A footnote about two of Wilson & Broccoli’s non-007 films

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, co-bosses of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, co-bosses of Eon Productions

We read a debate on a 007-related message board about the non-Bond films of Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

Supporters of the Eon Productions co-bosses said it was great they were involved with other projects, it would keep them fresh and invigorated. Skeptics wondered whether this would adversely affect the Bond series.

This post doesn’t take a side in the debate. Rather, it’s to provide additional information. We’ll take it step-by-step.

–Broccoli and Wilson are listed as executive producers on two independent films, Radiator and The Silent Storm.

–What does that mean? “Executive producer” in movies is a secondary, supportive-type title to the producer or producers. On television, executive producer is the title used by the top producer or producers of a show.

On SPECTRE, the 24th 007 film, Broccoli and Wilson were producers (the top producers, naturally) and Callum McDougall was executive producer. McDougall also doubled as unit production manager.

–Put another way, Broccoli and Wilson aren’t the primary producers on either Radiator or The Silent Storm, the same way Callum McDougall wasn’t the primary producer on SPECTRE.

Broccoli and Wilson are among 12 executive producers on The Silent Storm and among eight executive producers on Radiator.

The lead producers of Radiator were Tom Browne and Genevieve Stevens. The lead producers of The Silent Storm was Nicky Bentham.

As for the debate on the message board, the real question is how well Broccoli and Wilson are at multi-tasking.

In the 1960s, there was a tension between Eon founders Albert R. Broccoli (Barbara Broccoli’s father and Michael G. Wilson’s stepson) and Harry Saltzman.

Saltzman pursued a number of non-Bond projects while Albert R. Broccoli (aside from Call Me Bwana and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the latter based on another Ian Fleming novel) concentrated on the 007 series.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, meanwhile, are pursuing the Saltzman model. Besides the independent films, they’re also involved in plays and television projects.

Barbara Broccoli named BAFTA VP for film

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli, co-boss of Eon Productions, has been named vice president of film for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the organization said in a statement.

Here’s an excerpt:

Following the recent appointment of Greg Dyke as BAFTA’s Vice President for Television, Barbara Broccoli will join Dyke in co-chairing BAFTA’s Council, supporting the Academy’s President, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, and assuming an ambassadorial role for the charity. …BAFTA can appoint up to three Vice Presidents, one in each of the three sectors of film, television and games, who can serve a term of up to six years.

Barbara Broccoli OBE said: “I am passionate about BAFTA’s role in educating, inspiring and celebrating generations of British film-makers. I am therefore honoured to accept the role of BAFTA’s Vice President for Film”.

Broccoli, 55, and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, 74, have produced the last eight James Bond movies, starting with GoldenEye in 1995.

To read the entire press release, CLICK HERE.

Is Sony prepared for a post-007 future?

sonylogo

Sony Pictures may have prepared itself for a future without 007 films.

The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website has POSTED A STORY BY MIKE FLEMING JR. which outlines the studio’s plans for “franchise” films.

Here’s an excerpt:

Sony’s The Dark Tower is now really real. Days after Stephen King tweeted his blessing and a confirmation that Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are firmed to square off in the leads, Sony Pictures just staked the 2017 Presidents Day weekend for a global launch of the first installment of the Nikolaj Arcel-directed epic fantasy. The studio has also set Bad Boys 3, with Joe Carnahan directing a reteam of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, for June 2, 2017, and it has set Barbie for Mother’s Day weekend, May 12, 2017.

Under Tom Rothman, Sony has been restocking its franchise arsenal, but it didn’t take long. Sony has an enviable 2017 release scheduling.

Rothman replaced Sony executive Amy Pascal, whose reputation took a hit following the Sony hacks in 2014. She’s now a producer working out of Sony and her projects include a Spider-Man movie where Sony and Disney’s Marvel Studios are collaborating.

Sony, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has released the last four 007 films produced by Eon Productions. Sony’s contract expires with SPECTRE. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which co-owns the 007 franchise with Eon and its parent firm Danjaq, is deciding whether to continue with Sony or reach a deal with another studio to release Bond 25.

Until MGM reaches a deal, nothing much can happen with Bond 25. MGM doesn’t have the resources to release Bond movies on its own. Bond 25 won’t have a release date (2018, 2019, whatever) until MGM strikes a deal.

Thanks to @Stringray_travel on Twitter for alerting us to the Deadline story.

 

Eon’s newest non-007 venture

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, co-bosses of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, co-bosses of Eon Productions

Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond film series, has entered into a “creative alliance” with newly formed Cove Pictures, a new international television production concern, VARIETY REPORTED.

Cove “will focus on high-end drama, comedy and factual programs for the global market,” and will work with Eon to develop “internationally targeted” shows, according to the entertainment news outlet.

The new production company is headed by Heather Rabbatts, who has served with Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli on the U.K. Film Council, Variety said.

Eon, since the death of co-founder Albert R. Broccoli in 1996, has become involved in a number of stage productions. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the other Eon co-boss, were among 12 executives producers of the 2014 film The Silent Storm.

Eon also has worked to develop a movie about Edward Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency documents to reporters. Barbara Broccoli and Wilson also have been involved in an effort to remake a 1957 horror film titled Night of the Demon in the U.K. and Curse of the Demon in the United States.

You can read the Variety story by CLICKING HERE or a story about Cove by The Hollywood Reporter by CLICKING HERE.

Manic-depressive days waiting for Bond 25 news

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Nature abhors a vacuum. So in the absence of Bond 25 news, there’s the occasional 007 commentary that can come across as manic-depressive.

On the manic side, Forbes.com contributor Scott Mendelson weighed in with a Jan. 26 post about what a success SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, was at the box office. Part of the introduction read thusly:

So how did James Bond do this time out? Well, pretty darn spectacular, actually…(T)he film earned an obscene $877 million worldwide on a $240m budget, so it’s obviously a huge hit.

Depends on your definition of “obscene,” but SPECTRE did come in at No. 6 worldwide and No. 10 in the U.S. and Canada at $199.3 million. Neither figure was as good as 2012’s Skyfall but clearly SPECTRE was a popular movie.

However, Mendelson (who wrote a review saying SPECTRE was the worst 007 film in 30 years) may have gotten a bit carried away talking about how the film did at the box office.

“The next entry will probably be Daniel Craig’s swan song and will definitely be out by 2017 in order to capitalize on the 55th anniversary of Dr. No,” Mendelson wrote. (emphasis added)

A few things: 1) Daniel Craig is scheduled to be in an off-Broadway production of Othello this fall. The exact schedule hasn’t been announced, according to stories LIKE THIS ONE. But for Bond 25 to be in theaters in 2017, production may need to get started before the end of this year. Will Craig have enough time between Othello and Bond 25?

2) At this point, we don’t know what studio will release Bond 25. Sony Pictures’ contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expired with SPECTRE. It might be a little premature to assume a 2017 release until MGM reaches a new deal, either with Sony or another studio.

3) 55th anniversary? Do people really care about 55th anniversaries? This is the same franchise that passed up a once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity to have a Bond movie come out in 2007.

Neither Michael G. Wilson nor Barbara Broccoli is anxious to produce movies on an every-other-year schedule (which a 2017 release for Bond 25 would represent). It really seems hard to believe they’d move heaven and earth for a marketing tagline of “the 55th anniversary Bond film!”

On the depressive side, there’s a Jan. 7 commentary on the Cultbox website. The post, by on the artistic side, makes it sound like Bond 25 comes at a critical time.

While entertaining in parts, for many the 24th official Bond adventure was one of the biggest letdowns of 2015. The Blofeld twist was the least surprising reveal since Cumberbatch was Khan in Star Trek into Darkness, and him being Bond’s foster brother somehow added precisely zero depth to the narrative and characters.

Coupled with a fondness for lingering silently on dimly-lit moments of supposed tension for an interminable length of time and Daniel Craig’s unease with playing the lighter moments, audiences were left disheartened with the direction the franchise had taken.

It sounds a little dire. Almost every film generates mixed fan opinion. The post does explore alternate ideas (getting a new Bond, sticking with Craig, making a period piece 007 film) and it makes for an interesting discussion.

Reading the two articles back-to-back makes for interesting reading. With no real Bond 25 news to chew over, we can probably expect more varying interpretations of the state of the franchise.

SPECTRE may pass break-even point this weekend

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE may surpass the break-even point this weekend less than a month after its premiere.

Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box-office data said in a tweet that the 24th James Bond movie’s global box office “looks to top” the $670 million mark this weekend.

While only studio accountants know for sure, VARIETY ESTIMATED NOV. 4 that SPECTRE needed $650 million in worldwide box office to break even. Here’s an excerpt from that story:

With a price tag of $250 million, plus more than $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, industry executives predict that the picture will have to do $650 million to break even. That’s because “Spectre’s” backers, a group that includes Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and Eon Productions, will have to split revenues with exhibitors. Fewer than 90 films have ever achieved that gross globally and only one other Bond film, “Skyfall,” has ever surpassed that mark.

Skyfall’s global box office was $1.11 billion. An estimate for SPECTRE’s third weekend in the U.S. and Canada will be released Sunday and the actual figure on Monday.

Here’s the tweet from Exhibitor Relations.

GoldenEye’s 20th anniversary: 007 begins anew

GoldenEye's poster

GoldenEye’s poster

GoldenEye, the 17th James Bond film, had a lot riding on it, not the least of which was the future of the 007 franchise.

It had been six years since the previous Bond film, Licence to Kill. A legal fight between Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had kept 007 out of movie theaters. In 1990, Danjaq, the holding company for Eon, was put up for sale, although it never changed hands.

After the dispute was settled came the business of trying kick start production.

Timothy Dalton ended up exiting the Bond role so a search for a replacement began. Eon boss Albert R. Broccoli selected Pierce Brosnan — originally chosen for The Living Daylights but who lost the part when NBC ordered additional episodes of the Remington Steele series the network had canceled.

Brosnan’s selection would be one of Broccoli’s last major moves. The producer, well into his 80s, underwent heart surgery in the summer of 1994 and turned over the producing duties to his daughter and stepson, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Broccoli himself would only take a presenting credit in the final film.

Various writers were considered. The production team opted to begin pre-production on a story devised by Michael France.

His 1994 first draft was considerably different than the final film. France’s villain was Augustus Trevelyan, former head of MI6 who had defected to the Soviet Union years earlier. Bond also had a personal grudge against Trevelyan.

Other writers — Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade and Bruce Feirstein — were called in to rework the story.  The villain became Alec Trevelyan, formerly 006 and now head of the Janus crime syndicate in the post-Cold War Russia. In addition, the final script included a new M (Judi Dench), giving Bond a woman superior. Caine and Feirstein would get the screenplay credit while France only received a “story by” credit.

In the 21st century, many Bond fans assume 007 will always be a financial success. In the mid 1990s, those working behind the scenes didn’t take success for granted.

“Wilson and (Barbara) Broccoli already knew that GoldenEye was a one-shot chance to reintroduce Bond,” John Cork and Bruce Scivally wrote in the 2002 book James Bond: The Legacy. “After Cubby’s operation, they also knew the fate of the film — and James Bond — rested on their shoulders.”

GoldenEye’s crew had  new faces to the 007 series. Martin Campbell assumed duties as the movie’s director. Daniel Kleinman became the new title designer. His predecessor, Maurice Binder, had died in 1991. Eric Serra was brought on as composer, delivering a score unlike the John Barry style.

One familiar face, special effects and miniatures expert Derek Meddings, returned. He hadn’t worked on a Bond since 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. GoldenEye would be his last 007 contribution. He died in September 1995, before the film’s release.

In the end, GoldenEye came through, delivering worldwide box office of $352.2 million. Bruce Feirstein, who had done the final rewrites of the script, was hired to write the next installment. Bond was back.

 

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