Danny Boyle talks about Bond 25

Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle, as part of an Esquire profile, said his version of Bond 25 would have been “all set in Russia, which is of course where Bond came from, out of the Cold War.

“It was set in present-day Russia and went back to his origins, and they just lost, what’s the word… they just lost confidence in it,” the director told Esquire.

This isn’t entirely surprising. Thanks to an interview that production designer Mark Tildesley did, it was known that a Russian gulag set was being constructed in Canada. Also, during the Boyle period of Bond 25, a replica rocket was built.

Boyle also said his screenwriter, John Hodge, also introduced a Bond’s child character.

“The idea that they used in a different way was the one of [James Bond’s] child, which [Hodge] introduced [and which] was wonderful,” Boyle told the magazine.

Boyle also expressed to Esquire a stronger misgiving about becoming involved in a franchise movie.

“I remember thinking, ‘Should I really get involved in franchises?’ Because they don’t really want something different,. They want you to freshen it up a bit, but not really challenge it, and we wanted to do something different with it.”

Bond 25 (eventually titled No Time to Die) began pre-production in 2017 with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as writers. Then, Boyle and Hodge figuratively raised their hands with their idea. In May 2018, it was announced Boyle would direct from a Hodge script.

Before the end of the summer of 2018, Boyle and Hodge exited. Purvis and Wade returned, with Cary Fukunaga directing (and writing also). The switch helped delay the project by about six months. COVID-19 then caused additional delays. No Time to Die didn’t come out until fall 2021.

Daniel Craig contracts COVID-19

Daniel Craig, who played James Bond in movies produced by Eon Productions from 2006-2021, has contracted COVID-19.

Here is an excerpt from the Deadline: Hollywood website.

There will be no Daniel Craig appearances in the latest Broadway staging of Shakepeare’s Macbeth for a while. The Longacre Theater announced that the actor has tested postive for Covid-19 and will be out for a while

Ticket refunds are available at place of purchase, according to the show producers. “We apologize for the inconvenience this causes ticket holders,” said a tweet announcing Craig’s illness. “But the safety of our audiences, the cast and crew remains our highest priority.”

A belated review of Spider-Man No Way Home

Poster for Spider-Man No Way Home

Spoilers contained for a movie out since December.

Spider-Man No Way Home may not have saved cinema but it made life easier for theater owners and generated enjoyment for theatergoers. The third Tom Holland Spider-Man movie has generated almost $1.9 billion in global box office.

During the COVID-19 pandemic that seemed impossible. But it happened anyway.

COVID prevented the blog from actually seeing the movie until this weekend. It’s understandable how the film made such an impact.

It combines typical comic book action with emotion, high stakes and tragedy. In the end, it also emphasizes personal sacrifice in an era marked by selfishness.

Being a comic book-based movie, Spider-Man No Way Home embraces the notion of a “multiverse,” or multiple dimensions. Holland eventually meets up with his predecessors as Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

Imagine, if you will, a James Bond movie in the 1980s where the Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore versions of Bond meet up.

That would have produced an emotional high. Bond, of course, isn’t intended for a “multiverse” presentation.

Spider-Man No Way Home isn’t perfect. The action sequences go on too long (a typical hazard of comic book films). But that’s mostly a quibble. The film has a lot of emotion. GRADE: A.

Variety suggests NTTD still is unprofitable

No Time to Die teaser poster

Variety has published a story suggesting No Time to Die still hasn’t made a profit despite becoming the No. 1 box office film in 2021 among non-Chinese productions.

Here is an excerpt:

The action-packed spy spectacle, which endured several coronavirus-related delays, has become the rare pandemic-era box office hit, which is even more impressive considering adult audiences — the core demographic for “No Time to Die” — have been reluctant to return to theaters. However, the movie cost more than $250 million to produce, at least $100 million to promote and tens of millions more to postpone over 16 months. Insiders say “No Time to Die” needs to make closer to $900 million to break even.

No Time to Die cost almost $300 million to produce, according to a U.K. regulatory filing in 2020. And there were THREE COVID-19 delays, not “several.” There were FIVE delays overall. Two were related to how Danny Boyle was replaced as director with Cary Fukunaga.

MGM, replying to Variety, issued a denial.

“Unnamed and uninformed sources suggesting the film will lose money are categorically unfounded and put more simply, not true.”

Just remember: People deny things they know to be true. MGM hasn’t provided any detailed financial information regarding No Time to Die.

According to Variety, MGM crowed about how No Time to Die passed F9: The Fast Saga. (Something that occurred this weekend.) So far, No Time to Die hasn’t matched either 2015’s SPECTRE nor 2012’s Skyfall. That latter is the only Bond film to exceed $1 billion box office in theaters.

Since the advent of COVID-19 in early 2020, the market for theatrical films has shrunk. Before the pandemic, there were 48 movies that had a box office of $1 billion or more. 2012’s Skyfall is No. 28 on that list.

With COVID-19, no movie has reached that worldwide box office level. Some Bond fans don’t like to hear that and have criticized the blog for bringing it up.

That’s how it goes.

Bond 25 questions: The box office edition (updated)

No Time to Die poster.

No Time to Die passed two box office milestones, $700 million worldwide and $150 million in the United States.

How important is this? Naturally, the blog has questions.

This is good news, right? It means that No Time to Die is the No. 6 box office movie in the U.S. so far this year and No. 2 globally among movies financed by major U.S. studios. The Bond movie may be about to catch F9: The Fast Saga at $721 million.

So? That means, even in a post-COVID 19 pandemic era, that James Bond still is very popular.

Is there a caveat? Yes. No Time to Die still hasn’t reached profitability during its theatrical release.

During a film’s theatrical run, studios split the take with theaters. No Time to Die’s production cost approached $300 million. It had additional marketing costs on top of that. The most notable was a February 2020 Super Bowl TV ad estimated at $5.69 million that was flushed down the drain by COVID delays. There were tens of millions of more dollars spent after that.

But aren’t there more revenue streams? Sure. There are video on demand rentals (which began in the U.S. on Nov. 9) and the early home video releases.

Still, studios prefer a movie get into profit territory during its theatrical release.

With COVID-19, studios are in new territory. Before the pandemic, studios were able to generate box office of $1 billion or more per movie in theaters. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame scored almost $2.8 billion in theaters worldwide.

In 2021, no movie has reached $1 billion. It’s a new world for studios for a lot of reasons.

No Time to Die was made during one era. It was released during another. Clearly, Bond’s popularity remains high. But the future may require changes. As usual, we’ll see.

No Time to Die passes $600M in global box office

No Time to Die logo

No Time to Die has passed the $600 million global box office mark as the 25th James Bond movie nears the end of its worldwide rollout.

The movie’s global figure is now an estimated $605.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo. This weekend saw the Bond film debut in China.

In the U.S., No Time to Die’s fourth weekend was an estimated $7.8 million for Oct. 29-31. That was 36 percent below the Oct. 22-24 weekend. A decline weekend decline below 50 percent is considered a strong box office performance.

In the U.S., No Time has generated an estimated box office of $133.3 million. That’s not as popular as globally but nothing to sneeze at.

Context: Globally, No Time to Die is one of the most popular films of the COVID-19 pandemic era. The champ is F9: The Fast Saga at $721.1 million.

However, the pandemic has changed things. The champ for 2019 (the last year before the pandemic) was Avengers: Endgame at almost $2.8 billion.

Keep in mind: These figures are called grosses (as opposed to profits) for a reason. The studios split the money with theaters.

No Time to Die’s production budget approached $300 million. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer spent millions of dollars beyond that in marketing.

Conclusion: It’s good news and bad news. Bond still is popular overall. It’s not so great for those who pay the bills. All concerned might want to be more budget-conscious for Bond 26.

NTTD passes $500 million global mark

No Time to Die surpassed the $500 million global box office mark this weekend. (UPDATE: The worldwide figure is at an estimated $525.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo.)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that would have been cause for mourning after four weeks in theaters worldwide and three weekends in the U.S. Before COVID-19, Bond would have been a candidate for a billion-dollar global box office.

However, in a post-pandemic marketplace, the 25th James Bond film, already ranks as one of the most popular movies in terms of movie theater box office.

No Time to Die passing the $500 million mark was noted in a story by TheWrap.

The highest COVID era box office currently is F9: The Fast Saga at $716.6 million. No Time to Die has yet to be released in China, Australia and New Zealand.

No Time to Die completed principal photography in the fall of 2019, before COVID-19 began to spread across the world. It has been delayed three times because of the pandemic. ‘

Meanwhile, estimates of No Time to Die’s third weekend in the U.S. were released. The Bond film came in No. 3 behind Dune, the major new movie out this weekend, and Halloween Kills. Here’s a tweet from Exhibitor Relations Co.

If No Time to Die passes F9 globally , that will be a sign that James Bond remains very popular. At the same time, a movie can be popular while unprofitable at least during its theatrical release.

No Time to Die had a production cost approaching $300 million. There were additional advertising and marketing expenditures. What’s more, the studios involved (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal) only get about half of the box office. In China, it’s only 25 percent.

As ever, we will see.

UPDATE: The U.S. weekend box office estimate is $11.9 million. The final figure will be out on Oct. 25.

NTTD opens in the U.S. with good news, not-so-good news

BOND: Harumpf!

First the good news: No Time to Die is projected to be the No. 1 movie in the U.S. this weekend.

Not-so-good news: The 25th James Bond film’s estimated weekend take (including Thursday night preview showings) is estimated at $56 million, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which track movie box office data.

That’s behind the U.S. opening of Skyfall ($88.4 million), SPECTRE ($70.4 million), and Quantum of Solace ($67.5 million). In U.S. terms, No Time to Die’s opening is the lowest since 2006’s Casino Royale ($40.8 million), when movie ticket prices were a lot cheaper.

The U.S. results for No Time to Die compare with an international opening of $121 million last week. That, of course, included the U.K., where going to a Bond movie is part of national pride.

Some context: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (a Spider-Man related movie) had an opening of $90 million last weekend.

To be sure: Comparing No Time to Die (released during the midst of a long pandemic) to earlier Bond films is dicey. No Time to Die’s release was delayed three times because of COVID-19.

On the other hand: U.S. audiences are turning out for movies. For whatever reason, in the U.S., Venom trumps Bond. I never thought I’d type that in a sentence.

I suspect Bond 26, whenever that comes out, will be shoved toward the end of the release dates. (joke/sarcasm)

UPDATE: Deadline: Hollywood reports that No Time to Die’s global box office is $313.7 million including this weekend’s U.S. results.

Not surprisingly, the U.K. paced the international results. Here’s the take from Exhibitor Relations Co.

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.

Bond 25 questions: Are we set for real?

No Time to Die poster from some time ago

No Time to Die’s final international and U.S. trailers are out. After five delays, it would seem the 25th James Bond film is a lock to come out soon.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Is this really it?

No Time to Die is scheduled to come out on Sept. 30 in the U.K. (and other countries). It’s scheduled to come out in the U.S. on Oct. 8. There are 28 days before the movie’s world premiere. There are likely fewer days before movie reviewers get to see it to do their reviews.

It would seem to be more than difficult to push it back a sixth time (twice because Danny Boyle was replaced as director, three times because of COVID-19).

Still some Bond fans recall this image from the Peanuts comic strip.

Many Bond fans won’t believe it until they’re in the theater watching No Time to Die.

What does this tell us?

It tells us there’s a limit how many times you can kick a movie down the road. At least that’s what studios (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal) as well as production companies (Eon Productions, which makes Bond films) apparently have concluded.

But is this the best time to release movies?

No. COVID-19 became a factor in early 2020. The pandemic has become more complicated as the virus has evolved. Viruses do that. At the same time, the money types evidently have concluded, at least in No Time to Die’s case, this has gone as far as it can.

Any other thoughts? I will repeat something I’ve said multiple times. No Time to Die was conceived in one era — studios could spend a ridiculous amount of money but get bailed out if the films generated billion-dollar global box office results.

That was supposed to happen with No Time to Die. Skyfall had a $1.1 billion global box office. SPECTRE fell short. But No Time to Die was intended to be the climax of the Daniel Craig era for Bond.

At this point, a $1 billion box office for No Time to Die seems a distant dream. The money people, it would seem, have decided to get what they squeeze from the production.