Bond 25 pre-announcement accuracy scorecard

A reader of the blog, @EiriniMakr on Twitter, suggested a post about inaccurate things published about Bond 25.

Well, we’ll go one step further. What follows is a look at major examples of what panned out, what didn’t and what was muddy.

DEFINITELY RIGHT

Craig was coming back: The Page Six gossip operation of the New York Post said Feb. 22, 2017 that Daniel Craig was indeed coming back to play 007 in Bond 25. It had another item to that effect on April 3, 2017. The New York Times has its own story about Craig’s return on July 24, 2017.

All of these were published before Craig announced in mid-August 2017 that he was returning (2:06 mark).

Purvis & Wade were (initially) hired to write Bond 25: Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported on March 9, 2017 that six-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had been hired to write Bond 25. This was confirmed in a July 24, 2017 announcement that the movie would have a November 2019 release date in the United States.

Danny Boyle would direct Bond 25: Variety reports Feb. 20 that Boyle was in contention to direct Bond 25. Deadline: Hollywood comes back Feb. 21 with a story that Boyle’s participation depends on whether an idea he has developed with writer John Hodge (and that Hodge is writing as a script) is accepted.

On May 25, it was announced Boyle is directing from a script by Hodge.

DEFINITELY WRONG

The Daily Mail says May 18, 2016 that Daniel Craig turned down an offer of 68 million British pounds to play Bond in two more films. Problem: Craig says in a public appearance in New York in October 2016 that there are “no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Also, Craig ended up coming back.

Radar Online says Sept. 3, 2016 that Sony Pictures was offering Daniel Craig $150 million to do two more James Bond film. Problem: Sony’s involvement as a Bond film distributor ended with 2015’s SPECTRE. The Bond 25 distribution wouldn’t be settled until last month and Sony wasn’t part of it.

The Mirror says July 29, 2017 that Bond 25 will be based on a 007 continuation novel by Raymond Benson titled Never Dream of Dying. Problem: Benson says on social media that he was never contacted by the Mirror and that he can only assume the story was a fabrication. Also, Eon Productions has been notoriously adverse to using Bond continuation novels as the basis of its films. A sequence from Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun was adapted for SPECTRE but you have to dig deep into the end titles to find acknowledgment of it.

Archivo 007, a fan website, says Dec. 2, 2017 Christopher Nolan is “more than likely” to direct  Bond 25. Problem: Didn’t happen. Nolan said in a BBC interview in February he wasn’t going to direct the film.

The Sun says April 26 that filming on Bond 25 “has been put back to later next year” because Daniel Craig’s wife, actress Rachel Weisz, is pregnant. ProblemThe May 25 official announcement about Boyle, Hodge, et. al., specifies that Bond 25 is to begin production Dec. 3.

MUDDY

This section involves stories that are plausible but aren’t likely to be confirmed definitively

Deadline: Hollywood says on July 26, 2017 that  Denis Villeneuve, Yann Demange and David Mackenzie are the “frontrunners” to direct Bond 25. Variety says the same day that Demange is the leading contender. (Variety also said Daniel Craig was likely to return.)

Some Bond fans were extremely enthusiastic about Villeneuve. And the director said in a November podcast that, ” “I had some contact” regarding Bond 25. But Villeneuve said he was is working on a new version of Dune and that was that.

So taking Villeneuve at this word, one of those three directors had been contacted about directing Bond 25. Were Demange and Mackenzie also under consideration? No way to know at this point.

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Caveat Emptor (Cont.): Craig says it’s an honor to play 007

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

Today, THE DAILY MIRROR WEBSITE has posted an interview with SPECTRE star Daniel Craig, which has a different tone than one released last week.

The Mirror doesn’t specify when the interview took place. The interview posted last week by Time Out London occurred a few days after SPECTRE finished production.

The Time Out interview included a quote that was widely picked up by other media outlets. The star was asked if he could image doing another James Bond movie. “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists.”

The actor’s quotes in the Mirror interview come across differently.

Here’s an excerpt:

This is your fourth outing as Bond. You’re not bored yet, then?

These movies don’t get made very often. And if you can’t get excited about making a movie of this size, with this cast, with Sam Mendes and this crew, then go home.

(snip)

James is getting on a bit now. How much longer can he keep hanging out of helicopters?

He’s old now, 47… But as long as he’s physically able. Which isn’t that long! I’m contracted for one more film which seems to be a fair number, but I’m not going to make predictions.

These films are such a huge commitment, why would you want to do more?

Money! No, I love playing him. It’s an honour to play him, I get such a big kick out of doing it. I had an opportunity with Casino Royale to wipe the slate clean.

I’m not saying it was a rebirth of Bond, that sounds conceited and I was a huge fan of Bond before. But I couldn’t just do a movie where I was going to straighten the tie and drink a Martini, it’s all been done before. It had to happen in the right way.

Again, let the buyer beware. Some fans say Craig loves to play mind games with the press. Some fans will say the Mirror interview show how he really feels. Others will interpret the Mirror interview as damage control. How you view the quotes is up to you.

To read the entire Mirror interview, CLICK HERE.

Gerry Anderson, master of Supermarionation, dies

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson (1929-2012)


Gerry Anderson, the master of the Supermarionation universe of puppets and elaborate miniature flying (or submerged) vehicles, died Dec. 26 at the age of 83. His Supermarionation programs as well as some of his live-action television shows crossed paths from time to time with James Bond.

Anderson’s children programs were produced in the U.K. and found their way to the U.S., often syndicated to local television stations. The specific situations varied but the likes of Supercar, Fireball XL-5, Stingray and Thunderbirds, among others, featured heroic characters with unusual names such as Mike Mercury, Steve Zodiac and Troy Tempest do battle with menaces of all kinds, whether they be on the surface of the Earth, under the oceans of Earth or in outer space.

One of Anderson’s frequent collaborators was Derek Meddings, who provided the miniatures that were an important part of the Anderson shows, which frequently found their way into toy stores. When Meddings did the elaborate miniatures for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979’s Moonraker, Meddings was an old hand at providing an elaborate product on a budget.

Anderson used actors with ties to the 007 film series to voice characters, including Lois Maxwell on Stringray (as Atlanta Shore, who pined for hero Troy Tempest, not unlike her Moneypenny role in the Bond films) and Shane Rimmer as one of the intrepid Tracy family that ran and operation International Rescue on Thunderbirds.

What’s more, Anderson’s live action syndication UFO series starred Ed Bishop, who, like Rimmer, had small roles in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever. UFO, while a science fiction show, had a touch of 1960s TV spy programs. It featured an organization called SHADO, whose mission was to combat invading hostile aliens. SHADO’s secret headquarters was underneath a movie studio. The SHADO logo evoked the logo of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Anderson also had a personal experience with the Bond films. This is how Anderson told the story in a 2009 interview with the DEN OF GEEK Web site:

Could I ask you about your ‘lost’ version of Moonraker, which you lost through no fault of your own when Saltzman split with Broccoli? What was your vision for that film compared to what hit the screen in 1979?

I never got to actually having a vision! What happened was that Harry Saltzman phoned me and said ‘Can you pop in? I’d like to see you’. I went in and he said ‘Gerry, I want you to produce the next Bond picture, Moonraker – here’s the book’. I nearly took off and went into orbit [laughs]! I just thought it was a marvellous, marvellous break.

I read the book, which frankly wasn’t very exciting, and terribly out-of-date, as one would expect. I was initially trying to cement the deal, and at that time I would have put my thoughts together. What happened was that Tony Barwick – the late Tony Barwick, one of my favourite writers – and myself had written a synopsis. Harry had seen the synopsis and that was the reason he called me – he was fired by it.

But a few weeks went by and then…just the worst bit of luck in my life, I think! It was announced that Harry Saltzman was parting company with Cubby Broccoli. And so the thing went down the tubes.

According to ANDERSON’s BIOGRAPHY on Wikipedia.org, the Supermarionation producer started a Moonraker lawsuit but settled for 3,000 British pounds.

To read more about Anderson, you can view his obituaries ON THE BBC’S WEB SITE and at THE DAILY MIRROR’S WEB SITE. Also, you can view THE ASSOCIATED PRESS’S OBIT VIA THE HUFFINGTON POST.

UPDATE (Dec. 28). The Spy Vibe blog has a Gerry Anderson article that includes details about an episode of Thunderbirds very much inspired by 007. To read it, CLICK HERE.

Skyfall is economizing, the Mirror says

Skyfall is cutting back on filming at actual locations to reduce its budget, according to the U.K. newspaper the Mirror.

In a story YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE, the newspaper says the only actual location for the 23rd James Bond movie is Turkey. Here’s an excerpt:

"What do you mean, I have to fly coach?"

James Bond producers have had to slash their budget and are shooting in Bognor Regis after scrapping plans to head for six different exotic countries to make the next 007 film Skyfall.

Instead of distant locations such as India, China and Bali, they are using various UK beaches. Skyfall will also rely heavily on special effects and advanced sets at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

A source said: “To say some of the cast and crew are a bit gutted is an understatement.

“Originally six different countries were selected to film certain scenes but after several technical and financial problems, it was decided to scale back and just use Turkey as the sole foreign location.”

Back in November, the bosses of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, denied there had been any financial cutbacks during a news conference. Later that month, according to the MI6 James Bond fan Web site, Ascot Racecourse was being used as a location, doubling for the airport in Shanghai. The same fan site had a story saying that sequences of Daniel Craig swimming in a pool were filmed in the U.K. but in the film’s story are supposed to occur in Shanghai as well. If the Mirror is to be believed, that trend will continue.

However, it’s not like Eon hasn’t done this sort of thing before. You Only Live Twice’s first unit went to Japan and did the rest of its work at Pinewood. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service did location work in Switzerland and Portugal. From Russia With Love went to Turkey and Dr. No went to Jamaica. Few fans of those films complain about the lack of location shooting. Eon sent a skeleton crew to the U.S. but the exterior of Fort Knox was built at Pinewood and the interior was, of course, a Ken Adam-designed set.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail HAS A STORY but it seems to mostly repeat what the Mirror reported without adding much, if anything, new. The MI6 Web site summarized the Mirror story while accusing the Mirror of fabricating the main quote.

UPDATE II: The Guardian published an essay ON JAN. 19 essentially saying trimming Skyfall’s budget would be a good thing. But the story does nothing to verify the original Mirror story.

MGM watch: Nikki Finke Web site says nothing new on Bond 23

Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site says it’s way too early to say Bond 23 is dead.

A post by editor Mike Fleming says reports from the Daily Mirror (and others) this past weekend that Bond 23 has been canceled are over the top:

While Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros would love to grab the Eon Productions franchise, I’m told reliably that as long as MGM’s debt restructuring is preceded by a pre-packaged bankruptcy, Bond isn’t going anywhere.

For the uninitiated, in a pre-packaged bankruptcy, a company first obtains agreements from its lenders on restructuring its debt. The company then files for bankruptcy, but the having the agreements in hand minimizes the time in bankruptcy court.

In an update to the post, Fleming added this:

“You are absolutely right, there is no new news. Development will resume once MGM is viable again, as Danjaq can’t go anywhere without them. So all bets are off. No idea when this will get resolved,” a source integral to the Bond franchise told Deadline London editor Tim Adler today.

To read Fleming’s entire post (which also says Daniel Craig and would-be director Sam Mendes aren’t going anywhere, click the above link or JUST CLICK HERE.

Here’s also a shoutout to the Commander Bond.net Web site, which had its own summary YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. That summary, by Matt Weston, also includes a link to a related Hollywood Reporter link.

UPDATE: MGM, meanwhile, is seeking yet another extension of a moratorium on its debt payments, according to a July 7 story by Ronald Grover on Bloomberg.com:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the film studio up for sale after falling behind on $3.7 billion in debt, will ask lenders to extend a moratorium on interest payments, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The Los Angeles-based company will e-mail ballots to more than 100 creditors this week, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because discussions are private. The current forbearance expires on July 14.

You can read the entire story by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

ITN calls Bond 23 `cancelled’

ITN, on its Web site, has a video dated July 4 that refers to Bond 23 as being “cancelled,” saying it may be “several years” before another 007 movie hits the screen. “It’s goodbye, Mr. Bond, as time has been called on the latest installment of the 007 series,” it begins.

You can view the video by CLICKING HERE.

(July 10 modification of this post) OR: ITN uploaded the video on YouTube, so we can embed it below:

A few caveats:

ITN doesn’t cite how it learned this. The report just says “the money situation” at MGM (which isn’t named, just referred to as “the studio”) hasn’t improved so “the plug has been pulled indefinitely.”

ITN doesn’t cite a July 2 report in the U.K. newspaper Daily Mirror that kicked off this latest round of media reports saying the Bond 23 delay announced in April had become more serious. The Daily Mirror cited a “glum insider” it didn’t name. Thus, by implication, ITN is passing this off as their own reporting while not being very transparent about the details.

Finally, ITN presents no evidence it actually sought either MGM or Eon Productions out for comment before sending out the video.

In short, fans convinced this is all tabloid rubbish (as some are doing on message boads of 007 fan Web sites), probably won’t be convinced otherwise by this.

UPDATE: The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is now getting into the act. In an entry in the newspaper’s FILM BLOG, WHICH YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE, the Guardian provides pros and cons whether the 007 film series should even continue or not.

The start of that blog entry writes of Bond 23 being cancelled as a given while providing no hard information:

Bond 23 – the Sam Mendes Bond, the Peter Morgan Bond, the Bond that was going to right all the wrongs of Quantum of Solace – is no more. Although its status had been set to “indefinitely delayed” since April, the continuing financial mess at MGM means that the film has now been cancelled altogether. It also means that we’re back in a situation where the next 007 movie could feasibly be several years away.

We’ll give a shoutout to “danslittlefinger,” who posted the link on the MI6 fan Web site message board.

HMSS revised handicapping of spy movie projects

Back in mid-April, we did some handicapping on some spy movie projects in various stages of development.

Less than three months have passed and there have been some developments, some firm, some murky. So here’s a revised odds board.

Bond 23: This project is the latest in the news, though that would have to fall under the murky category. The Daily Mirror in the U.K. said Bond 23 had been “canned” because of MGM’s financial problems.

The paper cited a “glum insider” it didn’t identify and quoted a statement from Eon Productions that didn’t confirm but didn’t really deny it, either. Media reports about James Bond movies have a mixed record. Nearly 30 years ago, for example, there were reports that Eon was considering James Brolin to play 007 in Octopussy. In 1994, Brolin’s screen tests were shown at a 007 fan convention in Los Angeles, showing they were right even though Roger Moore ended up coming back for Octopussy.

It would be nice if we knew something, anything about the “glum insider.” Does he/she have direct knowledge? In theory, it could be anyone from Eon boss people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, down to a grip. Still, even if you discount the Daily Mirror report, MGM hasn’t been making much progress on the financial front. Bottom line: the news isn’t good, the question is exactly how bad it is.

ORIGINAL ODDS: 4-1
FIRST REVISED ODDS (after Eon said Bond 23 was being delayed indefinitely): 10-1
REVISED ODDS (discounting Daily Mirror but noting lack of MGM progress): 15-1
REVISED ODDS (accepting Daily Mirror): 100-1

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4: Some news has occurred since our original mid-April rankings. The Empire Web site quoted Tom Cruise as confirming that Brad Bird was definitely onboard to direct the film. But Paramount also announced in May the release date had been pushed back to December 2011. Still, all this showed that things were happening.

The biggest cloud now over the project may be whether Paramount is getting cold feet because of the disappoint box office receipts of Cruise’s recent Knight and Day movie, according to a story by Mike Fleming of Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site.

ORIGINAL ODDS:2-1
REVISED ODDS: 3-2

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. A weblog of the Los Angeles Times reported June 28 that Warner Bros. likes a script commissioned earlier this year, wants to proceed with it but is still looking for a director.

We’ve been speptical since this latest version first surfaced earlier in the year, in part because have been lots of U.N.C.L.E. scripts that have gone nowhere. Things are still murky but something appears to be happening.

ORIGINAL ODDS:100-1
REVISED ODDS:25-1

New (serious) Matt Helm movie: Not much news on a movie that’d be a more faithful version of Donald Hamilton’s “counter assassin.”

ORIGINAL ODDS: 10-1, no revision.