spy it was two, so that was a good starting point. We thought, ‘What the hell, why not?’ It’s a good excuse to make our version of a spy movie, and it’s a good starting point of a structure.”

(SPOILER) There’s a twist: In the movie, Napoleon Solo works for the CIA and Illya Kuryakin for the KGB. Their bosses “have a little sneaky agenda, they hope to get one over on the other at the end of it, but at least for the time being there’s a temporary alliance and from that comes U.N.C.L.E.,” Wigram said.

Why do an “origin” story: “There’s no backstory in the TV show,” Wigram said. “Let’s give them interesting backstories. How can we give a context to this story, as I said, that’s interesting and has got some meat on it? And this was the best that I could come up with anyway.”

Casting of Henry Cavill as Solo: Wigram told Collider all involved considered an older Solo to entice an established star. “(B)ecause of Man Of Steel, Henry had become that much more of a bankable entity, so the studio was more confident about the idea of us doing it with two young guys.” Cavill was 30 during production and Armie Hammer, who plays Kuryakin, was 27.

There’s a lot more from Wigram. To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE. Also, here’s a shoutout to Henry Cavill News, which spotted the interview earlier and published THIS POST.

SPECTRE footage shown at CinemaCon (no spoilers)

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

Sony Pictures showed some new footage from SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, according to writers who attended.

The event is where studios make presentations for theater owners of upcoming films.

Steven Weintraub, the editor-in-chief of the entertainment website Collider.com, tweeted the following about Sony’s presentation:

Jim Vejvoda, executive editor-movies of IGN.com, also sent out a tweet:

Paramount and Warner Bros. on April 21 had presentations that highlighted Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., both coming out this summer. SPECTRE is due out in theaters in early November.

UPDATE (April 23): COMICBOOK.COM has a description of of the footage, leaving out what it describes as a “big spoiler.” For those who don’t want to know anything about the movie, even with the “big spoiler” withheld, don’t click on the link.

VARIETY also has a description of a key scene that’s part of the footage shown at CinemaCon. Variety doesn’t disclose the main spoiler, but has a plot detail not in the Comicbook.com story. Those who are super spoiler sensitive probably should avoid.

Zimmer scoring U.N.C.L.E. movie looks doubtful

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Composer Hans Zimmer has cast doubt whether he’ll be able to score The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie now in production.

Zimmer scored both of director Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies. In an interview with COLLIDER.COM, Zimmer was asked if he’d work again with Ritchie on U.N.C.L.E.:

“I have no idea, because once I’m really in full Interstellar mode I’m just gonna go be in full Interstellar mode. I think it might not work out timewise. I love Guy and I’d love to do something else with him. If it’s not this then I’m sure we’ll meet up again sometime.”

Interstellar is director Christopher Nolan’s new science fiction movie, which is scheduled for a fall 2014 release. Zimmer worked on Nolan’s Batman triology of films. The composer also is slated to do Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is also coming out next year. (Note: the Henry Cavill News fan site provided a heads up about the Collider.com interview.)

The composer slot is the last major crew position that hasn’t been announced for U.N.C.L.E., which doesn’t have a formal release date yet.

David Arnold, the five-time James Bond film composer, said SEPT. 3 ON TWITTER in a response to a question from this blog that he hasn’t been asked to do the job. With his Bond work, plus films such as a Samuel L. Jackson version of Shaft, Arnold has been willing to use theme music by other composers. Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004) wrote U.N.C.L.E.’s distinctive theme, something long-time fans would want in the movie version with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.

Another fan favorite would be Michael Giacchino, who did 2011’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, 2004’s The Incredibles and is slated to do at least three movies with 2014 release dates according to HIS IMDB.COM BIOGRAPHY.

Finally, a possibility that would excite some fans of the original 1964-68 series would be 81-year-old Lalo Schifrin. The Argentine-born composer is best known for his theme to Mission: Impossible. (The theme has been used in the four Tom Cruise movies but Schifrin has been passed over for actually scoring the films.)

Schifrin also scored two U.N.C.L.E. episodes as well as arranging Goldsmith’s theme for the second season.

Why we guess Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

This week, Gary Barber, the CEO of MGM Holdings Inc., the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said the company is “hoping within the next three years” that Bond 24 will be released.

That’s a much different tune that late 2010 when MGM, in bankruptcy court, said it planned TO GET THE BOND FILM SERIES BACK ON AN EVERY-OTHER-YEAR SCHEDULE. It was even different from November when Barber told investors that MGM was “hopeful” that Bond 24 could come out in 2014. “If not in ’14, certainly in ’15,” he said at that time.

With these week’s comments by Barber, entertainment Web sites such as WHATCULTURE! and FLICK DAILY are taking the MGM CEO literally and saying Bond 24 won’t be out until 2016. That’s probably extreme, but Barber and MGM clearly are backing off the idea of Bond 24 coming out in 2014.

Here are our guesses why:

Eon Productions (which actually makes the 007 films) doesn’t seem keen on a 2014 timetable: Last year, an executive of Sony Pictures (which co-financed Skyfall with MGM and co-financed the movie) said Bond 24 would make a 2014 release date. Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall star Daniel Craig slapped that idea down in an interview with COLLIDER.COM.

(QUESTION:) Last week Rory, the president of distribution of Sony, announced Bond 24 for I guess late 2014…

Broccoli: He was getting a little overexcited (laughs). We’re just actually focusing on this movie. One hopes that in the future we’ll be announcing other films, but no one’s officially announced it (emphasis added)

Craig: No one’s announced anything. He got a little ahead of himself (laughs).

(emphasis added)

Actually, somebody had announced something — an executive of Sony Pictures, an Eon Productions business partner who was acting in his official capacity, had announced that Bond 24 was coming out in another two years. In effect, Broccoli and Craig were saying, “Move along, nothing to see here.”

In an interview with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Barbara Broccoli had this comment about studios:

“Sometimes there are external pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit, and sometimes we’ve given into that,” Broccoli said. “But following what we hope will be a tremendous success with ‘Skyfall,’ we have to try to keep the deadlines within our own time limits and not cave in to external pressures.”

In the case of MGM, it co-owns the 007 franchise with Eon. But, based on these comments, it would seem as if Broccoli doesn’t view MGM exactly as a partner. At the very least, it doesn’t sound like Broccoli wants to hurry the process along. Meanwhile, Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli’s half brother and the other-co boss of Eon, had this to say in an interview with the DEN OF GEEK! Web site:

Have any preparations been made for Bond 24 yet?

Broccoli: No, no.

How long a space do you think you’ll need?

Wilson: If we’re rapid it’ll be two years, if we’re not it’ll be three. (emphasis added)

It’s not as critical for MGM to get Bond 24 out by 2014: When MGM made that filing in bankruptcy court it was, well, bankrupt. This week, it reported considerably improved financial results for 2012, much of it from Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit has release dates for sequels in 2013 and 2014. Presumably, MGM will want Bond 24 sooner than later, but a 2014 release date isn’t a matter of life and death for the studio. Meanwhile, Bond remains an important asset for MGM and CEO Barber talked on this week’s investor call how the company was working with its “partners” (his words) at Eon. If Eon isn’t that keen for a 2014 release, Barber has less reason to force the issue at this point.

To quote M from the film You Only Live Twice, “Mind you, all of this is pure guess work.” But our guess is that a 2015 release for Bond 24 is more likely than a 2014 one.