How not to write a Bond 25 story

Poster for SPECTRE

Like a cancer metastasizing throughout the body, The Mirror’s July 8 story saying Daniel Craig is definitely returning as James Bond is spreading through the media.

Various outlets, including the Los Angeles Times,  Fox News and Esquire have summarized the Mirror story.

However, The Mirror’s original and the stories based on it have mostly overlooked some key facts. Very important facts. Here are some of them.

There’s nobody to pay Daniel Craig — yet. The Mirror & Co. depict Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli as having a firm lock on his services.

Problem: Eon doesn’t pay the bills of a Bond movie. The studio or studios involved do.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is Bond’s home studio. But it can’t release its own movies. It needs a studio partner to co-finance and distribute MGM films. And, for the moment, there is no Bond 25 distributor.

Maybe MGM reaches an agreement later this year. Maybe a commitment from Craig (even a verbal commitment) helps that process. But until it happens, nobody is available to actually pay Daniel Craig if he, indeed, is coming back.

There’s no director yet. You can’t have a movie without a director calling the shots. Maybe Bond 25 will get a director later this year. But until it does, not much is going to happen.

There’s no script yet. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to come up with a story, according to the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who has had a number of 007 scripts proven correct this decade.

The duo have had more than four months (and perhaps longer) to work up a story. But until a director comes on board, things can only go so far. Directors love to tweak story elements, etc. And that process can’t begin until you have a director, etc.

What’s this John Logan reference? The Mirror says John Logan, who worked on Skyfall and SPECTRE, is working on Bond 25. There’s no evidence that’s the case.

If it really is true, that would be a big turnaround. Thanks to the Sony hacks of 2014 (Sony Pictures released the last four 007 films), it’s known that Eon was unhappy with Logan’s first draft for SPECTRE, something that eventually led to the return of Purvis and Wade.

If (and that’s a HUGE if) Logan really is involved with Bond 25 that’s a major change. But, of course, you’d have to be familiar with the history to make note of that.

Has anything changed the past three months? In April, Page Six, the gossip operation of the New York Post also said Barbara Broccoli pretty much had Daniel Craig committed.

Has something actually changed since that report? The Page Six story got nowhere near the attention the Mirror has. Regardless, it’s a notable piece of background.

Our latest Bond 25 questions

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It’s summer. Instead of going to the beach the blog came up with some new Bond question after this weekend’s story by the U.K. tabloid Mirror saying Daniel Craig would play 007 for a fifth time.

Here goes.

What’s the difference between the July 8 Mirror story and an April 3 Page Six column

Not that much on the main point.

“Daniel Craig has changed his mind and is set to sign up for his fifth Bond movie,” The Mirror said.

“Multiple sources tell Page Six that Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli has ‘just about persuaded Daniel Craig to do one more Bond movie,'” Page Six said more than three months earlier.

How solid is this newest story?

Reading the Mirror story is like trying to read quicksand — mushy and opaque.

The Mirror’s story begins by making like Craig’s return is a done deal. “But Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is said to have secured Craig – and we can reveal she is ‘determined’ that superstar singer Adele will record the theme tune.”

To support this notion, the story presents a quote from a person it didn’t identify.

“It’s taken time but Daniel has come round and the strong consensus in the Bond offices is that Mr Craig is 007 again.” (Emphasis added.)

Whoa! Consensus? Bond offices? Did the office personnel at Eon take a vote? Isn’t Barbara Broccoli the one who decides everything? At least that’s what Sam Mendes has said.

The Mirror’s first paragraph said he’s set to sign on the dotted line. What’s this about a consensus? Is there some doubt, even a tiny bit? What gives?

Anything give you pause?

Adele has injured her vocal chords and canceled the last two stops of a tour. That’s a potentially serious situation for a professional singer.

Despite that, the Mirror says, “Although Adele had to cancel the final two shows of her world tour because of damaged vocal chords, Barbara is said to be ‘talking the singer round’.”

Is this really the time to make a hard to Adele to sell to sing a Bond song — for a movie with no director or release date?

Also, the Mirror says, “Skyfall and Spectre scriptwriter John Logan is also said to be involved in the project.”

That’s interesting because Logan’s first draft for SPECTRE was judged to need extensive reworking. So much so, that veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were brought back to revise Logan’s work. The extent of SPECTRE’s scripting difficulties became public as a result of the 2014 hacking at Sony Pictures.

Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported in March that Purvis and Wade were hired to start work on a Bond 25 story.

That’s not been officially confirmed but Bamigboye has a good track record of 007 scoops that prove to be correct.

Now, out of the blue, the Mirror brings Logan into the conversation. This is perhaps the shakiest aspect of the Mirror story.

Caveat Emptor: Mirror says Craig will return as 007

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig will play James Bond for a fifth time, The Mirror said.

“Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is said to have secured Craig – and we can reveal she is ‘determined’ that superstar singer Adele will record the theme tune,” the tabloid said.

The story quotes someone it doesn’t identify as saying: “It’s taken time but Daniel has come round and the strong con–sensus in the Bond offices is that Mr Craig is 007 again. As for Adele, she’s more of an unknown quantity but loved being part of Bond, so the signs are positive.”

A couple of reasons for the Caveat Emptor label:

–The story also says, “Skyfall and Spectre scriptwriter John Logan is also said to be involved in the project.”

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported in March that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to devise a Bond 25 story. Bamigboye has a track record of stories being proven correct.

Moreover, Purvis and Wade were brought back to revise SPECTRE drafts Logan and written. The Mirrror is the first outlet to say Logan is involved with Bond 25.

–Adele injured her vocal cords and canceled the last two shows on a world tour. Is this the best time to entice her to sing a Bond title song?

–There’s still no distributor for Bond 25 yet.

–Minor point but the story lists Craig’s age as 48 when it’s 49.

How to write a ‘Time to End 007 Movies’ essay

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Something you can count on, at least every so often, is for the appearance of an essay saying it’s time for James Bond to put up his shoulder holster up for good.

The blog was reminded about this during an exchange on Facebook. A reader posted THIS JULY 5, 2010 ESSAY BY THE GUARDIAN.

At the time, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, was in bankruptcy and the future of the 007 franchise was more uncertain.

Still, the essay by Stuart Heritage provides a template for the next time a scribe wants to declare the cinematic Bond is dying.

With that in mind, here’s an excerpt from the 2010 story altered to fit 2017.

Bond 23 25 – the Sam Mendes Bond, the Peter Morgan Bond, the Bond that was going to right all the wrongs of Quantum of Solace  SPECTRE – 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 puttering around. It also means that we’re back in a situation where the next 007 movie could feasibly be several two or three years away.

The ramifications are huge, not least for Daniel Craig who, at 42 49, may have slipped into the old tuxedo for the last time. But maybe it’s time that a bigger question was asked. Should James Bond’s enforced hiatus be turned into a permanent retirement?

(snip)
James Bond isn’t James Bond any more. He’s a tedious exercise in relentless product placement transparently modelled on Jason Bourne the Batman films of director Christopher Nolan. James Bond actually died long ago, when Roger Moore strapped himself into his first male girdle and started wheezing around in a safari suit. The Connery films will still exist no matter what happens at MGM. Do people really want anything else?

Just to be clear, this isn’t an endorsement of the 2010 Guardian piece. The alterations are intended as parody of a genre that, sooner or later, will return “with the inevitability of an unloved season.”

RECAP: 007 film franchise at mid-2017

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

For the James Bond film franchise, the first half of 2017 was similar to 2016: more heat than light.

There has been nothing confirmed in the first half of the year. There have been two meaningful bits of Bond film news:

–Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported in March that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were retained to work on Bond 25, which would be their seventh 007 scripting effort.

The reason that merits serious consideration is that Bamigboye had a number of scoops concerning Skyfall and SPECTRE that were proven to be correct.

–The New York Times reported in April that five studios made proposals to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to be its studio partner to release Bond 25.

According to The Times, four were established studios: Sony Pictures (which has released the last four 007 films), Warner Bros., Universal and 20th Century Fox. The fifth is an upstart, Annapurna, a movie production company just now entering the movie distribution business.

The significance: The Times has more gravitas than entertainment news websites and British tabloids (including Bamigboye’s Daily Mail), where a lot of 007 items originate.

Other than that? A lot of stories about British bookmakers setting odds for different actors to play 007 in Bond 25. There have also been stories that speculated about actors and Bond.

Eon Productions bought a helicopter from a museum early in the year but, according to the MI6 James Bond website, that aircraft is for a non-Bond film project.

There have been examples of journalistic empty calories, including a Twitter post last month by The Tracking Board’s Jeff Sneider. He tossed out the idea that Eon Productions would like a 007 film universe but hasn’t provided anything to back it up.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for Bond 25 to come out in 2018, something many fans want to happen.

In July 2013, more than a year before SPECTRE came out, there was a confirmed director (Sam Mendes’ return to the director’s chair was announced July 11, 2013); a confirmed Bond distributor (Sony); and a confirmed Bond star (Daniel Craig).

There’s still no distributor for Bond 25. Maybe MGM makes a decision in the second half of 2017. Still, Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions said in November 2015 that he was expecting a decision in early 2016.

No director is in place for Bond 25. There’s no confirmed James Bond actor for Bond 25. Some fans believe it’s a cinch Daniel Craig will be back for his fifth 007 film. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.

But until the distributor selection is made, it doesn’t really matter. MGM, Bond’s home studio for more than 35 years, is one of the weakest studio operations. It can’t release its own films. It needs partners to co-finance and distribute them.

Jeff Sneider follows up on 007 universe rumor

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Jeff Sneider, editor in chief of The Tracking Board website, has weighed in with his opinions about the 007 film franchise.

Sneider last week wrote a post on Twitter saying there were rumors that Eon Productions wanted a 007 film universe. It was widely picked up by entertainment news websites.

Sneider is part of an online show, Meet the Movie Press. In the newest edition, posted June 30, the website editor expanded upon his tweet.

“Let’s start with that pesky, little tweet of mine. Was this even a big thing?” Sneider said. “I tweeted something to the effect I heard the Broccolis were planning a Bond unvierse and potentially juggling multiple movies simultaneously.

“To me, to have a Bond movie once, I don’t know, once every three or four years in this kind of competitive landscape, you can’t really do that anymore. You have to keep the well going. I don’t know if Bond thinks it’s special.”

However, Sneider didn’t demonstrate a detailed knowledge of Bond.

“I heard Daniel Craig is coming back but I heard he could be passing the reins to another 007. James Bond is a code name, right? His name actually isn’t James Bond, right?”

007 film scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have said in the past (including a 2007 interview at the former Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website that’s no longer online) that James Bond is not a code name.

“We don’t believe Bond is just a transferable codename – and don’t like the idea at all,” Purvis and Wade said in that interview. “Bond is a character, a special individual, who happens to have been played by different actors.”

You can read that quote in the comments section of this 2015 post on the Cinelinx website. The comment was posted by Tom Zielinski, who did the 2007 HMSS interview.

Meanwhile, on The Meet the Movie Press, Sneider also suggested the Bond franchise could also make a Jane Bond film and then have a “James and Jane pair-up.”

“I just think there’s a lot more that you can do with that franchise,” Snider said. “I just think this franchise is at a crossroads. If it’s not at a crossroads now, it will be at a crossroads in a few years.”

Finally, he said: “As a reporter, one of the most fun things to speculate about I feel like Bond news breaks overseas anyway, it’s always Baz Bamigboye (of the Daily Mail). You can say anything you want. It’s open season.”

You can view the whole thing here. The Bond discussion begins around the 2:12 mark.

When does the 007 franchise face forward again?

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The past few weeks have reminded James Bond fans of the tremendous history of the film franchise.

Events included the passing of the longest-serving film Bond, Roger Moore; the passing of a fondly remembered 007 actress in Molly Peters from Thunderball; the chance to see Bond on the big screen via a double feature of For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me.

The question is when will 007 face toward the future once again?

More than 18 months since the last Bond film arrived in theaters, nobody really knows when agent 007 will again be on movie screens in a new adventure.

There is, still, no studio to release Bond 25. There is, still, no firm Bond actor for Bond 25. Many assume Daniel Craig will be back but that’s a matter of faith, rather than fact. There is, still, no supporting cast or firmed up crew.

Some fans have faith that Bond 25 can still be made in time for a 2018 release. Maybe they’re correct, but the clock is ticking.

The purpose of this post isn’t to be a downer. Rather, it’s to note how the attention has been to the past.

It is an amazing past. It’s a past to be proud of.

Still, one is reminded of a line uttered by the Roger Moore 007 in Octopussy.

“I collect memories,” says Kristina Wayborn’s Magda.

“Well, let’s get on with making a few,” Sir Roger’s Bond replies.

Indeed.