Bond 25 questions: The score edition

New No Time to Die poster

It’s still a long way off before people can see No Time to Die. But thanks to an interview with Variety, composer Hans Zimmer has provided the blog with some questions to ask about the movie’s score.

Should the title card read, “Music by Steve Mazzaro and Hans Zimmer”?

Well if you take Zimmer at his word, maybe yes.

Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film,” Zimmer told Variety.

Mazzaro is one of the composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company. In the interview, Zimmer said he asked No Time to Die producer Barbara Broccoli “if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time.”

Was Zimmer perhaps just being polite?

Maybe yes, maybe no. One way Zimmer manages to do so many film scores is by enlisting the help of other composers.

On some films, Zimmer gets the primary “music by” credit while other Remote Control composers get secondary “additional music by” credits. Examples: Man of Steel, Dunkirk, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.

On still other films, such as Batman v Superman and Blade Runner 2049, Zimmer actually shares the “music by” credit.

Regardless, in addition to Mazzaro, other Remote Control composers who’ve helped out Zimmer include Junkie XL and Lorne Balfe. The latter got the gig to score Mission: Impossible-Fallout and is slated to score the next two M:I movies.

Anything else in that interview catch your eye?

Zimmer’s quote about how “there was very little time” is worth noting. Eon was trying to meet an April release date before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down movie theaters.

Zimmer (and Mazzaro) replaced Dan Romer, who had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on other projects. Since Skyfall, Eon Productions has generally deferred the choice of composer to the directors of Bond films. No Time to Die initially seemed to continue that pattern until Romer’s departure.

A common fan theory is that Romer produced a score deemed too extreme. Meanwhile, Eon had worked with Zimmer and Mazzaro on The Rhythm Section (Mazzaro as composer, Zimmer as music producer, with the latter getting top billing on the music title card).

Zimmer suggests his NTTD co-composer did a lot of work

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer, the lead composer on No Time to Die, suggests in a new interview with Variety that his assistant composer did a fair amount of work on the 25th James Bond film.

Zimmer told Variety of how he was approached by producer Barbara Broccoli about scoring the movie.

“And I asked her if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time,” Zimmer said. “And of course she said yes. Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film. I hope we’ve done it justice.” (emphasis added).

Mazzaro scored The Rhythm Section, the non-Bond spy film that Eon produced, which was released by Paramount in January. Zimmer was the producer of that movie’s soundtrack. Zimmer and Mazzaro shared the music title card, with Zimmer getting top billing.

Mazzaro also is one of the composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company.

In the Variety interview, Zimmer also discussed recruiting guitarist Johnny Marr to perform on No Time to Die.

Zimmer replaced Dan Romer as the composer for No Time to Die. Zimmer’s name is on No Time to Die posters that include credits but Mazzaro’s is not.

The article examines other movie projects Zimmer is working on. You can view it by CLICKING HERE.

Zimmer associate Balfe to score M:I 7-8

Tom Cruise

Lorne Balfe, one of Hans Zimmer’s group of Remote Control composers, will score Mission: Impossible 7 and 8, Film Music Reporter said.

The website cited the newest episode of the Light the Fuse podcast.

Balfe scored 2018’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout, the most recent M:I film starring and produced by Tom Cruise.

Balfe is one of more than 60 composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control company.

Another Remote Control composer is Steve Mazzaaro, who scored the non-Bond spy film The Rhythm Section produced by Eon Productions. On The Rhythm Section, Zimmer got the lead music credit for producing the music while Mazzaro had the secondary credit position for actually writing the music.

Mazzaro is assistant composer on No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film where Zimmer is lead composer.

No surprise: NTTD soundtrack delayed

No Time to Die character poster

Hardly a surprise but the Decca Records website has been updated to show that the No Time to Die soundtrack has been delayed to Nov. 13.

On March 4, the release date of the 25th James Bond film was pushed back to Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the United States.

Originally, the soundtrack was to have come out around the same time as the movie’s original release date of early April. The world premiere had been set for March 31.

Initially, the soundtrack listing didn’t change its date, leading some fans to hope (against hope, as it turns out) that would remain the case.

No such luck. The score for the film was composed by Hans Zimmer, with additional music by Steve Mazzaro, one of the 64 composers (the total went up by one recently) involved with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company.

h/t @antovolk

New No Time to Die poster is out

A new No Time to Die poster is out today. It includes credits and a few things leaped out.

— Ana de Armas isn’t referenced among the cast. She is a rising star and has drawn a fair amount of publicity. Fans have suspected she has a small part and this may be a confirmation.

— Daniel Craig is again credited as a co-producer, as he was in SPECTRE. Personally, I was wondering if he might get promoted to executive producer but that’s not the case.

— The writing credit matches a Jan. 21 entry in a Writers Guild of America East database. The writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, director Cary Fukunaga and scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge all get some form of writing credit. Scott Z. Burns, once hailed as coming in to save the script, is out man out.

— Hans Zimmer gets a “music by” credit. Presumably, that means that Steve Mazzaro, who has assisted Zimmer, will get an “additional music” credit (probably in the end titles).

The version below was tweeted out by UIPSA, which distributes Universal and Paramount films in South Africa. Universal is handling international distribution of No Time to Die.

The official @007 account on Twitter also had a tweet about the poster. But that version had no credits at the bottom.

UPDATE (4:20 p.m. New York time): A separate e-mailed release has a longer cast list. Ana de Armas is listed with Rory Kinnear, Dali Bessalah, David Dencik, and Billy Magnussen.

New No Time to Die poster

Finneas O’Connell discusses origins of NTTD song

Finneas O’Connell, older brother and collaborator of Billie Eilish

Finneas O’Connell, co-writer of the No Time to Die title song with his sister Billie Eilish, described the creative process in an interview with GQ.

“We wrote No Time to Die on a tour bus. Specifically, in the bunks of our tour bus,” told the magazine.

“We were given the first 20 pages of the script. I guess that’s up to the point when the song comes in during the movie, right? That’s how all the Bond films open up.

“So we were able to read the first 20 pages, which was obviously incredible. It gave us such a good steer and such insight into where the song would fall, and the tone. It makes it easier than having to write the whole song based on the entire movie; or in fact none of the movie.”

That sounds like the duo read the script’s pre-titles sequence. The general rule of thumb is that one page of script equals about one minute of screen time.

That suggests the pre-titles sequence may run about 20 minutes, although no one will know for sure until editing of the movie is complete.

O’Connell described what happened next.

“So Billie and I wrote the song, recorded the demo, sent it to them and then we finished it in London with Hans Zimmer doing the orchestral arrangements and also Johnny Marr from The Smiths,” he said. “I mean, James Bond? Hans Zimmer? Johnny Marr? Mind blowing.”

The interview covers other subjects. You can read the interview by CLICKING HERE.

Bond 25 questions: The Rhythm Section/Super Bowl edition

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Separate events over the weekend — the debut of a non-Bond Eon film and a Super Bowl spot for No Time to Die — have generated some questions at the blog.

Are these events related?

Yes, in one respect.

The Rhythm Section and No Time to Die will have music from the same group.

The music credit for The Rhythm Section says the score was “produced by” Hans Zimmer while the music was by Steve Mazzaro, a composer affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions.

After the No Time to Die commercial aired on the Super Bowl, Zimmer put out a tweet that said, the spot “doesn’t have my music (still working on it with my friend Steve Mazzaro!) but you’ll hear what we come up with soon.”

So, Zimmer is working with Mazzaro on No Time to Die. Meanwhile, Mazzaro’s score for The Rhythm Section sounds very much like the Zimmer-credited scores for Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. BROOOOOOMMMMM!

Are you saying No Time to Die’s score will sound like that?

Not necessarily. But the Mazzaro (channeling Zimmer) score for The Rhythm Section didn’t break new ground. We’ll have to see what the duo come up with for No Time to Die.

What was new in the Super Bowl spot?

Actually, quite a lot. There were a few shots that appeared in the trailer released in December. But there was new material, including Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Lashana Lynch in an unusual aircraft.

That plane looked similar (but larger) compared with the mini jet seen in the pre-titles sequence in 1983’s Octopussy. The idea originally was in the first draft script of Moonraker where Bond and Holly Goodhead flew his and her mini jets.

What happened with The Rhythm Section’s box office?

The Paramount-released movie was not just a flop. It was a historic flop. It had the lowest box office (not adjusted for inflation) of any movie opening with more than 3,000 screens. The Rhythm Section broke a 14-year record in that regard.

Deadline: Hollywood published a story over the weekend about various things that went wrong, including test screenings that went over badly, financing issues and behind-the-scenes disagreements.

Movies with more problems have been hits. If Deadline is to be believed, there was a lot of bad luck involved for The Rhythm Section. Regardless, the numbers are the numbers. Numbers can be very unforgiving.

REVIEW: The Rhythm Section (2020)

A poster for The Rhythm Section

With The Rhythm Section, Eon Productions wanted to show what it could do with the spy genre without James Bond.

In terms of craftsmanship, it’s a respectable effort. The photography is good. The actors give it their all. Director Reed Morano shows off multiple locations. The movie also runs less than two hours, almost a rarity these days.

But when it comes to connecting with the audience, not so much.

Blake Lively’s lead character, Stephanie Patrick, has lost her family after an aircraft crash. She has fallen apart, becoming a drug-addicted prostitute.

Patrick finds out the truth and becomes an avenging angel, diving deep into the world of international espionage and terrorism. She goes after one of her targets by pretending to be a prostitute.

The point is to show a diamond in the rough and what she had to accomplish. Stephanie Patrick is more Jason Bourne than James Bond, and a not very confident (at least at first) Bourne figure at that.

By the end of the film, Patrick has become the new Bourne. She evens things out. She’s ready for new adventures by the end of the movie.

Still, it’d be better if there were more audience investment in Patrick’s story.

Some of Eon’s Bond mainstays show up behind the camera. Chris Corbould, a long-time special effects wizard for the Bond series, is present as second unit director, for example.

Hans Zimmer did not do the score. But he gets the first music credit for producing the score. Steve Mazzaro, one of the composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions, gets the actual “music by” credit.

Nevertheless, parts of the movie’s score resembles Zimmer’s work on Christopher Nolan-directed movies. Zimmer has been announced as composer for No Time to Die, Eon’s newest Bond film.

An anecdote: I was the third person to buy a ticket at my theater for the first showing of The Rhythm Section on Thursday night. One of the two people who bought tickets before me stopped as the end titles were playing.

“It wasn’t so good, was it?” she said.

Not so much. GRADE: C.

NTTD title song took a year to sell, co-writer says

Finneas O’Connell, older brother and writing collaborator of Billie Eilish

It took about a year to sell Eon Productions on the idea of a James Bond title song performed by Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell, who co-wrote the No Time to Die song with his sister, said in an interview with Billboard.

“We fought it out for a year,” O’Connell said in the interview. “We’ve always wanted to write a James Bond theme song. And you know, it’s a legendary franchise, so we had to convince a lot of people that we were the right choice.”

The interview was about O’Connell’s career with in general. But there were details about No Time to Die. O’Connor described the selection process.

“And then we had to write a song that everybody liked,” he said. “So it was a hard-won process. But everybody that we worked with on it, Barbara Broccoli, the producer of the Bond franchise (alongside Michael G. Wilson), we got to work with Hans Zimmer… it was a real joy.”

O’Connell reflected on the publicity about last week’s announcement concerning the No Time to Die title song.

“But uh, yeah, it’s so funny, ’cause some of the headlines have been like, ‘Billie Eilish and Finneas are writing the James Bond theme.’ And I’m so glad we’re no longer writing it — I’m so glad we wrote it a couple months ago, because, oh my god, if it was like, announced that we were doing it and we still had to write it, I would have such writer’s anxiety, you know?”

O’Connell described the ups and downs involved.

“It’s, in my experience, in my limited experience, as a songwriter and producer, it’s the hardest playing field I’ve never been on. … There were so many points where I was like, ‘I don’t know, maybe we don’t have this!’ (Laughs.) Like, it’s just like such a big deal. And you know … the whole pairing is very authentic to my and Billie’s relationship with those movies.”

Billie Eislish talks briefly about No Time to Die

Billie Eilish talked briefly about No Time to Die in a video interview, indicating she has worked on the movie’s title song for “a couple of months.”

Eilish told ALT 98.7 FM she was contacted about the Bond song “a while ago…It was a crazy call and a crazy last couple of months.”

The singer also said she was excited to have the gig. “Bond is so dope, it really is,” she said. “It’s like the coolest movie franchise in the world.”

Eilish said she’s “working on it with Hans” Zimmer but didn’t go into detail. Eilish is co-writing the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell.

Separately, The Guardian, a sister publication of The Observer, ran a feature story on Eilish.

The story includes  this quote from Popjustice founder Peter Robinson: “She’s not Shirley Bassey. There’s a real power in the understatement of her music. When one of her songs comes on the radio, it sounds like some alien transmission has taken over Capital or Radio 1.”

The video interview is embedded below. The No Time to Die discussion starts around the 1:50 mark.