Bond 25: The post Villeneuve (?) edition

Denis Villeneuve

This week, director Denis Villeneuve spoke — and 007 fans have been chewing over his words. With that in mind, it’s time to mull over some more questions.

Is Villeneuve really out of the picture?

If you believe the Den of Geek website, he’s outta here! Headline: “James Bond 25: Denis Villeneuve Turns Down Directing.” He’s off working on a new version of Dune.

However, Den of Geek didn’t do its own reporting. It analyzed Villeneuve comments from the 4 Quadrant podcast.

The blog listened to that podcast. It’s clear Villeneuve loves Dune. But he also said of Dune, “Right now, I don’t know if the movie will be made.”

Is that significant? Well, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli waited plenty long for star Daniel Craig to decide whether he wanted to come back to play 007 for a fifth time.

Craig, according to Daily Mail scribe Baz Bamigboye (who has a history of 007 scoops proven correct), is “rooting for” Villeneuve to direct Bond 25.

Given how Broccoli has given her star plenty of time to decide whether to come back or not, is it a big stretch to indulge his taste in directors — at least for a while longer? At least long enough to see whether Dune will be made?

Not really.

Remember, this quote. “Daniel Craig is Bond, forever, as far as I’m concerned,” Broccoli told the Huffington Post in 2015.

But there’s a release date! They can’t wait forever, can they? No, but Bond 25 hasn’t exactly reeked of urgency. Meanwhile, release dates can be changed. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had three release dates.

And (and long-time readers knew this was coming) Bond 25 doesn’t have a distributor yet. That November 2019 date is written in sand until there’s a distributor.

This is NOT a prediction. However, is it unreasonable to think Broccoli and Craig (who had a co-producer credit in SPECTRE) might wait a while longer to see if they could snare Villeneuve?

Not unreasonable at all. We’ll see.

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Villeneuve says he’s working on Dune’s script

Denis Villeneuve

Director Denis Villeneuve said on The 4 Quadrant podcast that he’s currently working on the script for a new version of Dune.

“It’s my turn to work on the pages right now,” Villeneuve said.

The director said he’s gotten pages from screenwriter Eric Roth and he’s examining them.

“It’s very exciting. I’m diving into that universe that I love so much,” Villeneuve said on the podcast. “It’s tough. Right now, I don’t know if the movie will be made….But I’m very positive. I’m very excited with” the pages Roth produced.

Villeneuve is a fan favorite to direct Bond 25, a project still without an announced director. Bond star Daniel Craig is “rooting for” Villeneuve to direct the film, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye said in September. Bamigboye has had a number of Bond-related scoops proven correct.

During the podcast, Villeneuve was asked about Bond 25.

“Daniel Craig is a very inspiring actor,” the director replied. “I had some contact. The thing is I’m busy right now doing Dune. To have the privledge to work with him would be a dream. I would love to work with Daniel.”

Villeneuve said working on a 007 film would be “a treat. It’s a matter of timing, I guess.”

Much of the podcast deals with Villeneuve’s most recent film, Blade Runner 2049. You can CLICK HERE to listen.

UPDATE (7 p.m. New York time): Brian Herbert, son of Dune author Frank Herbert, said on Twitter that Eric Roth delivered a first draft script.

 

Here’s why the Bond 25 distributor is a legitimate question

On Twitter, the blog got some push back about continuing to ask about what’s going on with Bond 25’s distributor.

“I think you need to chill about the distributor,” a Bond fan wrote on Twitter. “It’s going to happen don’t you think.”

Here’s why asking about the Bond 25 distributor is a legitimate question.

–The distributor will likely supply a good chunk of the production budget: Sony Pictures (via its Columbia Pictures brand) co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE while only getting 25 percent of the profits.

Because of the Sony hacks of 2014, it’s known that Sony only had a modest profit from Skyfall. Despite doing almost as well as Skyfall, Sony’s take was even less from SPECTRE. The various studios trying to cut a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Bond 25 know this.

–It has been almost three months since MGM and Eon Productions announced a November 2019 release date for Bond 25: That’d be fine except neither MGM nor Eon actually is in the business of releasing movies. Eon never has distributed films. MGM hasn’t since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010.

Essentially, two parties who don’t release movies said there was a release date.

OK, the 007 film series is established and this may not be a big deal. However…

–Until the distributor is established, Bond 25’s budget won’t be either: It remains to be seen whether Bond 25’s distribution deal is the same as Skyfall and SPECTRE. But it seems pretty evident the Bond 25 distributor will be providing some of the cash to make the movie.

It’s fun speculating whether Denis Villeneuve will be Bond 25’s director, whether director of photography Roger Deakins will return, etc., etc. But until the budget is nailed down, things can only go so far.

Just to be clear, the blog isn’t pushing the panic button. There isn’t information available to push the panic button.

At the same time, legitimate questions ought not to be shooed away simply because they’re inconvenient. Bond 25 has been handled almost from the start in a very peculiar way. The fog isn’t clearing yet.

Some thoughts about Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 poster

A lot of James Bond fans really, really want Denis Villeneuve to direct Bond 25. Also, The Guardian ran a story this week practically begging the guy to helm Bond 25.

The blog decided to check out Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve’s newest effort. So here are some general reactions.

The film looks gorgeous. The movie has one memorable image after another. It was photographed by Roger Deakins, who performed the same job on Skyfall.

The pace is a bit slow. Consider this the anti-Bourne, anti-Quantum of Solace, the anti-John Wick.

That, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. In a way it’s reassuring to see a movie that doesn’t travel at a frenetic pace.

However, at times, Blade Runner 2049 seems to linger for a long time on its imagery. Then, after awhile, the movie remembers it needs to move the story along. So we get a scene or two that does that. Then, we go into another period of lingering on the images. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The score gets a little repetitive after awhile. There’s this recurring “BRRRRRRRUUUNNNNNG!” bit throughout the film that gave me a headache.

One positive: You don’t need to see the original film. I never saw the original Blade Runner in 1982. There’s a bit of text at the start that gives newbies enough they can figure things out.

The movie (for me) had more positives than negatives. But it was very long and at times had me checking my watch.

Blade Runner 2049 probably won’t change anybody’s mind about Villeneuve and Bond 25. Those who have advocated for him will feel it reinforces their opinion.

About that lack of a Bond 25 distributor

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Some James Bond fans were sure — just sure — that Global James Bond Day would include a significant announcement about Bond 25.

But, like Linus in the Peanuts comic strip looking forward to seeing the Great Pumpkin, those 007 fans were disappointed. The only Global James Bond Day announcement was a one-day sale of 007 T-shirts at 10 percent off.

Denis Villeneuve being announced as Bond 25’s director? Didn’t happen.

Announcement of Bond 25’s distributor? Didn’t happen.

Until that distributor issue is resolved, Bond 25 can only proceed so far. Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in July announced a U.S. release date of November 2019. But neither has a global distribution operation. MGM needs to cut a deal with somebody who has that capability.

Are such entities interested? Of course. But that distributor likely is going to have to supply a lot of the financing. Sony provided half of the production costs of Skyfall and SPECTRE, but only got 25 percent of the profits. Sony only got a small profit for Skyfall and who knows if it got anything for SPECTRE between higher production outlays and a bit less at the box office.

There was one other bit of Bond-related news on Global James Bond Day 2017. MGM extended the contract for CEO Gary Barber to 2022, according to the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website.

Barber has been gradually improving MGM’s business. But the studio’s biggest asset still remains Agent 007.

As the Twitter feed for the MI6 James Bond website asked, “How about getting on that Bond 25 distribution deal now, Gary?”

What critics are saying about Villeneuve

Blade Runner 2049 poster

Denis Villeneuve, a potential Bond 25 director, is getting a lot of attention in reviews for Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Blade Runner that he helmed.

007 fans are playing a game of “will he or won’t he” regarding Villeneuve, He’s acknowledged being in talks about the next James Bond film while also having other projects on his plate. The Blade Runner 2049 reviews may further boost the interest of Bond fans in Villeneuve.

Blade Runner 2049 currently has a 94 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website that collects reviews.

With that in mind, here are non-spoiler excerpts (focused on Villeneuve) from some reviews.

CHRIS KLIMEK, NPR: “I’m severely restrained in my ability to tell you very much, as the publicity team read to the critics at the screening I attended an appeal from Villeneuve: an exhaustive list of specific characters and plot developments he has kindly asked that we not discuss. I’m complying because he has made a superb movie, one that really is stocked with revelations and counterrevelations worth preserving intact.”

A.O. SCOTT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Like any great movie, Mr. (Ridley) Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ cannot be spoiled. It repays repeated viewing because its mysteries are too deep to be solved and don’t depend on the sequence of events. Mr. Villeneuve’s film, by contrast, is a carefully engineered narrative puzzle, and its power dissipates as the pieces snap into place. As sumptuous and surprising as it is from one scene to the next, it lacks the creative excess, the intriguing opacity and the haunting residue of its predecessor.”

MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: “‘Blade Runner 2049,’ the superb new sequel by Denis Villeneuve (‘Arrival’), doesn’t just honor that (Blade Runner) legacy, but, arguably, surpasses it, with a smart, grimly lyrical script (by [Hampton] Fancher and Michael Green of the top-notch ‘Logan’); bleakly beautiful cinematography (by Roger Deakins); and an even deeper dive into questions of the soul.”

DAVID JENKINS, LITTLE WHITE LIES: “What Villeneuve had presumed in his lightly passive-aggressive memo (asking critics to not include spoilers) is that there would be material in his film that viewers would possess a natural urge to spoil. And yet, to these eyes, there was nothing. This film is little more than a bauble: shiny, hollow and shatters under the slightest pressure. Maybe it’ll be good news for the spoilerphobic among us, but there is little in the film that is actually worth spoiling – at least not without reams of fiddly context and turgid backstory.”

DANA STEVENS, SLATE: “Denis Villeneuve, who made Arrival, Sicario, and Enemy, is a director who enjoys not-fully-solved enigmas, and 2049’s twisty, misdirection-filled story alternates between suspenseful and tediously murky. But Villeneuve is working with the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose mobile yet stately camera provides stunning bird’s-eye perspectives on the bleak urban habitat where these humans and replicants live.”

Blade Runner 2049 may draw eye of 007 fans

Blade Runner 2049 poster

Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner, may get some extra attention when it opens early next month.

The source of that extra attention may be from James Bond film fans wanting to check out the work of director Denis Villeneuve.

Villeneuve, of course, has been mentioned as a contender to direct Bond 25. Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, last week reported that 007 star Daniel Craig “is rooting” for Villeneuve to helm Bond 25.

Bamigboye has a track record of Bond scoops being proven correct. As a result, a number of entertainment websites, including Screen Rant , Den of Geek  and IndieWire jumped on the story. So did British publications such as The Telegraph. Naturally, it has also been discussed among Bond fans.

Whether Villeneuve gets the job remains uncertain at the moment. He is slated to direct a new version of Dune, but schedules have been known to change. Craig himself was scheduled to star in Purity, a limited series for pay channel Showtime, but that project apparently got delayed while Craig pursued Bond 25.

Regardless, the Blake 2049 crew includes people with Bond experience. The production designer is Dennis Gassner, who’s held the same job the past three 007 films, taking over from Peter Lamont. And the director of photography is Roger Deakins, who photographed Skyfall.

Deakins is well thought of by his peers and has been frequently nominated for Oscars (including for Skyfall) while not winning.

UPDATE (7:25 p.m. New York time): The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website today reported that Villeneuve is in the running to direct a new version of Cleopatra for Sony.

UPDATE (8:35 a.m., Sept. 30): Villeneuve, while promoting Blade Runner 2049, told The Montreal Gazette that he has been in talks about Bond 25.

“It’s true — I’ve been in discussions with (producer) Barbara Broccoli and (actor) Daniel Craig,” Villeneuve told the newspaper. “It’s a magnificent project; I would love to do a James Bond, but I don’t know how it would fit with my current projects. We’ll have to see.”