Bond 25 questions: Does anything matter outside the U.K.?

No Time to Die poster

Eon Productions last week said No Time to Die will come out on Sept. 30 and Oct. 8 in the U.S. Do James Bond movies, as the series 60th anniversary approaches, matter much beyond the U.K.?

Vulture, the arts website of New York magazine, seems to have come to that conclusion. Naturally, the blog has questions.

Can this remotely be true?

Vulture didn’t pull any punches in an Aug. 24 report.

According to a person with knowledge of business practices at Eon, everyone’s expectations there have been adjusted downward.

“They’ve lost so much money by moving [No Time to Die]; the marketing has gotten stale,” the person says. “The Broccolis care more about the U.K. than anything — making it a big hit in the U.K., a decent hit in the U.S. and the rest of the world.” (emphasis added)

There are certainly old-time Bond fans — that live in the U.K. and boast of having seen Goldfinger first-run in the theater while also saying the U.S. and other markets don’t matter — who feel that way. But they don’t actually manage the franchise. (They just think they do.)

In this day and age, a global film franchise needs, well, global support.

So what may be happening?

Here’s how Vulture views it:

When it comes to Bond, Eon is crossing its fingers that the audience comfort level shoots up above 81 percent again and is “hoping for the $700, $800 [million] range,” the source close to the company says. “There’s no way they’re going to get there. But there may be some cover: ‘We probably weren’t going to do a huge number. We can blame COVID, do some business in the U.S., and move on.’”

Well, let’s keep this in mind:

NTTD footage shown at CinemaCon

One of the many No Time to Die posters

Some No Time to Die Footage was shown at CinemaCon, a gathering for theater owners.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hasn’t been at CinemaCon for 20 years, according to Deadline: Hollywood.. Another entertainment site, The Wrap, had a more detailed description of the No Time to Die footage shown. (Avoid if you don’t like spoilers.). Most of this describes footage seen in previous trailers.

In the footage, Daniel Craig’s Bond wakes up on top of a building, disoriented, and the sound is muffled. Calling someone on the phone seems fruitless, so Bond begins to run through the city only to be on the receiving end of gunfire from Spectre agents. He ropes himself off the side of a bridge to escape, but he soon runs into the people chasing him. A fight ensues in typical Bond fashion.

Next, we see Bond with Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann, and Bond asks her how Spectre knew he was in the city. He thinks she betrayed her, and there’s nothing she can say to persuade him otherwise. The two get into a beautiful vintage Aston Martin that Bond fans will recognize as the DB5 from “Goldfinger,” with all of Q’s weapons included. However, it unfortunately gets completely destroyed by gunfire in the middle of a town square by the Spectre agents..

Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, last week confirmed No Time to Die’s world premiere will be Sept. 28. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to debut Sept. 30 in the U.K. and other countries and Oct 8 in the U.S.

Eon confirms Sept. 28 for NTTD world premiere

Eon Productions, through its official James Bond Twitter account, confirmed No Time to Die’s world premiere will be Sept. 28 at Royal Albert Hall in London.

“The World Premiere for #NoTimeToDie will take place on Tuesday 28 September 2021 at London’s @RoyalAlbertHall. Producers Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and director Cary Joji Fukunaga will join Daniel Craig on the red carpet,” the tweet read. There was also an announcement on Eon’s official James Bond site.

The date of the premiere had appeared previously on a ticket site. The announcement comes as the release of the 25th James Bond movie has been delayed to November in Australia and New Zealand because of COVID-19.

The announcement, though, marks an end to global postponements for the film. No Time to Die has been delayed five times from its original release date of fall 2019.

Here is what the tweet version of the announcement looked like:

Eon says (again) it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon in November 2011

Eon Productions has said, yet again, it’s not interested in James Bond spinoffs such as streaming TV versions of 007-related characters.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the half-siblings atop Eon, spoke to Total Film (it’s not clear this is from a previous Total Film interview or a new one), which was posted online by Games Radar.

“We make films. We make films for the cinema. That’s what we do,” Broccoli, 61 and the daughter of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, told Total Film.

 “We’ve resisted that call for 60 years,” added Wilson, 79 and stepson of Albert R. Broccoli.

Amazon, which airs original streaming programming, has agreed to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, in a deal valued at $8.45 billion. The acquisition is pending, subject to regulatory review, including an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Wilson has been involved full-time in the Bond franchise since 1972. Barbara Broccoli has been active full-time since 1982. Both had Bond-related activities (Wilson as a Goldfinger extra, Barbara Broccoli writing captions for publicity stills for The Spy Who Loved Me) before their full-time involvement.

It also doesn’t appear the Eon leaders have thought that much about Bond 26.

“It’s tough to think about the future until this film has its moment,” Barbara Broccoli told Total Film. “I think we just really want to celebrate this (No Time to Die) and celebrate Daniel, and then when the dust settles, then look at the landscape and figure out what the future is.” No Time to Die is the fifth and final Bond movie for star Daniel Craig.

No Time to Die’s world premiere is scheduled for Sept. 28 and its U.K. release on Sept. 30. The 25th James Bond film is scheduled to debut in the U.S. on Oct. 8.

UPDATE: Jack Lugo of James Bond Radio reminds me that Eon was deeply involved with the syndicated James Bond Jr. cartoon show of the early 1990s. The title character was James Bond’s nephew. Michael G. Wilson shared a “developed by” credit on that cartoon series.

UPDATE II: Here’s a screen shot from the end titles of the first episode of James Bond Jr.

Bond 21-25 questions: Assessing the Craig era edition

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

The Daniel Craig era of the James Bond films is drawing to a close. A thoughtful reader drew my attention to an August 2020 article by the Screen Rant site assessing Craig’s tenure.

Still, until No Time to Die comes out, there’s only so far you can go. Or is that correct? Naturally, the blog has questions.

Was the Craig era really that different? Absolutely.

Ian Fleming’s Bond novels referenced how his creation had relationships with married women. In the Eon film series, M lists “jealous husbands” as a possibility for hiring $1 million-a-hit-assassin Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun. But 2006’s Casino Royale was more explicit.

Anything else? The tone often was more violent, in particular a killing Bond performs early in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Quantum also had a more political point of view courtesy of director Marc Forster.

Did the Craig era follow earlier Bond films in any way? Yes. The Craig films, like earlier Eon Bond entries, adapted to popular trends in cinema.

In the 1970s, Bond films followed blaxploitation movies (Live And Let Die), kung fu (The Man With the Golden Gun) and science fiction (Moonraker).

In the 21st century Craig movies, the series followed Jason Bourne films (Quantum, including hiring a Bourne second unit director), Christopher Nolan Batman movies (Skyfall) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (SPECTRE, moving to tie all of the Craig adventures together).

Anything else? Some Bond fans argue Craig is the best film James Bond. No Time to Die (apparently) is the final chapter. No doubt there will be more debate once No Time to Die can be viewed.

Bond 25 questions: The FOE edition

One of Many No Time to Die posters

No Time to Die finished production in the fall of 2019. But the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions still isn’t out. The blog has a few questions.

What is FOE? It stands for Friends of Eon. It refers to those who, essentially, say that Eon Productions, the makers of Bond films, can do no wrong.

What does this have to do with No Time to Die? Some James Bond fans suspect star Daniel Craig, the incumbent film Bond first cast in the fall of 2005, and Eon wanted to take a break, which has contributed to long hiatus between SPECTRE (2015) and the present.

So? Well, a recent article from Total Film suggests there’s something to this.

An example from Total Film:

Craig “was so exhausted after” 2015’s SPECTRE “recalls Barbara Broccoli, daughter of Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli who, alongside her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, runs Eon Productions, and has produced every Bond film since 1995’s GoldenEye. “We’d had our own trials and tribulations on Spectre, and [Daniel] had a massive injury. It was very difficult. So he just needed some time.” While Craig was taking his break, Eon worked on movies such as The Rhythm Section (2020).

Members of FOE over the past several years, chided Bond fans who had reached similar conclusions. (A comment along these lines would begin: “People like you…”)

Yet, if Broccoli’s comments in the Total Film article can be taken at face value, those conclusions were on target. At least, they weren’t off target.

Shouldn’t bygones be bygones? That’s not how members of FOE looked at it once upon a time.

What are you suggesting? Nothing dramatic. Let’s see what No Time to Die actually looks like when it comes out. At the same time, perhaps members of FOE shouldn’t assume a special expertise. Hopefully in fewer than 70 days Bond fans will have a chance to view the new Bond film.

Bond 25 questions: The marketing gears up (again) edition

A slightly tweaked No Time to Die poster

A (not-so-new) 30-second promotional No Time to Die video surfaced online on July 26. So this would seem to be a sign that, once more, the marketing for the 25th James Bond film is starting to gear up.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Is this a surprise? Not really. If a movie really is coming out for a Sept. 30 release in the U.K. and October elsewhere, it figures it would be starting up around now.

Prior to this week’s video, Bond fans have taken selfies in front of No Time to Die standees at their local theaters. And a tweaked poster emerged recently saying “Only in Theaters October” along with a new MGM font that’s part of a makeover of the company’s Leo the Lion logo.

Is there much new? A 30-second promo doesn’t give you a lot of time. I did see some eagle-eyed analysis by @ShotsBond saying some shots of the DB5 replicas are new. Also, @marketto spotted how a Maserati logo was removed digitally from a henchman’s car compared with previous trailers. (Maserati not being among the car companies involved with the Bond film.)

Is this something to be excited about? Many fans definitely are. But when a movie has been delayed five times (twice related to hiring and then departure of original director Danny Boyle, three times because of COVID-19), there is a natural hesitancy for some. With COVID, there are vaccines but there are also new variants.

Either way, it is something new Bond-related to talk about until the film’s marketing gears up further.

Here’s the video:

De Armas says her Bond woman is — wait for it — different

Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas as photographed by The Hollywood Reporter

Ana de Armas is featured in a July 20 story by Harper’s Bazaar. Most of the article deals with beauty products and hair styling. But she also took some time to say her No Time to Die character is a different Bond woman.

Veteran Bond fans might find this similar to talking points of other James Bond films. But judge for yourself in this excerpt.

“Paloma is actually a really complete character. Cary [Joji Fukunaga, director] created her from zero and he asked me if I wanted to do it. It was very appealing from the very beginning, when he was telling me what he was going to do with the character. I was very excited, and I did feel like she was different, unique. She’s definitely something else that I don’t think we’ve seen in other Bond girls in previous movies. She’s a lot of fun – very active, very badass!” (emphasis added)

This, of course, has been an Eon Productions talking point for decades. Various actresses have said the same thing about their Bond woman characters. And Barbara Broccoli, the boss at Eon, has said much the same thing over the years.

What’s more, de Armas’ remarks aren’t surprising given trailers like this one where she’s fighting and firing automatic weapons in trailers like the one below.

Competing spy franchises make the rounds at the British GP

Tom Cruise

Representatives of the Mission: Impossible and James Bond film franchises made the rounds at today’s British Grand Prix.

M:I’s star-producer Tom Cruise, 59, was present to root on eventual winner Lewis Hamilton. The F-1 telecast periodically cut to the Mercedes team where Cruise could be seen wearing a mask. The Express and the The Sun (among others) had accounts of Cruise’s day.

Also present was actress Naomie Harris, 44, who plays Moneypenny in the Bond films and acts as unofficial ambassador for the Bond films. The official 007 Twitter feed of Eon Productions took note.

Bond 25 questions: The Total Film edition

One of the many No Time to Die posters

This post includes spoilers. Stop reading now if spoilers aren’t your thing.

Total Film this week published a detailed story about No Time to Die. Naturally, the blog has questions

Did Daniel Craig really say No Time to Die’s theme was “love and family”?

He did. Sounds almost like a Fast and the Furious movie, doesn’t it? In this case, Craig told Total Film that Bond’s family is Moneypenny, M and Q with Lashana Lynch’s Nomi “a distant cousin who you’re not sure about.”

One of the most hyped aspects of the movie was how Phoebe Waller-Bridge was among the screenwriters. Any additional details?

Of course. “Phoebe came on, and she injected some brilliance into the situation, and a tone I was really after,” Craig told Total Film.

“What we wanted to do was… not ridicule (Bond). It’s sharing in the fun with the audience,” Craig told the magazine. “But you’ve got to be respectful of what it is.” 

According to Total Film, Waller-Bridge “punched up Ana de Armas’ character Paloma – a fresh-faced CIA field agent who Bond crosses paths with in Cuba – and brought a myth-pricking irreverence to the story.”

What about agent Nomi and her relationship with Bond?

“Bond is going to be Bond no matter what happens,” Lashana Lynch told Total Film. “But it’s about how people react to him. That’s the difference between the earlier films. In this film we are vocal. We are opinionated. We know how to stop [Bond] in his tracks, and to teach him something.”

What about the sets?

“We have really gone out of our way to make some really gorgeous big sets,” says production designer Mark Tildesley. The designer originally was recruited to the film by Danny Boyle, the project’s first director who departed over “creative differences.”

What about Rami Malek’s Safin?

“Safin is pulling all the strings,” Eon boss Barbara Broccoli told Total Film about the character. “He’s controlling all of those megalomaniacs out there. He’s created them.”

What does that mean?

I suppose that in Quantum of Solace that Quantum was BIG. In SPECTRE, SPECTRE was BIGGER. Perhaps Safin is EVEN BIGGER!