Bond 25: The week the optics changed

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

The Royal family this week, intentionally or not, gave 007 an assist with the optics of Bond 25’s production.

Prince Charles on Thursday showed up at Pinewood Studios and chatted with the likes of Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and director Cary Fukunaga on Bond 25 sets.

As is often the case, there were many media members in attendance, with video and stills being taken.

It wasn’t the prince’s first turn at doing this sort of thing, In the 1980s, he and his then-wife, Princess Diana, toured Pinewood during production of The Living Daylights.

Such visits are arranged well in advance. It’s not like Prince Charles would just show up at Pinewood.

Still, for one day at least, the images and stories generated from the visit washed away a lot of previously Bond 25 publicity concerning star injuries, script rewrites, the departure of Danny Boyle as director, an explosion that damaged the famous 007 Stage and tales of other problems.

The timing may have been coincidental. But for Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal (the latter handling international distribution of Bond 25), the prince’s visit could not have come soon enough.

For those who wanted more, a video by 5 News provided some Bond 25 tidbits as the prince asked questions of the Bond 25 cast and crew.

To be sure, Bond 25 has a lot of filming to go. About a third has been completed. Also, making large, big-budget movies rarely is an easy endeavor.

Still, the topic of Bond 25 conversation has been changed, at least for a while.

Prince Charles picks up some Bond 25 secrets

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

At most mild spoilers, but go away if you’re spoiler adverse.

Bond 25 got a lot of publicity when Prince Charles visited Pinewood Studios today. In return, the Prince of Wales was briefed on some Bond 25 secrets.

5 News posted more than 20 minutes of video from the prince’s visit. The audio wasn’t the best but you pick up some of what he was told about.

Alterations to the Aston Martin DB5: Daniel Craig showed the prince a DB5 that was on display. Well, it turned out there was more than met the eye.

“Underneath here…is a BMW engine on a modern chassis, modern suspension,” Craig tells the prince. “We’ve had five of these made. This is carbon fiber.”

A tiny bit of plot: Ralph Fiennes, who plays M for the third time, talked to the prince about a scene filmed earlier in the day at the M office set.

“So what have you been doing today?” Charles asked.

“We’ve been giving him a hard time,” Fiennes responded.

“Oh really? Again?”

“Again, yeah. And he’s been giving me a hard time.”

“But I thought he was meant to be in retirement or something,” Charles replies.

Daniel Craig interjects at this point. “That’s right. But something drags me back in.”

“What the dreaded Felix Leiter?” the prince asks.

“Felix and the plot,” Craig answers.

Bond 25’s progress: Prince Charles asks if filming is about half complete. Craig answers that it’s about a third done.

Ralph Fiennes’ schedule: The actor tells the prince he works sporadically on Bond 25, mixing it with other acting commitments and an upcoming holiday. “I come in and out..My scenes are scheduled in bits.”

“He’s very busy, you see,” Craig tells Charles. “We’re very lucky to have him.”

After this, Prince Charles was taken to view some of the day’s footage of Craig in M’s office. It’s shown on video screens. He listens, holding up a headset to his right ear.

The video is below.

Aston Martin confirms B25 lineup; Prince Charles visits

Publicity still for Aston Martin Valhalla

Aston Martin announced on Twitter that three of its cars, including the new Valhalla supercar, will be in Bond 25.

Aston Martin DB5, Aston Martin V8 and Aston Martin Valhalla will star in Bond 25, the latest instalment in the @007 franchise,” the company said in a post on Twitter.

The post confirmed a story earlier this week at This Is Money, part of the Daily Mail, that the cars would be in the film. Andy Palmer, the CEO of Aston Martin, had retweeted a Twitter post from Ray Massey who had written the This Is Money story. 

The DB5 isn’t much of a surprise. James Bond and Madeline Swann drove off in the DB5 at the end of SPECTRE. The 1980s vintage V8 had been spotted during filming in Norway.

However, in March, the Sun tabloid reported that the Aston Martin Raptide E electric car would be in the movie. That story was picked up widely by other outlets.

Instead, the film is getting the Valhalla. It was described in an Aston Martin press release this week as being “propelled by a combination of high-efficiency, high-output turbocharged V6 petrol engine and battery-electric hybrid system.”

For the announcement, Aston Martin had a photo of Prince Charles and 007 actor Daniel Craig. The latter is no longer wearing a cast after suffering an injury earlier during Bond 25 filming.

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UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): The Daily Mail had a ringside seat and produced a story about Prince Charles’s visit to Pinewood Studios to meet the Bond 25 cast and director Cary Fukunaga.

UPDATE II (1:55 p.m. New York time): The Royal Family Channel posts a video of the visit of Prince Charles to Pinewood

Eon seeks to regain the B25 narrative with Craig photo

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

The official 007 Twitter account of Eon Productions today posted a photograph of Daniel Craig working out at the gym of Pinewood Studios.

“#007 Daniel Craig hitting the gym hard, prepping for shooting next week!” according to the caption that accompanied the photo.

When last seen out in public, the 51-year-old actor was on crutches and his left foot in a cast while at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He had previously underwent surgery for an ankle injury suffered during Bond 25’s shoot in Jamaica.

It’s not much of a stretch to view the tweet (and new photo of Craig in the gym) as Eon trying to regain control of the Bond 25 narrative. The only sign of the actor’s injury is the cast he’s still wearing.

Besides Craig’s injury, a June 4 explosion damaged the 007 Stage, causing one minor injury. Both incidents have generated bad publicity for the film, with British tabloids, led by the Sun, generating multiple stories.

Also, this week, director Cary Fukunaga posted a photo on Instagram of a crew member with an over-sized clapperboard. The Eon 007 Twitter account also sent that out. The message: Production continues despite the problems.

Here’s the new Tweet from Eon:

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B25 director reminds everyone film is still underway

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

Director Cary Fukunaga took to Instagram to remind everyone that Bond 25 still is underway despite an injury to its star and a June 4 explosion that damaged the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios.

The director posted a photograph of a crew member (“A cam 1st Jorge Sanchez”) holding up an over-sized clapperboard representing how a scene was to be filmed in Imax.

The production hadn’t said much since the June 4 explosion, which resulted in a minor injury to a crew member outside the 007 Stage.

Since then, the Sun tabloid in the U.K, has had various stories, including a June 9 article saying star Daniel Craig won’t be able to film scenes together with actor Rami Malek because of Malek’s schedule and Craig’s recovery time from ankle surgery.

A number of outlets also ran photos of Craig on crutches and his left foot in a “boot” while at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As a result, Fukunaga’s Instagram photo will likely catch attention. The official Eon Production James Bond Twitter account also ran the director’s photo.

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Bond 25 questions: The British tabloids edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

It has been about six weeks since principal photography on Bond 25 began. Of all the media outlets out there, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun seems to be driving the media conversation.

Six months ago, even three months ago, that didn’t appear to be the case. With that in mind, here are some questions from the blog.

The Sun? Really? 

During pre-production and production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, the Daily Mail, via Baz Bamigboye, was the go-to tabloid.

Yes, Bamigboye’s stories had the smell of clickbait. But many of his stories were confirmed. Examples: Albert Finney was part of Skyfall’s cast. Yes, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to rewrite SPECTRE. Yes, Purvis and Wade were hired to start the Bond 25 scripting process.

As a result, over time, Bamigboye had to be taken seriously even if the Daily Mail had a well-deserved reputation for bad journalism.

But, for some reason, The Sun has been driving much of the Bond 25 storyline. The Sun came out with a story about the June 4 explosion at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. That spurred Eon Productions to quickly get out a statement.

The Sun’s latest story came out June 9. The Murdoch tabloid declared actor Rami Malek “has other filming commitments which will have started by the time” Daniel Craig is ready to resume filming following an injury.

With the tabloids, caution always is called for. Still, The Sun and its scribes have been more active than Bamigboye.

Here’s an excerpt from the newest story from The Sun. Caveat Emptor.

A Bond insider said: “Filming was supposed to finish in September but the cast and crew have been told it’s been pushed back to late October, possible early November due to Daniel’s injury and the set explosion.

“But they still need to find a time for Daniel and Rami to film together.”

How serious should a Bond fan take The Sun? 

Take it with a lot of caution.

The Sun has been out of the gate in declaring Bond 25 “cursed.” In its most recent story, The Sun amped things up by calling Bond 25 “doomed.”

Whoa! That’s way, way too strong a term. Even if you think The Sun has good sources, that’s overplaying your hand.

What’s more, tabloids are famous for taking shortcuts (to put it mildly).

What happens now?

Take it easy. Don’t assume things are doomed or cursed. (A curse is a man-made construct to explain various events.)

At the same time, keep an eye on how things are going. Film productions experience setbacks. Some turn out well (Jaws). Some not so much (Heaven’s Gate). Regardless, there’s no point in jumping to conclusions.

MGM executive affirms Bond 25 is Craig’s final 007 outing

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive last month affirmed that Bond 25 will be Daniel Craig’s finale as James Bond.

“Daniel Craig, of course, will star in his final turn as 007 under the direction of Cary Fukunaga,,” Christopher Brearton, chief operating officer of the studio, said in prepared remarks for shareholders. The conference call took place in early May when MGM reported first-quarter financial results.

That’s not an especially remarkable statement. In August 2017, Craig announced on Late Night With Stephen Colbert he was returning for Bond 25. The host asked him if he might do more Bonds.

“I think this is it,” Craig said. “I want to go out on a high note.”

Of course, there have been occasional tabloid stories suggesting otherwise. The Sun, in a January 2019 story, and The Express in an April 2019 article each said Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli hasn’t given up on the idea of getting Craig back for Bond 26.

Meanwhile, Brearton didn’t have much else to say about Bond 25 on the May call.

“In film, we announced the kickoff of production of the 25th instalment of the Bond franchise, unveiling the storyline and a terrific cast, including Rami Malek, fresh off his Academy Award-winning turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody as a mysterious new villain,” the executive said.

“We are very excited to be getting production underway and you will be hearing more from us in the coming months.”