A key, if imprecise, date for Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

With the lack of any substantive news about Bond 25, 007 fans are wondering if the next James Bond movie can make a 2018 release.

Here’s a key date that could tell the tale, even if it’s not a precise one.

If — and that’s a big if — a first draft script is delivered in the spring of 2017, then a 2018 release for Bond 25 could still happen.

With SPECTRE, released in the fall of 2015, scribe John Logan told Empire magazine in March 2014 that the first draft was “almost done.”

The script went through a lot of changes after that — including reworking by the likes of Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth. Still, there at least was a starting point.

The problem is nobody outside of Eon Productions knows whether anybody is actually working on a Bond 25 script at this point.

Logan’s hiring to write what would become SPECTRE was announced in November 2012. That was the same month Skyfall was released in the United States.

Originally, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer disclosed that Logan was hired to write two 007 movies, but that plan was later scrapped — in part to lure Skyfall director Sam Mendes back for SPECTRE.

No announcement has been made concerning a writer or writers for Bond 25.

With the lack of any official news, fans have looked for any tidbits, even rumors. For example, THIS REDDIT POST by someone who knows “people in London who work in the film industry” caused a buzz on some 007 message boards this week.

This is from the same Reddit user WHO HAD A POST IN JUNE that has been contradicted by the new post.

If you want to check out the two posts, feel free. The point for providing the links here is that drastically different, and unconfirmed, stories/rumors are being told.

As this blog said recently, 2016 is shaping up as a lost year for the film 007. Spring 2017, as imprecise as that may be, is a key date that could tell us much about Bond 25.

2016: 007’s lost year?

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

While there’s a little more than month yet to go, 2016 is shaping up as a kind of lost year for the cinematic James Bond — when pretty much nothing substantial happened.

Decision made about a studio to actually release Bond 25? No.

Release date, if only the year? No. Can’t set a release date without somebody to distribute it.

Script? Not that anyone knows about.

Director? No.

Bond actor cast for sure? Not really. Incumbent Daniel Craig said in October of Bond, ” Were I to stop doing it, I’d miss it terribly.” But that’s not the same thing as saying, “I’ll be back.”

Something else of note that Craig said was, “There’s no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,”

That evokes the 2002-2006 period when Eon Productions co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were going through a creative mid-life crisis.

Or, as Wilson told The New York Times in 2005, describing that period: “We are running out of energy, mental energy. We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

That creative mid-life crisis followed the release of Die Another Day, a big, sprawling and expensive (for the time) movie. The current exhaustion followed the release of SPECTRE, a big, sprawling and expensive movie.

On top of the usual pressures, much of the behind-the-scenes issues on SPECTRE became public knowledge because of the Sony computer hacks in 2014.

Thus, e-mails about the film’s budget, script problems and negotiations for tax incentives in Mexico became public knowledge. The Gawker website described the plot in detail based on a draft of the script made available by the leaks. So, to be fair, you could argue SPECTRE was more stressful than the usual big-budget movie.

Still, nobody — especially this blog — expected that things would seemingly shut down in 2016.

Michael G. Wilson said late last year he thought Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would select a new distributor by January or February. Wilson also said MGM had talked with executives at three studios, although he didn’t identify them. Sony Pictures has distributed the past four 007 films but its contract expired with SPECTRE.

By March, MGM said no deal was struck and it wasn’t hurrying to reach one. Studio boss Gary Barber said he expected Bond movies to come out on a “three-to-four year cycle.” Eight months later, that’s still the status quo.

As a result, right now there appears to be no momentum on the 007 film front.

By contrast, in November 2012 (the same month Skyfall was released in the U.S.), a writer (John Logan) had been hired and publicly announced by MGM. In July 2013, a fall 2015 release date for the then-untitled Bond 24 was disclosed, along with an announcement that Skyfall director Sam Mendes would return for an encore.

Much of the year has been taken up by reports of supposed contenders for the Bond role or, conversely, supposed major offers for Craig to come back.

Remember how Tom Hiddleston, among others, was a cinch to be the next 007? Remember how Sony supposedly “should be announcing any day” it had a new deal to release Bond 25 and was offering Craig $150 million for two more movies?

Months and months later, neither has become reality.

Maybe there will be a flurry of news in December, such as MGM finally selecting its studio partner. Still, Bond 25 development is behind the pace of SPECTRE at a similar point three years ago. Maybe 2017 will be more eventful.

Broccoli’s latest project: The Kid Stays in the Picture

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli has another non-Bond project lined up, a stage production of The Kid Stays in the Picture about movie executive and producer Robert Evans.

Broccoli, along with half-brother Michael G. Wilson, Patrick Milling Smith and Brian Carmody, are the producers of the play. Broccoli and Wilson are the co-bosses of Eon Productions, which make James Bond films.

Evans, 86, started as an actor before working behind the camera. One of his early roles was in 1957’s Man of a Thousand Faces, a James Cagney movie about Lon Chaney. Evans played film producer Irving Thalberg. He later became a movie mogul in real life as an executive at Paramount. He shifted to being a producer of movies such as Chinatown and Marathon Man.

Along the way, Evans led a colorful life, including marrying actresses Camilla Sparv and Ali McGraw as well as pleading guilty to cocaine trafficking. The title of the play comes from his 1994 autobiography, which was turned into a 2002 documentary.

The play adaptation will run March 7 to April 8 at the Royal Court Theatre in London’s West End.

For producer Broccoli, this is her second recent project dealing with the life of a Hollywood figure. She’s also a producer of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, in which Annette Bening plays actress Gloria Grahame. That film is in post-production. Wilson isn’t involved in the movie.

The real question about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): Updated with another quote and a link to another video in sixth paragraph below.

Daniel Craig’s public appearance at the New Yorker Festival has come and gone without definitive answers about Bond 25 and his future as 007. But it raised a new, and probably more important, question.

How tired is the 007 film franchise? Is it a momentary slump? Or is a deeper exhaustion?

The James Bond Radio website HAD A POST that INCLUDED A SHORT VIDEO of the Craig appearance. It includes this passage:

“There’s no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Craig, 48, said. “The producers are just…Barbara (Broccoli) is making a movie. I’m doing Othello, Barbara’s producing that.”

The Broccoli movie is the drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, now in post-production. Othello is an off-Broadway production, which has a short run starting next month. When that play is over, Craig will spend much of his 2017 working on Purity, a limited, 20-episode series for Showtime.

One shouldn’t make too much about a couple of comments. Also during the evening IN A VIDEO IN ANOTHER TWEET, Craig also said of playing Bond, “Were I to stop doing it, I’d miss it terribly.”

Still, the way Craig said “just a bit tired” made it sound like he still hasn’t recovered fully from SPECTRE, which wrapped production in mid-2015.

Meanwhile the co-bosses of Eon Productions, who don’t do a lot of interviews, have reason to be tired as well.

Both Broccoli, 56, and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, 74, have been involved with the series for decades. Both have been at it longer than Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, who spent the last 35 years of his life in Bondage.

If this is a short-term thing, it’s not much of an issue. But if it’s a deeper exhaustion, there are larger concerns than whether Daniel Craig does another James Bond film or not. If Craig comes back all excited to go, it doesn’t mean much unless the rest of the creative team is equally enthusiastic.

Only Broccoli and Wilson can answer the question. All we know is everybody’s a bit tired almost a year after the most recent 007 film was released.

 

‘If that’s his original ball, I’m Arnold Palmer!’

goldfinger-golf

That line was spoken by James Bond’s caddie in Goldfinger as it becomes evident the villain is cheating during a round a golf.

The line was also an indication of the global popularity of golfer Arnold Palmer, who died Sunday at the age of 87, according to obituaries by numerous news outlets, including The New York Times. His death was also announced on Twitter by the United States Golf Association.

Palmer also had an association with Eon Productions, appeared in the production company’s second film, Call Me Bwana.

What is Wilson’s role in the 007 franchise?

Michael G. Wilson

Michael G. Wilson

Over the past year, a narrative has taken hold that it’s Barbara Broccoli who calls the shots for the James Bond franchise. Period. Full stop.

Perhaps the person most responsible for shaping that narrative is Sam Mendes, director of the past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE.

“It’s not the X Factor, it’s not the EU referendum, it’s not a public vote,” Mendes said in May at an event sponsored by The Telegraph, which ran a story about the director’s remarks. “Barbara Broccoli chooses who’s going to be the next Bond: end of story.”

The comments were picked up by the likes of Vanity Fair and the BBC, among others.

As a result, there’s the perception that Broccoli, 56, is the driving force of 007 land. Meanwhile, her half-brother, Michael G. Wilson, 74, doesn’t get mentioned much, even though the half-siblings are supposed to be the co-bosses of Eon.

In December 2014, when it was announced SPECTRE would be the title of Bond 24, Broccoli was present with Mendes but Wilson wasn’t. However, when the production shifted to Mexico in early 2015, Wilson was involved in publicity.

This weekend, the tabloid Mirror ran a story saying Guy Ritchie was in talks with Eon to direct Bond 24. One element that caught the blog’s eye was how the Mirror said Ritchie supposedly was meeting with Wilson, rather than Broccoli. (Note: we slapped the Caveat Emptor label on it.)

It’s hard to tell how accurate, or significant, the Mirror story is. It’s simply interesting that Wilson is being depicted as a major decision maker after the way Mendes made it sound as if nobody’s opinion except Broccoli’s matters.

Of late, stories about the 007 franchise discuss Broccoli but don’t get around to Wilson.

Wilson, since the 1990s, have periodically complained about the grind of making James Bond movies. That’s something his step father, Albert R. Broccoli, never said publicly.

Wilson has spent longer than anybody else working on the 007 franchise, even co-founder Cubby Broccoli. If Wilson were to retire tomorrow, nobody could argue that he wasn’t a major figure in 007 movies.

Neither Wilson nor Barbara Broccoli revel in publicizing Bond movies the way Cubby Broccoli did. Eon is a very private outfit, not wanting to open the curtain very much on its operations.

Still, the Mirror story (whether it was accurate or not) was a reminder that Wilson is a big wheel in the 007 franchise. It would be interesting to know whether Mendes is indeed correct about Barbara Broccoli’s 007 status or if reality is more complicated.