Bond 25 questions: The glass half-full/half-empty edition

No time to panic..

So Bond 25 has been delayed again. It has now been assigned its third release date since July 2017. And the news came one day after fans had begun their one-year countdown art and memes.

As usual, the blog has questions. But the blog is switching up the format with this post.

Is this bad news?

Half-full answer: It’s not even a two-month delay. Nothing to see here. Move along. No reason to panic.

Half-empty answer: Any other shoes to drop?

What’s going on?

Half-full answer: Universal, which will distribute Bond 25 outside North America, is juggling its schedule. Fast & Furious 9 (working title) has been moved from April 10, 2020 to May 22, 2020. So it makes sense to movie Bond 25 to April 8 and get a start on the Easter weekend for 2020.

Half-empty answer: Bond 25 hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck. Some movies get moved earlier (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation by months in 2015 and Avengers: Infinity War by a week in 2018).

Let’s say this release date won’t change (really). Will it be good for Bond?

Half-full answer: People go to movies at times other than summer and the Thanksgiving-Christmas period. Batman v Superman opened big during Easter weekend 2016. Admittedly it fell off quickly, but people came to see it opening weekend. Furious 7 (part of the Fast & Furious series) had a big opening during Easter weekend 2015.

Half-empty answer: We’ll see. This is new territory for Bond.

Isn’t this weird? Three release dates?

Half-full answer: Nothing to see here. Move along. Release dates change all the time.

Half-empty answer: Of course it’s weird. Let’s face it, Bond 25 has had a development full of twists and turns.

Star Daniel Craig and producer Barbara Broccoli each take an extended break after 2015’s SPECTRE. The first release date (November 2019) was announced in July 2017 when no distributor was in place (and wouldn’t be for months). Craig finally came back but that was followed by a long director search, one director signing but leaving (Danny Boyle) followed by a quick search for a replacement, etc., etc. etc.

So for argument’s sake, assume this newest delay is strictly Universal’s doing. It still comes on top of a longer-than-usual gap. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) went bankrupt in 2010. That resulted in a four-year gap between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. The current gap already was longer with nothing as calamitous involved.

Daniel Craig to be a presenter at 2019 Oscars

Oscars logo

Daniel Craig will be a presenter at this year’s Oscars show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement on its website.

The academy also released the names of presenters in a series of tweets this morning. Besides the James Bond star, other presenters include Chris Evans, Jennifer Lopez and Charlize Theron. The academy said it will be making additional announcements of talent that will participate in the Oscars show.

Craig’s wife, Rachel Weisz, is a nominee for Best Supporting Actress. The Oscars ceremony is Feb. 24, shortly before Bond 25 is scheduled to begin principal photography on March 4.

Broccoli not giving up on Craig for Bond 26, Sun says

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and her star Daniel Craig

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli hasn’t given up on Daniel Craig returning for Bond 26, the tabloid Sun newspaper said.

“My Bond insiders insist boss Barbara Broccoli has not seriously considered a single name from the raft of potential replacements that have been touted,” columnist Dan Wootton wrote.

But Broccoli has ignored the chatter because she is “loyal to Daniel” while he remains 007, according to sources. Further, she feels that hunting for a replacement while he is in the job would be “disrespectful”.

(snip)
The insider – who has revealed a string of exclusives about the Bond world – added that Broccoli has not even officially drawn a line through the possibility of Craig making another film.

The Sun didn’t specify what “string of exclusives” has been revealed by the insider. Among U.K. tabloids, the Daily Mail (mostly via writer Baz Bamigboye) has had substantive 007 film scoops proven correct. The Sun, though, on Oct. 21 2011 reported that James Bond would have a beard in Skyfall. (Sorry, original link has gone dead.) So there’s that.

The Sun, in a story by a different writer, said in an August 2018 story that Broccoli and Craig wanted Bond to die at the end of Bond 25. From that story:

It would be a final hurrah for Daniel, and leave fans hanging.

“It would also leave it open for a twist in the next instalment — either Bond hadn’t died or there could be a Doctor Who-esque regeneration with a new actor.

Supposedly, according to that August account, director Danny Boyle objected and that was a reason he left the project.

Both Broccoli and Craig took a longer break after 2015’s SPECTRE to pursue non-Bond projects. Bond 25 is scheduled for a February 2020 release. At the current pace of 007 film production, Bond 26 won’t be out until at least 2023, maybe 2024.

h/t to @CorneelVF on Twitter for pointing out the latest Sun effort.

Tidbits from updated 007 book

Cover to the updated edition of Some Kind of Hero

The blog ordered the updated edition of Some Kind of Hero by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury, an extensive look at the 007 film series. What follows are some tidbits since the original 2015 edition. The book has an expanded chapter on SPECTRE, plus a new chapter about the preliminary development of Bond 25.

–The idea of releasing SPECTRE in the summer of 2015 apparently was considered for a time. The book doesn’t state this explicitly. But there’s this passage in the chapter on SPECTRE:

(Skyfall director Sam) Mendes recalled, ‘It took MGM and Eon accepting that the movie wasn’t going to come out in the summer of ’15. I said I couldn’t do it that fast’ (emphasis added)

Sony Pictures, which distributed and co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE had told movie theater executives that Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) would be out in 2014. Barbara Broccoli, Eon’s boss, and star Daniel Craig shot down that idea in interviews during publicity for Skyfall. After that, nobody talked about Bond 24/SPECTRE having a 2014 release.

–SPECTRE received $14 million in Mexican tax incentives. Among the conditions: The sequence filmed in Mexico had to have a Mexican Bond girl, a non-Mexican Bond villain and the target of an assassination plot had to be “a local governor and not an ambassador.” The authors, in a footnote, cited a 2015 article from http://www.taxanalysts.org as their source of the information.

–The Bond 25 chapter implies the search for a distributor delayed development. Sony’s deal expired with SPECTRE. “By late 2016, no distributor had been announced and thus no screenplay, title director or cast could have been announced.”

However, Eon and MGM announced a fall 2019 release date in July 2017 despite having no distributor in place. It wasn’t until May 2018 that it was announced a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures would release the film in the U.S. and Universal would handle international distribution. (This is referenced later in the chapter.)

Because of publication deadlines, the book’s Bond 25 chapter includes Danny Boyle being hired as director but doesn’t include his exit because of “creative differences.”  Cary Fukanaga was hired to replace Boyle, with the release date pushed back to February 2020. Obviously, there is more fodder for future editions.

The updates also include, understandably, a new Roger Moore chapter following the death of the seven-time 007 in 2017.

M:I accelerates its output amid longer 007 film gaps

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The facts are clear. The importance is a little fuzzy.

So, producer-star Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie intend to do two Mission: Impossible film back to back. The movies would come out in 2021 and 2022.

If that works out, that means there will have been four M:I films (all directed by McQuarrie) from 2015 to 2022. There will have been two 007 films (2015’s SPECTRE and 2020’s Bond 25) coming out during that same period.

The M:I development makes sense in that Cruise will turn 60 in 2022. While a fantastic physical specimen for a middle-aged guy, the clock is ticking on Cruise’s time as a movie action hero.

The two McQuarrie-directed M:I films (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible-Fallout) have been big hits. So it’s a natural studio Paramount could secure his services for two more movies. On top of everything else, McQuarrie and Cruise obviously get along.

Once upon a time, something similar was envisioned for the Bond series. John Logan was hired to write Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) and Bond 25. Skyfall director Sam Mendes, in a 2014 interview, said that he came back to helm SPECTRE after plans were ditched to do Bond 24 and 25 back to back. Star Daniel Craig had vetoed the idea.

Bond fans have a mixed reaction to this. There are the usual social media posts about Bond is superior, Bond is forever, Mission: Impossible will be done when Cruise is done, etc.

But there are also gibes (such as this one by the author of a Bond-related book) calling Cruise a “teeny man.” Cruise is listed at 5-foot-7 on IMDB.com while current 007 star Daniel Craig towers above him by an entire three inches, according to that same website. Craig is no runt but he’s definitely the shortest Bond in a series cast with tall actors.

(Historical note: Albert R. Broccoli, the co-founder of Eon Productions, had his early successes as a producer after he and his then-partner Irving Allen signed 5-foot-6 1/4 Alan Ladd as a star.)

The M:I news hardly means the end of Bond. And nobody is seriously making that argument.

At the same time, M:I has been showing more energy (perhaps because of the aforementioned ticking clock). On the Bond side? It star, Craig, and lead producer, Barbara Broccoli, wanted to do other things after SPECTRE. “Everybody’s a bit tired,” Craig said during a 2016 appearance.

As I said at the beginning: The importance of all this is fuzzy. M:I will do what it has to do (with the “teeny man” having a BIG say). The Bond series will do what it wants to do. Unlike other franchises, Bond is not totally controlled by a studio and the one studio involved (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) a weak industry player.

McQuarrie to direct 2 M:I films back to back, Variety says

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Christopher McQuarrie has agreed to direct two more Mission: Impossible movies for Paramount, Variety reported and film them back to back,  citing people familiar with the situation it didn’t identify.

McQuarrie wrote and directed the last two installments in the Tom Cruise series, 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossibl-Fallout. Both were hits, with the latter addressing loose ends from previous M:I adventures.

The decision to film two films at once, with McQuarrie again writing and directing is  “to take advantage of the popularity of the series,” wrote Variety’s Justin Kroll. The first would be out in 2021, the second the following year, Variety said.

Cruise, who turns 57 in July, also is committed to the two movies, according to Variety.

In 2012, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced John Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25. The announcement occurred after the release of Skyfall, the first 007 film to generate $1 billion in global box office.

Star Daniel Craig vetoed the idea of making two Bond films back to back. Bond 24, later titled SPECTRE, came out in the fall of 2015. Bond 25 is scheduled to be released in February 2020.

Other franchises, though, have done back to back productions. Marvel Studios took that approach with Avengers: Infinity War, released in 2018, and Avengers: Endgame, scheduled for release this spring.

UPDATE Jan. 15: Both McQuarrie and Cruise confirmed the news on social media.

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Irony of the day: Daniel Craig’s training regimen for Bond 25

Daniel Craig’s 007 enjoys a few (hic) Vespers.

In Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, James Bond was known to smoke as many as 70 cigarettes a day and gulp down double bourbons (followed by martinis and pink champagne) not to mention having 11 whiskeys and soda while paying a friendly game a bridge.

Meanwhile, the Mirror, weighs in with a story that begins thusly:

Daniel Craig may well be gasping for a vodka martini after a strict regime to ensure he is fighting fit for his next outing as 007.

With seven weeks till he begins shooting Bond 25, I hear he has been shunning booze and calorie-rich food at this week’s ­Hollywood bashes to stay trim.

The star, 50, even skipped the BAFTA Tea Party at the Four Seasons – babysitting his four-month-old daughter in a suite upstairs while wife Rachel Weisz had some fun.

The cinematic Bond hasn’t had a cigarette since Timothy Dalton retired from the role after 1989’s Licence to Kill. But he’s had plenty of booze, even if it was far less than the literary Bond.

All of this, of course, has been part of the 007 film fantasy. The literary Bond’s drinking and smoking habits mirrored his creator, who died at the age of 56 on Aug. 12, 1964 — just before the Bond phenomenon took off.

In 2012’s Skyfall, Craig’s chiseled 007 supposedly is on his last legs. There’s a scene where he can’t finish doing chin ups.

Granted, Craig’s appearance likely was the result of a training program. But viewers of the film don’t see that. They have to draw their own conclusions. That’s similar to the stars of recent super hero movies (Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and others) who underwent similar training before the cameras rolled.

The Mirror story passes for 007 news these days. When production starts on Bond 25, the situation will change.