RE-POST: Why Bond 25 didn’t economize

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Updated from an April 3 post.

NEW INTRODUCTION: This past week, The Hollywood Reporter had a feature story about No Time to Die cast members Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas that had a passing reference that the film’s budget was $250 million.

On Nov. 9, the Daily Mail had a story with a passing reference that the budget was 200 million British pounds ($257 million or so, depending on the conversion rate).

Regular readers of this blog were probably not surprised. In April, the blog had a post about why it was not likely the 25th James Bond film didn’t do much economizing.

Since that post was published, it became public knowledge that writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge also worked on the movie’s script. Her reported fee (via The Hollywood Reporter) was $2 million. Thus, there’s even more evidence that spending on the movie continued on the high side.

Over the past few days, other outlets have picked up on the $250 million budget figure for No Time to Die. SPECTRE had a $245 million figure (after tax breaks, product placement and other incentives were factored in).

What follows in the text of the blog’s original post on the subject.

ORIGINAL APRIL POST: Bond 25 production got underway last week with some filming in Norway. There’s a lot we don’t know (including a title). But there are some signs that the film isn’t traveling in Economy Class.

Delays in production: Eon Productions began renting space at Pinewood Studios last year. But filming there has been delayed at least five months.

Eon couldn’t just give up that space. Demand for space at Pinewood is high. So that’s a few months without any footage actually being shot. That makes it harder to economize.

An expensive script doctor: Scott Z. Burns recently spent four weeks working on Bond 25’s script. He’s a well-regarded scribe and he’s moving into directing. His services are in demand. It’s likely his Bond 25 services didn’t come cheap. (UPDATE: Burns’s involvement was confirmed in late April at the “reveal” event in Jamaica.)

The star may have gotten a raise: Variety last year reported that Daniel Craig will receive $25 million for his fifth 007 film. The truth is known to Craig, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, Craig’s agent and the various studios backing Bond 25. Still, it’s unlikely Craig’s services are receiving discounted rates.

The Mission: Impossible franchise means now isn’t the time to economize: This is a favorite fan theory/speculation. During the 2010s, the Mission: Impossible films starring and produced by Tom Cruise have cranked out three entries while Eon’s 007 series will have two.

Moreover, the M:I films have gotten a lot of attention for their stunts, big set pieces and international intrigue — things the 007 films are known for.

Paramount recently announced the Cruise M:I series will produce two more entries back-to-back, coming out in 2021 and 2022. By the time the latter entry is out, Cruise will be 60 and Christopher McQuarrie will have written and directed four films.

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.

No Time to Dies finishes filming; off to post-production

No Time to Die teaser poster

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions, officially finished filming on Friday, Oct. 25.

The official Eon Productions 007 Twitter feed published a post announcing the end of filming. The tweet included a photo of star Daniel Craig and director Cary Fukunaga.

The Bond production now officially moves to post-production. The post-production crew now must ready the film to meet an early April 2020 release date.

Publicity for the movie, so far, has been sparse. The title was announced in August. But a trailer has yet to be released. It’s not known for sure when a first trailer will come out.

Here’s the tweet from Eon:

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

Bond keeps marketing to the 1% (maybe 0.5%)

The “old days”: Affordable James Bond lunchbox seen around U.S. school yards, circa 1965-66

If you’re not among the 1 percent — maybe the 0.5 percent — then the James Bond film franchise doesn’t really care about you.

The latest offering from the 007 store is a James Bond backgammon set costing 4,895 British pounds (about $6,040).

Here’s a description:

Introducing a backgammon board worthy of James Bond. The 007 Bespoke Backgammon Set is hand built for champions and aficionados by the world-renown Geoffrey Parker, the backgammon championship board supplier of choice. Individually handmade to order, each set has a unique three digit number – which 00 will you be?

If you’ve got the money, perhaps you can play a game of backgammon while you sit in your Aston Martin DB5 replica that the car company is selling for more than $3 million each.

Of course, those replicas aren’t street legal, so you can’t drive them anywhere unless you haul them to a race track that you can afford to rent.

That’s not exactly marketing to the masses.

Bond became a phenomenon in the 1960s. Kids took their (affordable) lunch boxes to schools. Parents bought (affordable) puzzles and games for their children. All of that hooked future generations of Bond fans.

Today? Not so much. Many studios use forums such as the San Diego Comic Con as a big marketing platform. It’s seen as a way to market to young people. Not the Bond franchise.

Eon Productions briefly (1994 and 1995) held a fan convention as the franchise revived as the 1989-95 hiatus ended.

Since then? Forget it. Bond is all about the 1 percent, maybe even the 0.5 percent.

Well, that’s how it goes.

UPDATE (Oct. 4, 2019): Bollinger has its own offerings for the 1 percent. Details below from a press release.

Bollinger Tribute to Moonraker Luxury Limited Edition

Moonraker, released forty years ago, featured James Bond whose mission took him on an outer space adventure. It was also the movie on which the Bond and Bollinger partnership began. To celebrate their 40 year partnership, Champagne Bollinger and 007 pay tribute to their shared heritage and revisit the space shuttle created by legendary production designer Ken Adam. Champagne Bollinger enlisted designer Eric Berthes to re-imagine the Moonraker space shuttle. Crafted from pewter and wood veneer, encasing a Saint Louis crystal ice bucket and a magnum of Bollinger 2007, the Bond vintage par excellence. Each numbered piece has been crafted and finished by hand, making it unique. Limited edition of 407 copies. RRP £4,500.

That’s about $5,500.

The Bollinger 007 Limited Edition Millésimé 2011

To mark the release of the upcoming movie No Time To Die, the 25th instalment of the James Bond series, the House has created a limited edition wine dedicated to 007, with a 2011 vintage inspired by the world of Bond. The jet-black 75cl bottle is adorned with the number “25”, formed from the titles of the previous films, which are similarly etched on the glass of the wooden box. The 2011 vintage, an atypical year, inspired Cellar Master to produce a unique champagne, created entirely from Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, where the House was first established in 1829. This is the first time that both the vintage and village have been used exclusively by Bollinger to make a dedicated wine. The excellent 2011 harvest in Aÿ, produced complex, powerful and harmonious Pinot Noirs, fully expressed in this characterful wine. RRP £150.

That’s about $184.

Repeat after me: Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond

No Time to Die logo

It’s pretty clear that one recurring theme of No Time to Die’s publicity campaign, such as it is to date, is that Daniel Craig is the favorite and/or best James Bond of principals associated with the movie.

Barbara Broccoli (Hollywood Reporter podcast, December 2017): Craig “brought humanity to the character…making Bond relevant to today….My heart was breaking” until Craig said he’d return for Bond 25/No Time to Die.

The interviewer, Scott Feinberg, asked if Craig was the best of the six actors employed by Eon Productions. “They’ve (Bond actors) all been incredible. But he (Craig) is particularly incredible.”

Host of April 2019 “reveal” event from Jamaica: Referring to Craig, introduces a montage of Bond films scenes that she says shows how Craig made Bond “his own.”

No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga, during the “reveal” event: “Daniel is my favorite James Bond.”

Rami Malek on The Late Show (CBS), Oct. 2, 2019Craig “is my favorite Bond if I can say that.”

Is this a talking a point from the publicity department? Is it honest emotion from those concerned? You be the judge.

Apple seen as buyer to stock new streaming service (MGM?)

Apple logo

Apple Inc., which is preparing to launch a streaming television service, is seen as looking to buy entertainment companies to get a library of titles for viewing. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, James Bond’s home studio, comes up on the list of possibilities.

Earlier this month, Apple said its Apple TV + will go live Nov. 1 and cost $4.99 a month, $2 less than rival Disney +. The problem is Apple doesn’t have the library of titles that Disney has, which includes projects made under the Disney, Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios brands. Marvel, in particular, is making new series for Disney + to go along with its various movie titles. AT&T, which owns Warner Bros., also is getting into streaming television.

Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance had separate stories on Sept. 13 raising the question whether Apple may buy entertainment properties to boost its supply of programming.

Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg story (which was picked up by The Washington Post):

Much has been made of Apple TV+ undercutting competitors, but the price was set low to make up for the fact that, unlike rival services, it won’t contain a backlog of content out of the gate. (snip)

Apple’s lack of a library argues for the company to buy a production studio. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (which also owns the Starz premium channel), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (known as MGM), Sony Pictures and indie studio A24 are all prospects.

Yahoo Finance interviewed Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

“It’s a content arms race,” Ives told Yahoo. “Right now, Apple has built a house, they’ve priced it accordingly. They need to fill it with content and we think that’s going to be the next trick up the sleeve for (Apple CEO Tim) Cook in terms of bigger M&A.” That’s mergers and acquisitions for those who don’t converse in business talk.

Ives’s pecking order for potential purchases was as follows: A24 Studio, Lionsgate, Viacom/CBS, Sony Pictures, MGM Studios, Netflix “and then a potential gaming publisher (that could be incorporated into Apple’s streaming service or a separate gaming subscription service) as a wild card.”

Sony distributed the four most recent Bond films. It’s not involved with No Time to Die, which will be distributed by United Artists Releasing (joint venture between MGM and Annapurna) in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

MGM has long been one of the weakest studios, having survived various restructurings and a bankruptcy. MGM controls half of the Bond film franchise along with Danjaq, parent company of Eon Productions. MGM also owns a large film library, which includes the old United Artists library containing such titles (in addition to Bond films) as West Side Story, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, the Rocky series and the Pink Panther series.

Apple certainly has plenty of cash. Interesting times in show biz.

Trailer for Eon’s The Rhythm Section arrives

A trailer for The Rhythm Section, the non-Bond spy film made by Eon Productions, went online today.

The movie is set for a Jan. 31, 2020 release. It has been pushed back twice by Paramount. Star Blake Lively suffered an injury during filming in 2017. The project is part of a move by Eon to diversify from its Bond base.

Here’s a look at the trailer.