No Time to Die: An eventful week

No Time to Die poster

This week had to be one of the most eventful weeks related to No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film.

The premiere of a 45-minute documentary. The return of an official No Time to Die podcast series. The leader of Eon Productions making an over-the-top boast. The first tickets going on sale.

After five delays (two because of a change of director, three because of COVID-19), the die seems to be cast. Daniel Craig’s finale as James Bond, wrapping up more than 15 years as the incumbent cinematic Bond, is on the horizon.

Here are some highlights:

–Being James Bond, the documentary about Craig’s tenure as Bond, debuted on Apple TV. Many fans got emotional, going to social media to express how they felt.

I read a lot of these testimonials. They were honest and sincere. And it’s not hard to figure out why. Craig was first cast in 2005. For people younger than 35, Daniel Craig is the Bond they know best. Even if you’re not a fan of Craig/Bond, you have to respect something like that.

–The official No Time to Die podcast returned after a hiatus of almost a year. The podcast began in September 2020 but abruptly shut down after another COVID-related delayed.

The first episode was an expanded version of one that first went out a year ago. The revised episode began with a discussion with Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson.

Broccoli didn’t undersell the (not so) new Bond film. No Time to Die, she said, “is a cinematic masterpiece.”

The movie world is full of hype. But “cinematic masterpiece” are loaded words. Broccoli is doubling, tripling (or more) down. She clearly has an attachment to Daniel Craig that goes beyond the normal movie hype.

–Today, Friday, Sept. 10, was a rush for those in the U.K. who sought tickets for the Sept. 28 premiere at Royal Albert Hall. Social media saw testimonials from those who attempted and the few who got tickets.

It wasn’t perfect. For example, the coordination between No Time to Die social media didn’t mesh with a new U.S. NTTD spot that debuted late on Sept. 9.

Still, it was a big week for Bond fans.

Being James Bond documentary debuts

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

No trailers either about the documentary or No Time to Die.

The Being James Bond documentary about Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond debuted on Sept. 7 on Apple TV.

This post isn’t a review. It’s the most basic description of the 45-minute program.

The format is pretty simple. The audio consists of Craig chatting with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions while film clips and behind-the-scenes footage of the actor’s Bond movies are shown.

There are a few tidbits mentioned. Broccoli and Wilson discuss Quantum of Solace’s scripting process. “Filming without a script is never a good idea,” Broccoli says. “I look back at the movie and it’s still a good movie.”

The closes thing there is a spoiler to No Time to Die is a 19-second clip of what was apparently Craig’s last scene as Bond.

Craig/Bond fans will love it. Craig/Bond detractors won’t like it. So it goes.

Being James Bond is scheduled to be shown on Apple TV through Oct. 7.

NTTD’s final U.S. trailer emphasizes Craig-era saga

No Time to Die’s final U.S. trailer debuted today, with an emphasis of the movie being part of a bigger saga featuring star Daniel Craig.

The trailer includes scenes and lines from some of Craig’s previous Bond films, including black-and-white scenes from Casino Royale (2006) where Bond got the kills needed to become a 00-agent.

Taglines in the trailer include: “And Every Mission…Every Sacrifice…Has Led Him…To This.” Later in the trailer, No Time to Die is referred to as “The Epic Conclusion.”

The trailer also has a bit more, but not a lot, about the plot by villain Safin (Rami Malek). Craig’s Bond says something about how “the people become the weapon.” Safin himself says, “Life is all about leaving something behind, isn’t it?”

Multiple YouTube outlets distributed the trailer. This is the YouTube video posted by We Got This Covered. The trailer was also posted at the Eon Productions James Bond YouTube channel.

Separately, the official Twitter feed of Eon Productions said a documentary about Craig’s Tenure as Bond, Being James Bond, will be on Apple TV on Sept. 7.

UPDATE (11:42 a.m. New York time): Universal put out the final international trailer.

Harris reinforces her status as Bond film ambassador

Naomie Harris introduces the Lego Aston Martin DB5 in 2018

Namomie Harris, yet again, has reinforced her status as the ambassador for the James Bond film franchise.

For years, that status belonged to Roger Moore, who played Bond in seven movies from 1973 to 1985. Long after that, he appeared on TV specials and in other appearances on behalf of the franchise.

Since Moore’s death, Harris — who made her Bond film debut in 2012’s Skyfall — has done the heavy lifting in Bond promotion. In 2019, she was at a promotional event in Jamaica for No Time to Die despite how none of her scenes in the movie were filmed there. She has also shown up to promote things such as a Lego Aston Martin DB5.

All of that may seem strange. Harris is a supporting player. Since 2005, when he was first cast as Bond, Daniel Craig has been the star. But, let’s face it, promotion isn’t Craig’s strong point. One reason why Roger Moore reached people was his enthusiasm for the part — even after his departure — was evident.

Of those involved with the franchise, only Naomie Harris currently has a similar stature.

The official Eon Productions James Bond feed on Twitter featured a video of Harris today. You can see it below.

NTTD footage shown at CinemaCon

One of the many No Time to Die posters

Some No Time to Die Footage was shown at CinemaCon, a gathering for theater owners.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hasn’t been at CinemaCon for 20 years, according to Deadline: Hollywood.. Another entertainment site, The Wrap, had a more detailed description of the No Time to Die footage shown. (Avoid if you don’t like spoilers.). Most of this describes footage seen in previous trailers.

In the footage, Daniel Craig’s Bond wakes up on top of a building, disoriented, and the sound is muffled. Calling someone on the phone seems fruitless, so Bond begins to run through the city only to be on the receiving end of gunfire from Spectre agents. He ropes himself off the side of a bridge to escape, but he soon runs into the people chasing him. A fight ensues in typical Bond fashion.

Next, we see Bond with Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann, and Bond asks her how Spectre knew he was in the city. He thinks she betrayed her, and there’s nothing she can say to persuade him otherwise. The two get into a beautiful vintage Aston Martin that Bond fans will recognize as the DB5 from “Goldfinger,” with all of Q’s weapons included. However, it unfortunately gets completely destroyed by gunfire in the middle of a town square by the Spectre agents..

Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, last week confirmed No Time to Die’s world premiere will be Sept. 28. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to debut Sept. 30 in the U.K. and other countries and Oct 8 in the U.S.

A review of No Time to Die’s scripting process

Dramatic re-enactment.

Earlier today, I was reminded by @_SpringY84 that Aug. 21 is a notable anniversary in the development of Bond 25/No Time to Die.

A brief discussion broke out how all this came to be. In turn, that got me to thinking how the scripting developed. So here’s a quick review.

As far back as March 2017, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported veteran Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were being hired for Bond 25. The duo’s return was confirmed July 24, 2017 in announcements by Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer stating Bond 25 would have a U.S. release date of Nov. 8, 2019.

Those announcements have since been stripped from the websites of Eon and MGM. In any event, the involvement of Purvis and Wade was made official before the return of star Daniel Craig. The latter wouldn’t take place until mid-August 2017.

In December 2017, Purvis and Wade were still on the project. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli told a Hollywood Reporter podcast that the writers were “busy working away, trying to come up with something fantastic.”

Well, apparently it wasn’t that fantastic.

By early 2018, Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge put their hands up, saying they had some great ideas for Bond 25. Evidently, it was a great pitch because Hodge was commissioned to turn it into a script. If that script got approval, that would be the new path ahead for Bond 25.

Boyle (vaguely) commented about the process in March 2018.

Apparently, the script was OK with Eon in the spring of 2018. A May 25, 2018, announcement about the movie includes Boyle as director and Hodge as screenwriter. No mention of Purvis and Wade.

As noted at the start of this post, such bliss didn’t last. By Aug. 21, it was so long Danny and John, welcome back Neal and Robert. The writers would soon work with a new director, Cary Fukunaga.

Here’s how the process was described by an article in Total Film.

Boyle’s script, written by Trainspotting’s John Hodge (which contained “some extraordinary ideas, they just needed a little pulling together,” according to production designer Mark Tildesley) was scrapped, with Purvis and Wade brought in to pick up where they left off a year prior. “Effectively, we went back to what we’d done,” says Purvis. “And then we changed things with Cary over several months in the attic at Eon.” As well as being the first American, Fukunaga is the first director to have a writing credit on a finished Bond film. “He’s fresh to it,” Wade says of Fukunaga. “He’s open to doing things differently, and wanted to push the boundaries as much as he could. This film feels quite different to the last one, even though it’s got elements that connect it.”

Things weren’t quite that simple. The release date would be pushed back into 2020 with Fukunaga coming onboard. COVID-19 would push the release into 2021.

Meanwhile, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (with Daniel Craig taking credit for recruiting her) and Scott Z. Burns did rewrites at the word processor. Burns’ arrival was initially hyped by The Playlist in February 2019. Rodrigo Perez of The Playist said Burns was doing “an overhaul and I won’t be surprised if Burns is ultimately given first screenplay credit.”

As it turned out, Burns received no writing credit on No Time to Die. Savior one day, forgotten man the next day.

All this time later, we don’t know what spectacular ideas Boyle and Hodge came up with to spur Eon to ditch a script in the work for months. The ones who do know have probably signed non-disclosure agreements.

Regardless, today’s anniversary calls to mind a rather involved process. Let’s hope No Time to Die’s final script is as involved as the work performed to create it.

Eon says (again) it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon in November 2011

Eon Productions has said, yet again, it’s not interested in James Bond spinoffs such as streaming TV versions of 007-related characters.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the half-siblings atop Eon, spoke to Total Film (it’s not clear this is from a previous Total Film interview or a new one), which was posted online by Games Radar.

“We make films. We make films for the cinema. That’s what we do,” Broccoli, 61 and the daughter of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, told Total Film.

 “We’ve resisted that call for 60 years,” added Wilson, 79 and stepson of Albert R. Broccoli.

Amazon, which airs original streaming programming, has agreed to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, in a deal valued at $8.45 billion. The acquisition is pending, subject to regulatory review, including an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Wilson has been involved full-time in the Bond franchise since 1972. Barbara Broccoli has been active full-time since 1982. Both had Bond-related activities (Wilson as a Goldfinger extra, Barbara Broccoli writing captions for publicity stills for The Spy Who Loved Me) before their full-time involvement.

It also doesn’t appear the Eon leaders have thought that much about Bond 26.

“It’s tough to think about the future until this film has its moment,” Barbara Broccoli told Total Film. “I think we just really want to celebrate this (No Time to Die) and celebrate Daniel, and then when the dust settles, then look at the landscape and figure out what the future is.” No Time to Die is the fifth and final Bond movie for star Daniel Craig.

No Time to Die’s world premiere is scheduled for Sept. 28 and its U.K. release on Sept. 30. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to debut in the U.S. on Oct. 8.

UPDATE: Jack Lugo of James Bond Radio reminds me that Eon was deeply involved with the syndicated James Bond Jr. cartoon show of the early 1990s. The title character was James Bond’s nephew. Michael G. Wilson shared a “developed by” credit on that cartoon series.

UPDATE II: Here’s a screen shot from the end titles of the first episode of James Bond Jr.

Ticket site says NTTD’s premiere is Sept. 28

No Time to Die U.S. poster

h/t to James Bond Club Deutschland, which posted a link and screen grab on Facebook.

The Sincura Group, whose businesses include a company which acquires event tickets and resells them, says on its tickets website that No Time to Die’s world premiere will be Sept. 28 at Royal Albert Hall in London.

The item had this additional information:

Postponed – released in cinemas on the 30th September 2021; premiere now confirmed for 28th September 2021 – with the afterparty at the Natural History Museum.
VISIT OUR APP for the latest updates as they happen.

The item carried a piece of promotional art from SPECTRE with Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux. Seydoux is in No Time to Die reprising the role of Dr. Madeline Swann.

The question is whether this really is locked in or not. No Time to Die has been postponed five times previously, three times because of COVID-19.

UPDATE: This has been circulating for a bit. See the tweet below.

Bond 21-25 questions: Assessing the Craig era edition

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

The Daniel Craig era of the James Bond films is drawing to a close. A thoughtful reader drew my attention to an August 2020 article by the Screen Rant site assessing Craig’s tenure.

Still, until No Time to Die comes out, there’s only so far you can go. Or is that correct? Naturally, the blog has questions.

Was the Craig era really that different? Absolutely.

Ian Fleming’s Bond novels referenced how his creation had relationships with married women. In the Eon film series, M lists “jealous husbands” as a possibility for hiring $1 million-a-hit-assassin Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun. But 2006’s Casino Royale was more explicit.

Anything else? The tone often was more violent, in particular a killing Bond performs early in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Quantum also had a more political point of view courtesy of director Marc Forster.

Did the Craig era follow earlier Bond films in any way? Yes. The Craig films, like earlier Eon Bond entries, adapted to popular trends in cinema.

In the 1970s, Bond films followed blaxploitation movies (Live And Let Die), kung fu (The Man With the Golden Gun) and science fiction (Moonraker).

In the 21st century Craig movies, the series followed Jason Bourne films (Quantum, including hiring a Bourne second unit director), Christopher Nolan Batman movies (Skyfall) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (SPECTRE, moving to tie all of the Craig adventures together).

Anything else? Some Bond fans argue Craig is the best film James Bond. No Time to Die (apparently) is the final chapter. No doubt there will be more debate once No Time to Die can be viewed.

Bond 25 questions: The FOE edition

One of Many No Time to Die posters

No Time to Die finished production in the fall of 2019. But the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions still isn’t out. The blog has a few questions.

What is FOE? It stands for Friends of Eon. It refers to those who, essentially, say that Eon Productions, the makers of Bond films, can do no wrong.

What does this have to do with No Time to Die? Some James Bond fans suspect star Daniel Craig, the incumbent film Bond first cast in the fall of 2005, and Eon wanted to take a break, which has contributed to long hiatus between SPECTRE (2015) and the present.

So? Well, a recent article from Total Film suggests there’s something to this.

An example from Total Film:

Craig “was so exhausted after” 2015’s SPECTRE “recalls Barbara Broccoli, daughter of Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli who, alongside her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, runs Eon Productions, and has produced every Bond film since 1995’s GoldenEye. “We’d had our own trials and tribulations on Spectre, and [Daniel] had a massive injury. It was very difficult. So he just needed some time.” While Craig was taking his break, Eon worked on movies such as The Rhythm Section (2020).

Members of FOE over the past several years, chided Bond fans who had reached similar conclusions. (A comment along these lines would begin: “People like you…”)

Yet, if Broccoli’s comments in the Total Film article can be taken at face value, those conclusions were on target. At least, they weren’t off target.

Shouldn’t bygones be bygones? That’s not how members of FOE looked at it once upon a time.

What are you suggesting? Nothing dramatic. Let’s see what No Time to Die actually looks like when it comes out. At the same time, perhaps members of FOE shouldn’t assume a special expertise. Hopefully in fewer than 70 days Bond fans will have a chance to view the new Bond film.