About those Bond 25 delays

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Since the most recent six-week delay for Bond 25 was announced on Friday, there has been a lot of reaction. One recurring theme has been in tweets and elsewhere in social media saying to get over it, you’re being childish by being upset, etc..

For a recap, here’s a look at some previous gaps in 007 films:

1989-1995: A legal fight between Danjaq/Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; major disruptions at MGM (eventually it got taken over by a French bank); Danjaq/Eon considered a sale but didn’t follow through. Pretty major stuff.

2002-2006: Dana Broccoli, matriarch of the Broccoli-Wilson clan died in 2004. Eon did soul searching, decided to reboot with Casino Royale. Change in leading man. Pretty major stuff.

2008-2012: MGM (Bond’s home studio) goes bankrupt and reorganizes. Pretty major stuff.

2015-present: Well, there was…no calamity remotely as severe as the aforementioned gaps. No MGM bankruptcy. No reboot. No recasting of leading man.

Regardless, the current gap already is on pace to be the second-longest gap, with the latest release date of April 8, 2020.

You could argue it’s good that Eon is taking time with Bond 25’s story, reportedly hiring Scott Z. Burns to rewrite the script. Better to nail down the script before production.

Sure. That’s a glass half-full outlook and perfectly understandable. See THIS VIDEO and THIS VIDEO for examples.

On the other hand, condescending, pats on the head aren’t a good look. If you want people to take a more positive outlook, lecturing isn’t the way to achieve your goal.

Writer rosters for Eon 007 films

SPECTRE’s crowded writer title card.

This week, the Geeks Worldwide website said Paul Haggis had turned in a Bond 25 draft, rewriting work by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

If so, Haggins joins a growing roster of Bond 25 scribes, including the team of Purvis and Wade as well as John Hodge.

As it turns out, that’s probably more routine than not. Here’s an incomplete list of screenwriters who took a whirl at Eon’s 007 film series.

Dr. No: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather (credited), Wolf Mankowitz (uncredited)

From Russia With Love: Richard Maibaum (credited for screenplay), Johanna Harwood (credited for adaptation), Len Deighton (uncredited).

Goldfinger: Richard Maibaum, Paul Dehn (credited). In addition, Wolf Mankowitz sold an idea to Harry Saltzman — Goldfinger disposing of a gangster (initially Mr. Springer, but Mr. Solo in the final film) in a car crusher. Mankowitz’s fee was 500 British pounds in cash, according to the book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger.

Thunderball: Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins (credited).

You Only Live Twice: Roald Dahl (credited for screenplay), Harold Jack Bloom (credited for additional story material).

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Richard Maibaum (credited for screenplay), Simon Raven (credited for additional dialogue).

Diamonds Are Forever: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

Live And Let Die: Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

The Man With the Golden Gun: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

The Spy Who Loved Me: Christopher Wood, Richard Maibaum (credited). Tom Mankiewicz, Cary Bates, Sterling Silliphant, Ronald Hardy, Anthony Burgess, Derek Marlowe, John Landis, Anthony Barwick (uncredited).

Producer Albert R. Broccoli, in his autobiography, When the Snow Melts, said he and his wife Dana really came up with the shooting script.

“One day Dana and I were at our home in California and we had all these scripts, close to a dozen of them, spread out all over the room,” according to the autobiography, written with Donald Zec. “We sat and talked for hours with Dana scribbling ideas down on paper. We rewrote the whole story…Lewis (Gilbert, the director) said it was the first time a producer had come to him with a storyline that worked.”

Moonraker: Christopher Wood (credited), Tom Mankiewicz (uncredited), Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (writing team, uncredited).

For Your Eyes Only: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

Octopussy: George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

A View to a Kill: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited)

The Living Daylights: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

Licence to Kill: Michael G. Wilson, Richard Maibaum (credited).

GoldenEye: Jeffrey Caine (credited for screenplay), Bruce Feirstein (credited for screenplay), Michael France (credited for story), Kevin Wade (uncredited).

With Tomorrow Never Dies, only Bruce Feirstein received a writing credit despite several writers working on the film.

Tomorrow Never Dies: Bruce Feirstein (credited), Donald E. Westlake, Nicholas Meyer, Daniel Petrie Jr., David Campbell Wilson (uncredited).

The World Is Not Enough: Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (credited for screenplay and story), Bruce Feirstein (credited for screenplay), Dana Stevens (uncredited).

Die Another Day: Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (credited).

Casino Royale: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (credited)

Quantum of Solace: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (credited), Joshua Zetumer (uncredited).

Skyfall: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (credited). Jez Butterworth (uncredited).

SPECTRE: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (credited for story and screenplay), Jez Butterworth (credited for screenplay).

Publicist’s book: For 007 completists only

Cover to Jerry Juroe book

Charles “Jerry” Juroe, a veteran movie publicist, met many famous and interesting people over a long career. But that doesn’t mean the telling of those interactions is interesting.

That’s the problem with his book, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn. Many names get dropped. Observations are made. And we’re off to the next anecdote. It’s like an extended party conversation rather than a narrative.

Juroe had separate stints working at United Artists (in the 1960s when the 007 series was launched) and later at Eon Productions where he headed the publicity operation for about a decade before retiring in 1990. In between, he also did publicity for The Man With the Golden Gun

That’s supposed to be the selling point for the book.  That’s why he’s holding a gun on the cover. The Beatles get a quick mention in a chapter about United Artists. Marilyn Monroe is the subject of a pre-UA chapter when Juroe did publicity for 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl.

Among the 007 insights provided: Columbia Pictures messed up by passing on Bond, allowing UA to make the deal. Dana Broccoli made “immense and continuous contribution behind the scenes.” Albert R. Broccoli, “oh-so-steady and ways in control,” was “a perfect match” for Harry Saltzman. UA made a mistake with the first U.S. release of Dr. No but wisely did a quick re-release Juroe liked Christopher Lee, “a thoroughly decent human being and also a world class raconteur.” Roger Moore’s then-wife Luisa was “volatile.”

There’s more, of course. But there’s not a lot of depth.

Of all the anecdotes in the book, one of the most attention grabbing took place years before Juroe’s involvement with Bond.

Juroe worked at Paramount in the 1950s. The publicist writes he was in a limo with William Holden and his wife Brenda Marshall after the actor won his Oscar for Stalag 17. “You didn’t deserve that,” Marshall said. “Holden’s fingers white with rage as his fist tightened around his Oscar,” Juroe writes

It was a revealing moment. But it’s over in a few sentences. We’re off to another Oscar-night anecdote.

For 007 completists, who can’t get enough books about 007 films, the book may be worth the time. Others may or may not find the book worth their while.

Bond 25: The passionless 007?

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Bond 25 is progressing. Nobody knows how quickly. Nobody outside Eon Productions know exactly what’s happening..

Despite questions this blog has raised (including how nobody knows the distributor who will actually get the movie to theaters) , chances are the next James Bond film will still come out in the fall of 2019.

Why? Well, somebody is likely to step up even if Skyfall and SPECTRE generated small profits for Sony Pictures, the distributor for those two 007 films. Bond, at least for now, still generates a lot of global attention.

Bond still is a way to promote other, more profitable movies for studios that may become involved in Bond 25’s distribution.

The question remains whether Bond 25 will generate passion for global movie audiences.

Marvel Studios’s Black Panther, the newest member of the billion-dollar movie club, generated passion. It was viewed as a breakthrough for a vast audience that finally got to see sympathetic movie characters who looked like them.

That’s passion.

James Bond movies, of course, have been around for more than 55 years. There have been a half-dozen actors who’ve played Bond in the films.

Yet, the lack of Bond passion goes beyond familiarity.

The two custodians of the 007 franchise (Barbara Broccoli, 57, and Michael G. Wilson, 76) have spent the bulk of their lives in Bondage. That’s both a tremendous achievement (keeping such a franchise going) and, one suspects, a tremendous burden.

Broccoli and Wilson operated for years under the watchful eye of Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli (1909-1996) and his wife Dana Broccoli (1922-2004).

Since then, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson have pursued non-Bond projects for many years now. Bond is lucrative. The other projects have provided variety. Maybe even provided passion.

In the coming months, there likely will be many stories generated about Bond 25.

But the larger question is whether Bond 25 will generate passion — for Broccoli and Wilson as well as the larger 007 audience.

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But it’s something to keep in mind as the Bond 25 story unfolds.

Casino Royale’s 10th: The ‘kids’ make the series their own

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

This month’s 10th anniversary of Casino Royale is best known for the debut of Daniel Craig as James Bond and the 007 film series being rebooted.

But it’s also when the “kids,” Barbara Broccoli, now 56, and Michael G. Wilson, now 74, really made the series their own.

Albert R. Broccoli, co-founder of Eon Productions, died in 1996. His wife Dana, mother to both Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, remained a behind-the-scenes presence until she passed away in 2004.

The “kids” (as some fans refer to them) were looking to make their own mark and make changes.

“We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Wilson told The New York Times in October 2005, recalling his thinking on the matter. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

That included the reboot, starting the series over; finally adapting Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel after acquiring the film rights after many years; informing Pierce Brosnan he no longer had the 007 role; and casting Daniel Craig (with Barbara Broccoli as his primary champion), performing a tougher interpretation of the part.

In November 2006, when Casino arrived in theaters, the movie, its new approach and its lead actor received many good reviews. It has a 95 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Michael G. Wilson

Michael G. Wilson

“Daniel Craig makes a superb Bond: Leaner, more taciturn, less sex-obsessed, able to be hurt in body and soul, not giving a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred,” movie critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013) wrote of the film’s star.

Of the movie itself, Ebert wrote: “With “Casino Royale,” we get to the obligatory concluding lovey-dovey on the tropical sands, and then the movie pulls a screeching U-turn and starts up again with the most sensational scene I have ever seen set in Venice, or most other places. It’s a movie that keeps on giving.”

Daniel Craig and Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig and Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale

Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade did the initial adaptation, with Paul Haggis polishing up the story, with all three receiving credit. Martin Campbell came aboard as director. Campbell had helmed Brosnan’s first Bond with GoldenEye and oversaw Craig’s first 007 adventure.

Casino Royale set a high bar for the “new” series to maintain. The challenges of doing that would unfold in coming years.

The main thing in November 2006 was, after a four-year absence, Bond was back — different but still 007. And the “kids” were responsible.

Michael France, an appreciation

goldeneyeposter

The James Bond film franchise wasn’t in a good place in 1994.

There had been no 007 film in five years. Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli had been in a legal fight with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Broccoli had put Eon up for sale before taking it off the market. The producer wasn’t in great health. He had decided that 007 veterans John Glen and Richard Maibaum would not continue laboring on Bond.

In short, everything was up for grabs.

Broccoli yielded primarily responsibility for overseeing Bond 17 to his stepson, Michael G. Wilson, and his daughter, Barbara Broccoli. But if the cinematic Bond was going to make a comeback, somebody had to step up.

That somebody was screenwriter Michael France, who died last week at the age of 51.

“I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was watching Goldfinger,” France was quoted by Steven Jay Rubin in his The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia’s updated 1995 edition. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be Richard Maibaum, not Bond.” According to Rubin’s account, he was given the chance to come up with a script in March 1993.

“We had meetings twice a week for several months with Michael, Barbara, Cubby and Dana,” France told Rubin, referring to Wilson, Barbara Broccoli as well as Albert R. Broccoli and his wife Dana. “We also wanted a villain on the level of Goldfinger — with an elaborate, unsinkable plot. At the same time, we also want him to be credible as a threat — that all of the story elements were based in reality, that these things could happen.”

In 1994, France delivered a first-draft script. It took a real-life event, a 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and went from there. There was no way to know it at the time but France’s script was prescient because on Sept. 11, 2001, the towers were brought down by a terrorist attack.

France’s script wasn’t the last word. Other writers revised his draft. France only got a “story by” credit while Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein got the “screenplay by” credit. Only Feirstein was invited by Wilson and Barbara Broccoli back for the next Bond film. Feirstein’s FIRST DRAFT also got revised, much the way France’s GoldenEye initial draft was. Still, Feirstein got the sole screenwriting credit for Tomorrow Never Dies. That’s show business.

The fact remains that the cinematic Bond was dead in the water until Michael France delivered his script. By that time, Richard Maibuam, the dean of 007 scriptwriters, was dead. Cubby Broccoli was in failing health. And the future of the cinematic Bond was far from assured. The work was far from complete. But Michael France gave everybody a starting point. For that alone, his contributions to the film franchise are huge.

Craig offered 007 extension, U.K.’s The People says

Daniel Craig may get the chance to wear his James Bond tuxedo for a long time.

Daniel Craig has been offered an extension of his 007 contract that would result in him playing James Bond for another five films, the U.K.-based The People says, quoting producer Michael G. Wilson in an interview.

If that happens, Craig would have been Bond for eight films, more than either Roger Moore (seven films in the series produced by Eon Productions) and Sean Connery (six Eon films and the non-series entry Never Say Never Again). He’s filming his third, Skyfall, now. Here’s an excerpt:

JAMES BOND actor Daniel Craig has been offered a multi-million pound deal to become the ­longest serving 007 of all time. (snip)

Legendary Bond producer Michael G Wilson said: “Daniel’s been a terrific Bond, a superb actor and a ­terrific man. The fans love him and I don’t think there’s a better actor to play the part…It’s certainly something we’ll be ­discussing with him once we finish shooting Skyfall…I’d love Daniel to surpass Roger’s record and do eight pictures.”

A few observations:

1) If Craig agrees to an extension, the actual number of movies will depend on whether Eon is ready to do the 007 pictures on an every-other-year basis. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, when it went through bankruptcy, said it planned to release Bond movies on such a schedule. But MGM and Eon share control of the franchise. MGM can’t release movies if Eon hasn’t made one.

2) Craig will be 44 when Skyfall is released. Another five movies on an every-other-year schedule, would put the actor at 54 when Bond 28 comes out in 2022. If the movies have a 3-year gap here and there, well, he’d be older than that after an eight-film run.

There’s only this quote from Wilson:

“The director Sam Mendes and Daniel are taking it back to a 60s feel – more Sean. I think that’s what the fans wanted. There’s a magical Goldfinger feel ­surrounding it all. It’s all very exciting. I can’t wait for people to see the movie because I think we’re making a very special Bond.”

Our No. 3 observation: The film will determine if that’s the case. For now, these are only words.

One factual error in the story: it refers to producer Barbara Broccoli as being Wilson’s “step-sister.” They are half siblings because they had the same mother, Dana Broccoli.