Bond 25 pre-announcement accuracy scorecard

A reader of the blog, @EiriniMakr on Twitter, suggested a post about inaccurate things published about Bond 25.

Well, we’ll go one step further. What follows is a look at major examples of what panned out, what didn’t and what was muddy.

DEFINITELY RIGHT

Craig was coming back: The Page Six gossip operation of the New York Post said Feb. 22, 2017 that Daniel Craig was indeed coming back to play 007 in Bond 25. It had another item to that effect on April 3, 2017. The New York Times has its own story about Craig’s return on July 24, 2017.

All of these were published before Craig announced in mid-August 2017 that he was returning (2:06 mark).

Purvis & Wade were (initially) hired to write Bond 25: Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported on March 9, 2017 that six-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had been hired to write Bond 25. This was confirmed in a July 24, 2017 announcement that the movie would have a November 2019 release date in the United States.

Danny Boyle would direct Bond 25: Variety reports Feb. 20 that Boyle was in contention to direct Bond 25. Deadline: Hollywood comes back Feb. 21 with a story that Boyle’s participation depends on whether an idea he has developed with writer John Hodge (and that Hodge is writing as a script) is accepted.

On May 25, it was announced Boyle is directing from a script by Hodge.

DEFINITELY WRONG

The Daily Mail says May 18, 2016 that Daniel Craig turned down an offer of 68 million British pounds to play Bond in two more films. Problem: Craig says in a public appearance in New York in October 2016 that there are “no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Also, Craig ended up coming back.

Radar Online says Sept. 3, 2016 that Sony Pictures was offering Daniel Craig $150 million to do two more James Bond film. Problem: Sony’s involvement as a Bond film distributor ended with 2015’s SPECTRE. The Bond 25 distribution wouldn’t be settled until last month and Sony wasn’t part of it.

The Mirror says July 29, 2017 that Bond 25 will be based on a 007 continuation novel by Raymond Benson titled Never Dream of Dying. Problem: Benson says on social media that he was never contacted by the Mirror and that he can only assume the story was a fabrication. Also, Eon Productions has been notoriously adverse to using Bond continuation novels as the basis of its films. A sequence from Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun was adapted for SPECTRE but you have to dig deep into the end titles to find acknowledgment of it.

Archivo 007, a fan website, says Dec. 2, 2017 Christopher Nolan is “more than likely” to direct  Bond 25. Problem: Didn’t happen. Nolan said in a BBC interview in February he wasn’t going to direct the film.

The Sun says April 26 that filming on Bond 25 “has been put back to later next year” because Daniel Craig’s wife, actress Rachel Weisz, is pregnant. ProblemThe May 25 official announcement about Boyle, Hodge, et. al., specifies that Bond 25 is to begin production Dec. 3.

MUDDY

This section involves stories that are plausible but aren’t likely to be confirmed definitively

Deadline: Hollywood says on July 26, 2017 that  Denis Villeneuve, Yann Demange and David Mackenzie are the “frontrunners” to direct Bond 25. Variety says the same day that Demange is the leading contender. (Variety also said Daniel Craig was likely to return.)

Some Bond fans were extremely enthusiastic about Villeneuve. And the director said in a November podcast that, ” “I had some contact” regarding Bond 25. But Villeneuve said he was is working on a new version of Dune and that was that.

So taking Villeneuve at this word, one of those three directors had been contacted about directing Bond 25. Were Demange and Mackenzie also under consideration? No way to know at this point.

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What we think (hope?) will happen with Bond 25 in 2018

Happy 2018! After the “lost year” (2016) and the year of mostly looking backward (2017),  we’re in a year where the James Bond film franchise should advance forward.

With that in mind, a look at what we think (perhaps hope) will finally be settled about Bond 25.

Resolve the distribution/financing: This is practically the only 007-related site that even brings this up. Some have accused the blog of sounding like a broken record. Maybe so. But once more with feeling:

–You can’t get a movie into theaters without someone to get it theaters.

–Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, is taking steps to become a “big boy” studio capable of releasing films. But it’s not there yet. (MGM formed a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures to release each other’s movies but, for now, Bond 25 is not part of that deal.)

–Moreover, Sony, which distributed Skyfall and SPECTRE, also supplied half of the production budget for each of those movies.

–Unless, MGM is willing to go all in to pay the bills (which it has not indicated yet), Bond 25 financing won’t be settled until the distributor issue is settled.

–Until the financing is settled, nobody is going to get paid for working on the movie.

Select a director: You can’t film a movie without a director. MGM and Eon have announced a Bond 25 release date (November 2019 in the United States) but haven’t gotten around to naming a director.

Denis Villeneuve (who in an interview with Screen Crush said yet again he’s working on a new version of Dune and can’t work on Bond 25) ? Yann Demange? David Mackenzie? Somebody else?

At this point, Eon Productions has had months and months to decide. To make that November 2019 release date it announced, Eon needs to move relatively soon.

Cast the movie: Bond 23 (later titled Skyfall) was officially announced in January 2011. Over the next several months, there were stories about casting of the movie that pretty much turned out to be correct (Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, among others).

Again, if all parties are serious about that Noveber 2019 release date for Bond 25, you would expect to hear possible casting stories in the next six months or so.

Begin production: Skyfall started principal photography in November 2011 for a fall 2012 release. SPECTRE began filming Dec. 8, 2014 for a fall 2015 release.

Once more, if everyone is serious about the announced November 2019 release date, it would seem production would be underway by the end of 2018.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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.

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?”