Limbo for the serious 007 fan awaiting real news

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It’s a weird time to be a James Bond fan.

A typical social media day for a 007 fan consists of the following:

–The latest speculation who will be the next James Bond, whether it be (in alphabetical order) Henry Cavill, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Aidan Turner and who knows who else.

This gets repackaged in various ways. When the various actors are out promoting their latest movie or television shows, they get asked about Bond and that becomes the story instead. Or, to attract clicks, an outlet will write about why some possible Bonds shouldn’t get the role. Or, British bookies adjust their odds for the next 007 and stories get generated.

Whatever. It’s not real news.

–A notification that today is either the anniversary of a birth date of a Bond actor or crew member or the annivesary of the death of a Bond actor or crew member.

–An obituary of a Bond actor or crew member, such as the passing of four-time 007 director Guy Hamilton.

There’s an odd effect to all this. For the serious fan, one can’t excited about the future Bond actor speculation. At this point, we don’t even know there’s a vacancy. Yeah, Daniel Craig talked in some interviews like he was ready to go but nobody *really knows*. And none of the speculative stories has any *actual information.*

Meanwhile, the barrage of the latter two social media postings (anniversaries and obituaries) keep pushing fans to look backward, rather than forward. It’s like “Throwback Thursday” every day.

The obituaries are important, because they recognize the accomplishments of those who can no longer speak for themselves. The anniversaries have their place but in the absence of actual news, they get more attention than they should.

In terms of Bond 25, we probably won’t get any real news until Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer either signs a new contract with Sony Pictures or selects a new studio to release the next 007 film. Afterall, you can’t have a release date until there’s a studio to release it. And MGM doesn’t have the resources to do so by itself.

So, for now, Bond fans are in for a form of limbo. The future is foggy while what little hard information is out there pulls attention backward instead of forward.

 

007 silly season proceeds

Matthew Goode, 38, appears unlikely to utter the words, "Bond, James Bond," for audiences.

Matthew Goode, 38, may not utter the words, “Bond, James Bond,” for audiences.

The following is presented for entertainment purposes only.

Matthew Goode, 38, who played Henry Talbot in Downton Abbey, has “scuppered his chances” to play James Bond, according to a story in the Daily Mail that cites a Thursday appearance on British television.

On the televised interview, Goode said he wasn’t invited back for a second interview.

Here’s an excerpt:

The actor took a swipe at the 007 film franchise after revealing he had auditioned for the titular job but hadn’t been invited back for a second during a appearance on This Morning on Thursday.

He continued: ‘I think they should half the budget. Reboot it. I don’t think modern Bond is working as well [as old Bond].’

How much of this is fact and how much is fantasy? Your guess is as good as ours. Still, if true, it *might* be worth noting that the actor got push back on the idea that Bond films need to reduce their budgets. SPECTRE’s budget exploded, spurring a lot of concern that became public because of the Sony Pictures hacking.

–Ralph Fiennes has said (ACCORDING TO THE DEN OF GEEK WEBSITE) he signed a three-picture deal to play M but doesn’t know if he’ll be back for Bond 25.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I have no idea”, Fiennes said, unsurprisingly. “I’m poised to do another Bond if they want me, and I don’t know who is going to be next – it may still be Daniel (Craig) – no one knows. I signed up for three, and I’ve done two, but I don’t know what the variants of the contract are except that we’re all waiting to see ‘will Daniel do another, will he not?’ and if he does, I have a feeling I will be M and if he doesn’t, I’m waiting to hear where they’ll take it.”

Let’s face it: at this point, there’s no real news about Bond 25. But we stand by our modest proposals for Bond 25, including worry about story first, worry about your 007 actor second.

Guy Hamilton, an appreciation

Goldfinger poster

Goldfinger poster

James Bond was never the same after Goldfinger and director Guy Hamilton got done with it.

The first two 007 films, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, were solid successes at the box office. Goldfinger was a spectacular one.

The first two movies contained humor. Goldfinger expanded it.

Dr. No had elements of stories found in pulp magazines and From Russia With Love was grounded in the Cold War. Goldfinger was outlandish, including a henchman with a deadly hat, a tricked out car with an ejector seat among other gadgets and a villain who planned to explode an atomic bomb inside of Fort Knox.

In short, Goldfinger was 1964’s equivalent to today’s comic book-based movies. And Guy Hamilton, who died this week at age 93, was the ringmaster of the show.

Hamilton, in interviews he granted in his later years, made clear Goldfinger was never intended to be anything other than escapist entertainment. Audiences couldn’t get enough.

From that point forward, Bond had to be spectacular. Thunderball, helmed by original 007 director Terence Young, advertised itself as “the biggest Bond of all.” You Only Live Twice tried to be even bigger than that, including a villain’s lair hidden inside a volcano.

The series tried to reel things back a bit with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with George Lazenby succeeding Sean Connery as Bond. Director Peter Hunt insisted on a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s 1963 novel, unlike how You Only Live Twice jettisoned most of the author’s 1964 book. But Majesty’s was still huge and escapist, not a Cold War thriller like From Russia With Love.

When Majesty’s box office fell off from You Only Live Twice (which in turn earned less than Thunderball), the production team opted for “another Goldfinger.” That included bringing Guy Hamilton back as director for Diamonds Are Forever.

Guy Hamilton (1922-2016)

Guy Hamilton (1922-2016)

Diamonds also was helped by the return of Connery (a United Artists move). But the movie also reflected a clear change in tone from its predecessor to something much lighter and fluffy.

Diamond smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) is aware of the existence of Bond (“You’ve just killed James Bond!” she says after 007 switches wallets with deceased thug Peter Franks.) Blofeld at one point dresses in drag as part of a getaway. Some sequences (a chase involving a moon buggy and plant security cars comes to mind) contain a lot of slapstick.

Bond again was a success at the box office. Hamilton was retained to help introduce Roger Moore as the new 007 after Connery again departed the series.

The lighter tone continued, even intensifying, including a long boat chase in Live And Let Die and a ditzy Mary Goodnight in The Man With the Golden Gun. The former was a big hit worldwide, becoming the first Bond to exceed Thunderball at the box office. Golden Gun, however, fell off from that.

Hamilton was hired to direct his fifth Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, but changed his mind and bowed out. In the 1990s, Hamilton told writer Adrian Turner that he probably had stayed too long with the series.

Perhaps so. Nevertheless, Hamilton had an enormous impact on the film Bond. Goldfinger let a genie out of the bottle. It wasn’t until the 21st century with the 007 films of Daniel Craig that there was a sustained, concerted effort to dial back humor. For Your Eyes Only and Licence to Kill were one-off attempts to do so. Even so, the former included an ending with slapstick involving a Margaret Thatcher lookalike and the latter had an over-the-top Wayne Newton and an ending featuring a blinking fish.

Even the Craig films, though, reflect the Hamilton-directed Bond movies.

Skyfall and SPECTRE include the tricked out Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. (Casino Royale had a different, left-hand drive DB5 without gadgets.) A car chase in SPECTRE contains Goldfinger-style lightness. Quantum of Solace had a Goldfinger homage — a woman dipped in oil, rather than a woman painted in gold paint.

Goldfinger’s impact on the series lingers today. Guy Hamilton was one of the major reasons.

FiveThirtyEight: Being 007 is bad for your career

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

What actor wouldn’t want to be James Bond? You’re paid well. There’s a worldwide audience awaiting your next film. You will be one of the most famous people on earth.

Well, according to ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight blog, it may not be good for your career.

FiveThirtyEight, formerly affiliated with The New York Times, helped popularize “data driven journalism,” where data, and not snark and supposition, drives stories.

FiveThirtyEight (named after the number of electors in the U.S. electoral college) was founded by Nate Silver, who gained notoriety for correctly forecasting results of the 2012 U.S. presidential election when the site was part of the Times. Silver later moved on, selling FiveThirtyEight to Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN.

Anyway, FiveThirtyEight is about more than politics and goes into entertainment news. As a result, the site’s Ben Lindbergh analyzed career trajectories of James Bond actors.

Here’s an excerpt:

While ur-Bond Sean Connery made the character an icon and, in the process, became iconic himself, the returns for the actors who’ve succeeded him — even excluding George Lazenby, who hadn’t acted in films before becoming Bond and who went one and done with “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” — have been more mixed. To determine the potential impact of playing Bond on an actor’s output, I analyzed the IMDb user ratings for each post-Lazenby Bond’s acting work from the five years before his first Bond film, the years during his reign, and the five years after he retired his tux, excluding uncredited roles, one-episode spots on TV shows, voice work and video games.

Lindbergh writes that those IMDB user ratings are higher for 007 actors during the five years before they became Bond compared with their 007 years or the five years following the role.

Lindbergh wrote: “Acting credits tend to dwindle after Bond, perhaps because financial security frees actors to take fewer roles; Bond-related fame and advancing age limit their other options; or celebrity, protracted productions and the need to recover from the beatings they take sidetrack their careers. (Or your alternative theory!)”

What spurred the post is speculation that Tom Hiddleston could be in the running to succeed Daniel Craig following the former’s appearance in the miniseries The Night Manager.

To read the entire post, CLICK HERE. It’s titled “Pray Your Favorite Actor Doesn’t Become James Bond.”

Deadline estimates SPECTRE’s profitability

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

Deadline: Hollywood, the entertainment news website, estimates that SPECTRE generated a profit of $98 million for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures to split 75-25.

“Sony and MGM split the production-cost funding 50/50 and then MGM takes 75% of the profit and Sony 25%, with the latter not getting a distribution fee on top of that, which is an amazing deal for MGM,” according to Deadline.

The estimates take in home video, pay television and other sources of revenue beyond theater ticket sales.

Based on the Deadline figures, MGM would get a profit of about $73.5 million and Sony about $24.5 million.

That’s less than the studios got for 2012’s Skyfall, which had a larger box office and lower budget. MGM got a profit of $175 million while Sony got $57 million, The Wall Street Journal reported last year, citing internal documents released in the hacking at Sony.

Sony’s deal to release Bond movies for MGM ends with SPECTRE and it remains to be seen whether Sony wins a new contract or another studio signs on.

THE DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD STORY by Mike Fleming Jr., also estimates that Danjaq LLC, parent company of Eon Productions, got $50 million and the Ian Fleming estate $10 million because of payments received from “first-dollar gross positions.” Or put another way, Danjaq and the Fleming estate get their cut off the top as the money begins to roll in.

The SPECTRE estimates were part of the website’s “Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.”

Deadline also said 007 actor Daniel “Craig’s deal is not very rich – $7M upfront plus about $4M on the back end.” If so, that runs counter to other reports.

The International Business Times said last year Craig stood to make $39 million from SPECTRE.

To read the entire Deadline story, CLICK HERE.

Below, is an embedded copy of the chart that runs with the Deadline story. You can click on it to see a bigger image.

UPDATE: In a SEPARATE STORY, Deadline: Hollywood estimates that Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation was more profitable for Paramount ($109.8 million) than SPECTRE was for MGM and Sony.

Bond 25: What’s being talked about, what isn’t

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

In sports, there’s the season and the “off-season,” where some players retire, others change teams, etc. For fans of the James Bond films, this “off-season” is a little off kilter.

What’s mostly being talked about is who the next 007 is going to be — even though the incumbent (Daniel Craig) hasn’t actually said if he’s done with the role or not.

Last week, Tom Hiddleston was the center of attention after the actor said he’d like the role if he got the chance. This week, Irish actor Aidan Turner is in the spotlight after THE SUN RAN A STORY that Turner “has jetted to LA where he is holding talks about becoming the next James Bond.”

The story is a bit lacking in detail. Evidently, he’s far from a sure thing because Turner “will have fierce competition from Brit stars including Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy.”

There’s also a quote from an unidentified source: “Aidan has held preliminary talks with Bond producers and being in LA will give him a further chance to discuss the role.” The preliminary talks reference is interesting but it sounds like the source doesn’t know whether or not Turner will actually have talks with Bond people in LA or not. He just has “a further chance” to talk about it. Regardless, other media outlets picked up on the Sun’s story.

Meanwhile, something people aren’t talking much about is what studio will actually release Bond 25 whenever it does come out.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise, is too small to release movies. The contract of Sony Pictures, which has released the last four Bond films, expires once SPECTRE is out of theaters (it’s still on 16 U.S. screens this week). It was thought a new deal — with either Sony or somebody else — would be struck early in 2016.

It is still early, but the year’s first quarter is nearing an end.

Sony’s most recent two-picture deal was a bad one for the studio — it financed half of Skyfall and SPECTRE, but only got a quarter of the profits. The Sony executive who struck that deal, Amy Pascal, is gone. Other studios are interested but would they agree to the kind of terms Sony provided?

Hard to say, but for now it’s not a subject getting that much attention.

How a line from David Lean applies to Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bondlifier  feed on Twitter

The line we’re referring to comes from the director’s 1957 epic The Bridge On the River Kwai: “Madness! Madness!”

Put another way, the last few days have been a doozy regarding the future of the cinema version of James Bond.

Character actor and Daniel Craig friend Mark Strong, while promoting a movie, was quoted by THE SHORT LIST WEBSITE as saying:

““Do you know what, I’d have loved to have played the villain in a Bond movie while Daniel was doing it because he’s a pal and that would have been great. But I think he’s come to the end of his Bond time and so it’s probably never going to happen, but that would have always been great.”

Despite starting off the last sentence with the words, “But I think,” Strong’s comments were read as a virtual confirmation not only by The Short List but by THE INDEPENDENT (albeit with the qualifier “seemingly”), THE DAILY MAIL, THE MIRROR,  MOVIE WEB and /FILM.

In turn, FORBES.COM film writer Scott Mendelson used the news (such as it was) to write why Craig should come back for a fifth outing as 007, even though the writer criticized SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, when it came out.

Separately, actress Naomie Harris, weighed in on Twitter with her opinions about 007 film’s future, including how she hopes her portrayal of Miss Moneypenny will eventually be seen like Judi Dench playing M:

Imagine what it will be like when there’s actual news about Bond 25.

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