Bond 25 questions: The Empire magazine edition

No Time to Die teaser poster

A (short) Empire magazine article is due out on Oct. 31. Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Will this movie be different from other Daniel Craig Bond films?

Perhaps not.

The Empire article has this quote from Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions:

“We always like to have a very personal trial for him emotionally, put him up against something that he finds difficult to deal with emotionally.”

So, if this quote is accurate, No Time to Die will have the same tone that began with 2006’s Casino Royale and which extended into 2015’s SPECTRE.

No differences at all?

Not necessarily. Director Cary Fukunaga may come up with visual differences. Screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge may contribute some bits. Already, Daily Mail scribe Baz Bamigboye has floated a story saying Waller-Bridge’s contributions to the script have saved the movie.

At this point, Waller-Bridge saving the movie is about to become a talking point in the marketing.  We will also hear about how Daniel Craig is the best and/or favorite James Bond performer.

Any conclusions?

If you love Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll love this one. If you’re indifferent to Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll probably be indifferent to this one. If you hate Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll hate this one (most likely).

Really?

It’s possible director Cary Fukunaga comes up with some visual/style changes. There may be surprises audiences can’t anticipate.

We’ll see.

Broccoli talks Bond’s emotional travails

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

In Empire magazine’s 2020 preview issue, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli talks about the emotional stress James Bond is under in No Time to Die.

The issue is due out Thursday, Oct. 31. However, @corneelvf obtained an image of the short article.

“We always like to have a very personal trial for him emotionally, put him up against something that he finds difficult to deal with emotionally,” Broccoli told Empire.

Emotional travails have been a big part of the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Craig’s run began with an adaptation of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first novel. Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd, who betrays him and commits suicide. That’s followed up by Bond seeking revenge in Quantum of Solace. Other emotional highlights include the death of M (Judi Dench) in Skyfall.

Meanwhile, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said it really is possible this will be the end of Craig’s run.

“It looks like the end of this era,” Wilson told Empire.

Finally, Empire said “it’s rumoured” the 25th James Bond film will have “the biggest explosion in cinema history.” Part of the publicity for 2015’s SPECTRE boasted that movie had the biggest explosion in cinema history.

Name of No Time to Die’s villain revealed

Rami Malek

Yes, it’s a spoiler

The name of the villain played by Rami Malek in No Time to Die was revealed in an online story by Empire magazine.

Empire magazine put up a story that carried a Barbara Broccoli quote about the villain and said his name is Safin. The key excerpt:

“We’ve thrown the book at him on this one,” teases Barbara Broccoli in an exclusive report from Empire’s upcoming 2020 Preview Issue – and by ‘the book’, she means Rami Malek’s Safin. “He is really the supervillain. He’s the one that really gets under Bond’s skin. He’s a nasty piece of work.”

None of this is that revealing but the character name had been kept under wraps until now.

There has been fan speculation that Malek was playing a rebooted version of Dr. No.

In SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz was announced as playing a character called Oberhauser who turned out to be a rebooted Blofeld.

We’ll see if Safin is the real character name for No Time to Die or another case of misdirection.

Boyle-Eon: The lack of due diligence

Danny Boyle

Last August, the blog asked whether Danny Boyle and Eon Productions did proper due diligence before Eon decided to hire Boyle to direct Bond 25.

Boyle, seemingly, has confirmed the answer was no.

Empire magazine has a feature story about Boyle in its May issue. The story isn’t online, but Boyle comments about Bond 25 have been summarized, including a story at the MI6 James Bond website.

There’s a passage where Boyle says he left Bond 25 after Eon wanted to bring in other writers to rework what John Hodge had done. (Cary Fukunaga would be hired to replace Boyle.)

“We were working very, very well, but they didn’t want to go down that route,” Empire quotes Boyle as saying. “What John Hodge and I were doing, I thought, was really good. It wasn’t finished, but it could have been really good.

“You have to believe in your process and part of that is the partnership I have with a writer. It’s like saying ‘Hey, we are going to give you a different editor…’ Those fundamental partnerships are vital.”

It sounds like Boyle learned his lesson the hard way. If he had done a little research, maybe a half-hour using Google, he’d have discovered Eon often brings in multiple writers to work on Bond films. In some cases, the more the merrier. 

To be fair, Boyle would not be the first auteur director to have difficulties working in a blockbuster film environment. The 2015 Marvel Studios film Ant-Man originated with Edgar Wright. But, in the end, Wright bowed out while retaining a screenplay credit.

Nevertheless, Eon had plenty of chances to check Boyle out. Boyle and Hodge reportedly pitched their idea. How did they think Boyle would react after telling him Hodge’s work needed to be reworked by other scribes?

“Oh sure, Barbara. Whatever you say.” Not likely. They call it auteur for a reason.

This whole affair likely is more complicated. Regardless, neither side did their proper due diligence. And both sides are to blame. That’s as obvious as how the sun rises in the East.

UPDATE (March 21, 2019): Empire has posted an online excerpt of its Danny Boyle story that contains his comments about Bond 25.

Cruise releases M:I 6’s title, teases a stunt

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram

Tom Cruise took to Instagram on Thursday to disclose the title of the sixth Mission: Impossible movie is Mission: Impossible — Fallout and to post a still of him doing a helicopter stunt.

“We’ve upped the ante for the sixth #MissionImpossible. I can’t wait for you guys to see more,” Cruise wrote on Instagram and on Twitter.

The social media posts also coincided with the release of an Empire magazine interview with Mission: Impossible — Fallout writer-director Christopher McQuarrie.

“The title has multiple meanings in the film, from the literal to the figurative,” explains McQuarrie. “There is the threat of nuclear terrorism hanging over the movie, which is the literal threat.”

And the figurative? “There’s the notion that what’s happened in the movie is the end result of choices that Ethan Hunt has made in his life. It’s Ethan’s past come back to haunt him. It’s the fallout of all his good intentions.”

The production has had setbacks, including Cruise, 55, suffering a broken ankle during filming last summer. Mission: Impossible — Fallout is slated for a late July release, which has been the summer “spy” movie release date since 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

UPDATE (1:15 p.m. New York Time): Mission: Impossible — Fallout also has a Facebook page. It includes this official synopsis:

The best intentions often come back to haunt you. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) along with some familiar allies (Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan) in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm.

 

M:I 6 to meet release date despite Cruise injury, director says

Tom Cruise

Mission: Impossible 6 star-producer Tom Cruise “is on the mend” and the movie is “on track” for its July 2018 release date, director Christopher McQuarrie said on Twitter today.

Cruise, 55, broke his right ankle during filming in the U.K. of a stunt for the movie, McQuarrie confirmed in a separate interview with Empire.

Video of Cruise’s injury surfaced a few days ago. The Sun UK tabloid responded with a story that M:I 6 filming would be delayed for four months. U.S. entertainment news websites such as TheWrap posted stories today saying the shutdown would be six to eight weeks.

McQuarrie, in the Empire interview, said the production hiatus “is unknown. We’re still figuring that out.”

The film had “seven or eight weeks” to complete production, the director said.

“We’ll assess what there is to be shot,” McQuarrie told Empire. “And what we can shoot.”

Once those scenes are filmed “we’ll go on a hiatus and then I’ll shift my attention to editorial,” he told the magazine. “We’ve already shot a huge chunk of the movie so you’re just taking a big chunk of post-production and moving it up sooner.”

After the hiatus, filming will resume, he said. “Nothing we’re looking at right now is going to affect the release date.”

Here’s McQuarrie’s post on Twitter:

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Long-term issues confronting the 007 franchise

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Here are some long-term issues confronting the James Bond film franchise that extend beyond purchased helicopters or even the next 007 film (whenever it comes out).

MGM needs to get bigger or sell out: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, is in a no man’s land in Hollywood.

It’s not big enough to release it’s own movies. In fact, it’s more of a television production company than an actual studio. What few movies it makes annually require cutting deal with another studio to distribute. The last four 007 films were released by Sony, with other MGM projects released by other studios.

Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., has agreed to be acquired by AT&T. If that deal receives U.S. regulatory approval (not a sure thing), other deals may result.

That leaves MGM to decide whether it’s present strategy is adequate. If a new wave of deals develops, MGM probably has to move one way or another — get bigger or sell off to a buyer.

Eon’s succession plan: Eon is a private outfit that doesn’t discuss such subjects. Maybe it has one, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, it needs a succession plan if it doesn’t have one.

Michael G. Wilson, one of the Eon principals, turned 75 last month. His half-sister, Barbara Broccoli, is only 56. But, as the saying goes, nobody lives forever.

Perhaps Gregg Wilson, one of Wilson’s sons who has been working on recent films, is being groomed to take more responsibility once his father retires. At this point, nobody really knows.

Is it time for new marketing ideas? There are recurring themes in marketing Bond films over the past two decades.

One of the most repeated is having the lead female actor talk about his character is Bond’s equal. It was uttered most recently by actress Lea Seydoux in an interview with Empire magazine in early 2015.

We get it. Bond women are now strong and independent. Maybe it’s time to come up new marketing points. Strong women in Bond films are now a given.