Hindsight: Boyle-directed Bond 25

Danny Boyle

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20-20.

So, if Danny Boyle and Eon Productions hadn’t parted ways in August 2018, Bond 25 presumably would have made its original November 2019 release date.

Of course, it didn’t play out that way. Cary Fukunaga was hired as Boyle’s replacement.

Once that occurred, Bond 25 (later No Time to Die) was scheduled to come out Feb. 14, 2020. But that didn’t work out and the release was pushed back to April 2020 — this month.

That’s the comfort of hindsight. Maybe Bond 25 would have been handicapped by an Odd Couple relationship between Boyle and Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions.

There’s no way to know for now. All fans know is Boyle exited because of “creative differences” between himself and Eon Productions.

The best evidence of a better alternative is the Fukunaga-directed No Time to Die, currently being stored where ever it may be. Fukunaga says the movie is locked down and won’t be tweaked until its current release date of November.

Movies evolve. Directors and writers come and go. For Bond fans spending their time at home because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they can only wonder what could have been — and anticipate what is to come.

MGM’s NTTD shift may cost $30M-$50M, THR says

New No Time to Die poster

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer may take a hit of $30 million to $50 million by moving No Time to Die’s release date, The Hollywood Reporter said. But not moving the date could have cost more, the outlet said, citing people it didn’t identify.

MGM, James Bond’s home studio, Eon Productions and Universal (the international distributor) said this week the 25th James Bond film is being moved to November from April.

THR said MGM “fully financed” No Time to Time, which has an estimated production budget of $250 million.

The entertainment news outlet said had MGM stuck with the April release, that would have been more costly because of markets where theaters were shut down because of the coronavirus.

Theaters in China, Japan and Italy have been closed. “That could have resulted in a minimum of 30 percent shaved off the final box-office tallies — a possible $300 million out of a likely $1 billion haul at the worldwide box office,” THR said.

Earlier this week, the MI6 James Bond website and The James Bond Dossier urged MGM, Universal and Eon Productions to delay the release because of health hazards stemming from the coronavirus. The open letter was published March 2 and the decision to delay was announced March 4.

The open letter, besides citing the health risks, said No Time to Die faced lower box office prospects because of efforts to combat coronavirus.

“Of the countries with large public gatherings banned or restricted, their combined ‘SPECTRE’ box-office was $313m, or 38% of the global haul,” the open letter said. SPECTRE, released in 2015, was the most recent Bond film.

Bond 25 questions: The coronavirus delay edition

Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond

James Bond defeated the likes of Dr. No, Rosa Klebb, Auric Goldfinger, Blofeld, et. al. But even 007 had to retreat in the face of a potential pandemic with the delay of No Time to Die pushed back to November.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What happened? The coronavirus (technical name COVID-19). It surfaced in China at the end of 2019. It spread to Japan, South Korea, Italy, and other nations. There have now been deaths in the U.S. from the disease.

Why is that such a big deal? COVID-19, at this point, is very contagious. It also is more potent than normal seasonal flu.

Seasonal flu has a death rate of between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent. The new coronavirus had been estimated at 2 percent. The World Health Organization then raised it to 3.4 percent. But that’s a moving target, subject to revision as more data becomes available. The 1918 “Spanish flu” had a death rate of about 2.5 percent. It killed between 20 million and 50 million globally.

Is there a broader context? Yes. Theaters in China have been closed for weeks. Coronavirus outbreaks in Europe have had results, including the cancellation of this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Some countries are cracking down on events with mass gatherings in an effort to cut back on spread of the disease. Many major companies are eliminating travel for employees for now.

How did No Time to Die get involved? The 25th James Bond film’s Beijing premiere was canceled a while back. So was a publicity tour in China, South Korea and Japan.

Earlier this week, the MI6 James Bond website and The James Bond Dossier published an open letter urging Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal (the international distributor) to delay the movie’s March 31 premiere. The letter noted that major markets for Bond films already had been affected by the coronavirus, with more impact to come.

The open letter went viral. Over the next two days, a number of outlets wrote about the open letter, beginning with The Hollywood Reporter. Others include the BBC, Variety, IndieWire, The Guardian, Daily Mail, and Uproxx among others.

Chances are Eon, MGM and Universal were already thinking about it. But the global reaction to the open letter had to be a factor.

What happens next? Presumably the publicity build-up goes on hold and we’ll come back to it later.

For what it’s worth, Bond films since 1995’s GoldenEye have been released in either November or December. No Time to Die  is back in that part of the calendar. But the delay does cement the 2015-2020 gap between SPECTRE and No Time to Die as the second-longest in the history of the Eon series.

No Time to Die delayed to November because of coronavirus

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

The release of No Time to Die was delayed until November because of the coronavirus, it was announced today.

“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of NO TIME TO DIE will be postponed until November 2020,” according to a tweet on the official Eon 007 account on Twitter.

In a follow-up tweet, it was specified the U.K. release was now Nov. 12, 2020 while the U.S. release will be on Nov. 25.

The move comes amid the spread of the disease, with governments moving to clamp down on places where large numbers of people gather.

Movie theaters in China have been closed for weeks. There have been outbreaks in Europe that resulted in the closing of the Louvre museum in Paris and the cancelation of this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

The 25th James Bond film had been set to premiere on March 31 in London, with an April 2 release. The U.S. release had been set for April 10.

Earlier this week, the MI6 James Bond website and The James Bond Dossier had published an open letter to Eon and the studios urging them to delay the film’s release. The open letter was then picked up in a number of outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, IndieWire and others.

Here’s the first tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

MI6 site urges NTTD delay because of coronavirus

No Time to Die poster

The MI6 James Bond website urged No Time to Die’s production company and studios to delay the release of the 25th 007 film because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

With the coronavirus “reaching pandemic status, it is time to put public health above marketing release schedules and the cost of canceling publicity events,” the site said.

No Time to Die’s world premiere is scheduled for March 31 in London.

“Hundreds of fans and celebrities from around the world will be flying to the UK to attend,” MI6 said of the premiere.

“The Royal Albert Hall capacity is above the 5,000 limit that affected countries are banning for public gatherings. Just one person, who may not even show symptoms, could infect the rest of the audience. This is not the type of publicity anyone wants.”

The letter suggested delaying the release until summer “when experts expect the epidemics to have peaked and to be under control.”

The coronavirus first broke out in China. That country has closed its movie theaters. No Time to Die’s Beijing premiere was canceled as was a publicity tour for China, South Korea and Japan.

Since then, there have been outbreaks in Europe. The Geneva Motor Show, a major auto industry event, has been canceled for this year after the Swiss government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people through March 15. In Paris, the Louvre museum has been closed because of the virus.

“Developed nations that are suffering from community spread of the virus, including Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea have banned large public gatherings,” MI6 said. “Italy closed all cinemas in their ‘red zone’ last night. The outbreaks in the UK and the USA are just starting to trend towards epidemics.”

The MI6 site’s article was written as an open letter to Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (the Bond franchise’s home studio) and Universal, which is handling international distribution.

The letter was signed by James Page, co-founder of MI6 and MI6 Confidential magazine, and David Leigh, founder of The James Bond Dossier website.

Disclosure: MI6 also produces the James Bond & Friends podcast, where I sometimes appear as a guest.

From the producers of The Rhythm Section…

Eon Productions logo

Eon Productions is getting involved in another non-Bond spy movie.

Here’s an excerpt from a story by the Deadline: Hollywood website.

The upcoming EFM just got a shot in the arm with the launch of Gerard Butler action-thriller Remote Control from Hyde Park, STX, G-Base and James Bond producers Eon.

STX will distribute in the U.S. and launch international sales this week in Berlin on the movie which will follow Michael Rafter (Butler), a former war correspondent turned corporate security consultant, whose life is overturned when he receives a mysterious phone call from an unknown source.

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson will be executive producers on the movie. “Ashok Amritraj will produce through Hyde Park Entertainment Group alongside Butler and Alan Siegel through their G-Base Entertainment banner,” according to Deadline.

Eon’s most recent attempt at a non-Bond espionage film, The Rhythm Section, flopped. It grossed $5.4 million in the U.S., $434,400 in the U.K. and $5,419 in Asia as of today, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie had a production budget of $50 million.

Remote Control, like The Rhythm Section, is based on a novel by Mark Burnell. Burnell did the screenplay for both projects. Remote Control is to be directed by John Mathieson, an experienced cinematographer.

Bond 25 questions: The Rhythm Section/Super Bowl edition

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Separate events over the weekend — the debut of a non-Bond Eon film and a Super Bowl spot for No Time to Die — have generated some questions at the blog.

Are these events related?

Yes, in one respect.

The Rhythm Section and No Time to Die will have music from the same group.

The music credit for The Rhythm Section says the score was “produced by” Hans Zimmer while the music was by Steve Mazzaro, a composer affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions.

After the No Time to Die commercial aired on the Super Bowl, Zimmer put out a tweet that said, the spot “doesn’t have my music (still working on it with my friend Steve Mazzaro!) but you’ll hear what we come up with soon.”

So, Zimmer is working with Mazzaro on No Time to Die. Meanwhile, Mazzaro’s score for The Rhythm Section sounds very much like the Zimmer-credited scores for Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. BROOOOOOMMMMM!

Are you saying No Time to Die’s score will sound like that?

Not necessarily. But the Mazzaro (channeling Zimmer) score for The Rhythm Section didn’t break new ground. We’ll have to see what the duo come up with for No Time to Die.

What was new in the Super Bowl spot?

Actually, quite a lot. There were a few shots that appeared in the trailer released in December. But there was new material, including Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Lashana Lynch in an unusual aircraft.

That plane looked similar (but larger) compared with the mini jet seen in the pre-titles sequence in 1983’s Octopussy. The idea originally was in the first draft script of Moonraker where Bond and Holly Goodhead flew his and her mini jets.

What happened with The Rhythm Section’s box office?

The Paramount-released movie was not just a flop. It was a historic flop. It had the lowest box office (not adjusted for inflation) of any movie opening with more than 3,000 screens. The Rhythm Section broke a 14-year record in that regard.

Deadline: Hollywood published a story over the weekend about various things that went wrong, including test screenings that went over badly, financing issues and behind-the-scenes disagreements.

Movies with more problems have been hits. If Deadline is to be believed, there was a lot of bad luck involved for The Rhythm Section. Regardless, the numbers are the numbers. Numbers can be very unforgiving.