Long-term issues confronting the 007 franchise

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Here are some long-term issues confronting the James Bond film franchise that extend beyond purchased helicopters or even the next 007 film (whenever it comes out).

MGM needs to get bigger or sell out: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, is in a no man’s land in Hollywood.

It’s not big enough to release it’s own movies. In fact, it’s more of a television production company than an actual studio. What few movies it makes annually require cutting deal with another studio to distribute. The last four 007 films were released by Sony, with other MGM projects released by other studios.

Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., has agreed to be acquired by AT&T. If that deal receives U.S. regulatory approval (not a sure thing), other deals may result.

That leaves MGM to decide whether it’s present strategy is adequate. If a new wave of deals develops, MGM probably has to move one way or another — get bigger or sell off to a buyer.

Eon’s succession plan: Eon is a private outfit that doesn’t discuss such subjects. Maybe it has one, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, it needs a succession plan if it doesn’t have one.

Michael G. Wilson, one of the Eon principals, turned 75 last month. His half-sister, Barbara Broccoli, is only 56. But, as the saying goes, nobody lives forever.

Perhaps Gregg Wilson, one of Wilson’s sons who has been working on recent films, is being groomed to take more responsibility once his father retires. At this point, nobody really knows.

Is it time for new marketing ideas? There are recurring themes in marketing Bond films over the past two decades.

One of the most repeated is having the lead female actor talk about his character is Bond’s equal. It was uttered most recently by actress Lea Seydoux in an interview with Empire magazine in early 2015.

We get it. Bond women are now strong and independent. Maybe it’s time to come up new marketing points. Strong women in Bond films are now a given.

Promo about SPECTRE’s London locations released

The VISIT BRITAIN website has put out a promotional video concerning London locations used by SPECTRE.

A number of crew members for the 24th James Bond film appear, including director Sam Mendes and associate producer Gregg Wilson. The short video appears below.

First behind-the-scenes SPECTRE video released

SPECTRE LOGO

The first behind-the-scenes video for SPECTRE has been posted, mostly showing the crew preparing to film an action sequence in Austria.

One of crew members commenting in the short video is associate producer Gregg Wilson, son of Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions. The younger Wilson has been working his way up the chain of command over the past decade. He had the title of assistant producer on 2008’s Quantum of Solace and was promoted to associate producer in Skyfall.

There are also brief comments by cast members Lea Seydoux and Dave Bautista. Star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes are briefly seen.

The video is self explanatory and doesn’t have spoilers, except for those who don’t want to see anything before the movie comes out. If you fall in that category, don’t view the video below.

Questions about a (possible) Nolan-directed 007 film

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan's production company

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

WARNING: This is very much putting the cart before the horse. Nobody has said Christopher Nolan *will* direct Bond 24. The U.K. Daily Mail has reported only that the director has been *approached* about the job. Bear all that in mind before reading the following.

This week, the Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K. reported that Christopher Nolan, director of three Batman movies from 2005 through 2012, had been “approached” about directing Bond 24.

The writer, Baz Bagimboye, had a number of scoops about Skyfall, the most recent 007 movie, that proved to be correct. So, it got the attention of a lot of fans. If Nolan eventually signs on the dotted line, it raises a number of questions about Bond 24. Among them:

1. What happens to writer John Logan? Logan was brought in by director Sam Mendes to rewrite Skyfall. Eon Productions originally announced that Peter Morgan would collaborate with scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Eventually, Morgan left without getting a screen credit. But Logan evidently impressed somebody because he was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25 while Purvis and Wade departed the series.

But things can change, as Morgan can attest. Christopher Nolan is fond of writing his own movies, either by himself (Inception) or collaborating with his brother Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer (the three Batman movies or the upcoming Man of Steel, which was produced by Nolan). If Nolan comes aboard, will Logan stay or go?

2. Do other members of Nolan’s posse also participate? Nolan has a production company, Syncopy. That logo ended up being featured at the start of the third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, along with the logos of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Ditto for Man of Steel. The Syncopy group includes Emma Thomas, a producer who’s married to Nolan, and Charles Roven, another producer. Also, Nolan frequently collaborates with Wally Pfister as director of photography. Pfister is directing Transcendence a movie scheduled for a 2014 release.

While Eon may be interested in Nolan’s services as a director, would it also hire Nolan-affiliated producers such as Thomas and Roven? Eon, led by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, has its own group of supporting producers, including Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael. On the other hand, Eon has probably would be open to hiring Pfister. That would be similar to Skyfall, where Roger Deakins was brought on as director of photography because Mendes wanted him.

3. Would Hans Zimmer be the newest 007 composer? Zimmer also works frequently with Nolan. Again, that’s a situation similar to Skyfall, where Thomas Newman was hired as composer because of his relationship with Mendes. A Zimmer-scored Bond 24 might be similar to Skyfall in other ways. Mendes said that Nolan’s The Dark Knight from 2008 influenced the 2012 007 movie. Some tracks of Newman’s score (particularly the Shanghai sequences and the action sequences at the Macao casino) sounded similar to Zimmer’s music for Nolan’s Batman films.

4. What would the running time of a Nolan-directed Bond 24 be? Probably not short. Batman Begins was 140 minutes, The Dark Knight was 152 minutes, Inception was 148 minutes and The Dark Knight Rises was a whopping 165 minutes.

UPDATE (May 22): The Latinos Post Web site has a short article about actresses Nolan has cast in various movies and whether they could become part of the cast of a Nolan-directed Bond 24.

MI6 Confidential’s new issue looks at Skyfall

mi6no19

MI6 Confidential’s new issue with a look at Skyfall that includes an interviews with two of its screenwriters as well as the son of Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson.

Here’s an excerpt from the magazine’s WEB SITE:

Whilst pundits’ predictions of Skyfall’s success definitely rang true, the 23rd Bond adventure surely surpassed even the most optimistic auspices, both in terms of substance, and box office success. This issue celebrates that success, with a look at the global promotion and Royal World Premiere, and we turn back the clock to pre-production as screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade describe the genesis of the Skyfall screenplay in an exclusive interview.

Purvis and Wade, after a five-film 007 run, have said they’re departing the series. From The World Is Not Enough through Skyfall, they’ve done the early drafts of Bond scripts with (for the most part) other writers revising their work.

Also interviewed is Gregg Wilson, whose first name matches his father’s middle name. The younger Wilson has been working his way up the Eon chain. His named appeared as a byline of a magazine story that Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is reading about Gustav Graves in 2002’s Die Another Day. By Quantum of Solace, he had a real credit in the main titles as assistant producer. For Skyfall, he carried the title of associate producer.

The new issue also has a story about Judi Dench, who concluded a 17-year as M and a feature about Naomie Harris, whose agent Eve turned out to be the new Miss Moneypenny at the end of Skyfall.

For more information about contents and ordering, CLICK HERE. The price is 7 British pounds, $11 or 8.50 euros depending on where you live.

Skyfall’s credit oddities

Bérénice (Lim) Marlohe, unable to solve the mystery of the different Skyfall poster and movie credits, has a sip of Jameson’s.

So, Skyfall has been out for a few weeks and is about to become the highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time. But there are a couple of oddities that nobody has explained and, to be honest, almost no fans are talking about.

What are those? The odd differences in credits between the movie poster for the 23rd James Bond movie and the main titles of the film itself.

Exhibit A: Actress Berenice Marlohe. Or is it actress Berenice Lim Marlohe?

On the poster and regular advertisements (such as the one on page C13 of the national edition of The New York Times on Nov. 16), she’s billed as Berenice Marlohe. But, in the main titles designed by Daniel Kleinman, she is listed as Berenice Lim Marlohe. During the publicity buildup to Skyfall, she was also listed as Berenice Marlohe. Most people didn’t know she had a middle name until they saw the movie.

Exhibit B: the different film editing credit between movie poster and movie.

On the poster, it’s “STUART BAIRD A.C.E.” (That’s American Cinema Editors to you civilians.) The movie? Something a bit different. It says “Editors” (plural) and lists Stuart Baird in BIG LETTERS with a second name, Kate Baird in small letters.

Kate Baird’s IMDB.com entry doesn’t list any specific relationship to 65-year-old Stuart Baird. Kate Baird was also as assistant editor on 2006’s Casino Royale, where Stuart Baird was the editor.

Meanwhile, this arrangement in the main titles seems to be something of a first for the Bond series. A number of 007 films has two or three credited film editors (Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun and Quantum of Solace among them). But with those 007 films, the name of the editors were all in the same size of type.

So, did Kate Baird do more work than an assistant editor (thus meriting a place in the main titles) but perform substantially less than Stuart Baird (thus accounting for her name being smaller)? While this is trivial, agents spends lots of time and effort negotiating these details concerning the credits of major movies.

One final note, that’s not an oddity but is worth mentioning. Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael G. Wilson, the 70-year-old co-boss of Eon Productions, got a promotion on Skyfall. The younger Wilson’s title on Quantum of Solace was assistant producer (his on-screen credit appeared with four other credits) while it was associate producer on Skyfall (sharing the screen with only one other name).

Presumably, this is an indication Gregg Wilson is positioning himself among the next generation of the Wilson-Broccoli clan for a bigger role in the future.

007 questions for 2010

001. Who ends up buying MGM? The studio is partners with Eon Productions in the James Bond franchise. The uncertainty in MGM’s financial future put a stop to writing efforts on Bond 23 until February, according to screenwriter Peter Morgan. So whether a 007 fan cares about business news, this is one financial story that has an impact on Bond fans.

002. Is the current delay in scripting Bond 23 just a speedbump en route to a 2011 release or could it be the start of more delays? This question obviously is related to 001. Still Bond fans have been here before: the 1989-1995 hiatus, which involved Eon suing MGM (which had been bought by an owner that Eon felt was making cheap deals to sell rights to TV showings of 007 films) and the 2002-2006 break that involved the firing of the series’ star and a rethinking about the series’ direction.

003. Will Eon actually get non-007 movies to the screen? Technically speaking, Call Me Bwana is the only non-Bond film that’s an official Eon-made film. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while produced by Albert R. Broccoli and using many Bond crew veterans, was not an Eon-made film and Harry Saltzman’s various non-Bond films of the 1960s and later weren’t made through Eon, either.

Eon says it’s developing movie versions of A Steady Rain, the minimalist play that recently starred Daniel Craig, and Remote Control. Of course, Eon also had developed a Jinx movie based on the character Halle Berry played in Die Another Day and nothing came of that.

004. Is Eon mentoring eventual successors to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli? Wilson is now 66 and more than once has talked about how exhausting movies are to make. Barbara Broccoli turns 50 in 2010, younger than her father was when he and Saltzman made Dr. No. Both had lengthy training to take the Eon reins. Gregg Wilson, one of Michael’s sons, was listed as assistant producer in Quantum of Solace. It’ll be interesting to see if the younger Wilson becomes more prominent at Eon or not.

005. Assuming the answers to 001 and 002 fall on the optimstic side, would Bond 23 use a Fleming title? There aren’t many left but then again a lot of fans may not have thought they’d use Quantum of Solace, either.

006. Assuming a 2011 release, who would direct Bond 23? Related question: will it be a director who uses as shaky a camera as Marc Forster did in Quantum?

007. Are there any plans for Ian Fleming Publications to do another 007 continuation novel? We haven’t heard much since IFP came out with the heavily promoted Devil May Care in 2008. Over at Commander Bond.net, there have been reports there may be a new Young Bond novel in 2011.