Bond 25 questions: The composer edition

Hans Zimmer title card from Inception (2010),

Thanks to Variety (but still not announced), the word is out that Hans Zimmer is working on the score for No Time to Die. Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is it Zimmer or Hans Zimmer & Co.?

Hans Zimmer runs a company called Remote Control Productions. It has more than 60 affiliated composers. On a number of films (Dunkirk, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises and Inception), Zimmer gets sole “music by” credit while of the Remote Control Productions composers get an “additional music” credit.

Those other composers have included Lorne Balfe and Junkie XL. The number of additional music composers varies from project to project.

On other occasions, including Blade Runner 2049 and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zimmer has shared the main “music by” credit with another one of the Remote Control Productions composers. Benjamin Wallifisch shared the credit with Zimmer on Blade Runner 2049 while Junkie XL shared the Batman v Superman music credit.

How long has Zimmer been working on No Time to Die?

The MI6 James Bond website, in a story early today, said it “understands that orchestral sessions are currently being recorded” for the new Bond film. Mr. Obvious observation: That sounds like the score has been written, or at least partly written.

What happened to Dan Romer?

The Variety story said “creative differences” without providing more details. News that Romer was initially hired to score No Time to Die surfaced last year. He was listed in the crew in an August press release issued primarily because of the title reveal.

Presumably, Romer’s work didn’t please Eon Productions in some way. Meanwhile, Eon has been working with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions for its upcoming non-Bond spy film The Rhythm Section. Zimmer is listed as executive music producer.

Why don’t they bring David Arnold back?

Arnold composed scores for five Bond films and is a fan favorite. But starting with Skyfall, Eon Productions has — at least initially — hired a composer chosen by the director.

Sam Mendes wanted Thomas Newman and got him. Romer had worked on some previous projects of No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga.

In the end, any composer is a hired hand when it comes to the family-run Bond films. Marvin Hamlisch got two Oscar nominations for The Spy Who Loved Me but was never asked back into Bondage.

The Rhythm Section: Clues for NTTD’s score?

No Time to Die teaser poster

We still don’t know about how No Time To Die’s score will turn out. But it’s perhaps worth a look at another spy adventure being produced by Eon Productions.

The Rhythm Section is scheduled to be released by Paramount at the end of January.

According to the movie’s IMDB.com entry, the composer will be Steve Mazzaro. He is among more than 60 composers affiliated with Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company.

The Rhythm Section’s music credits also include Zimmer as “executive music producer” and Lorne Balfe as providing “additional music.” Balfe is another Zimmer-affiliated composer who also did the score for Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

Eon previously said Dan Romer, who worked with NTTD director Cary Fukunaga on some projects, was going to score the 25th James Bond film.

Romer apparently has departed the project. But that hasn’t been confirmed by Eon.

Some Bond fan sites have said Zimmer’s Remote Control company may be involved with No Time To Die. Regardless, Zimmer’s company is involved with Eon’s The Rhythm Section.

We’ll see if all this turns out to be a factor for No Time to Die.

What we know (and don’t know) about NTTD’s music

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

(Corrects to note Dan Romer listed in August press release.)

One of the main unanswered questions about No Time to Die is who will do the music. There’s been a lot of smoke but no definite answers.

So, here’s a recap.

1. IndieWire reported July 2 that Dan Romer had the job. The same day, Romer put out a tweet thanking IndieWire and said he was “very excited for this year.”

2. An August press release about the title No Time to Die lists Romer as composer.

3. The James Bond Radio fan website on Nov. 1 says it has heard Romer has departed the project. But the website also says to take the development with a grain of salt. Romer’s Twitter account is of no help. Its last post was on Sept. 6.

4. David Arnold, a five-time Bond film composer (and a fan favorite), says Dec. 4 on Twitter he hasn’t been approached about working on No Time to Die. “I can sit back and enjoy it with everyone else,” he writes.

5. Anton Volkov, founder of TrailerTrack (@antovolk), posts a Dec. 27 tweet saying “there’s some smoke” that someone affiliated with Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions may be doing the No Time to Die’s score.

One of the sources is a message board at Zimmer’s website. The site administrator reportedly is close to Zimmer.

6. One question is whether we’re talking about Zimmer himself or another composer affiliated with his Remote Control Productions company. For background about Remote Control, CLICK HERE to view a 2014 story by Variety.

7. James Bond Radio comes back with a Dec. 28 tweet saying it doesn’t know who the composer is, just that it’s not Zimmer but “one of his guys” at Remote Control. The tweet includes a link to composers affiliated with Remote Control.

One of the 63 composers shown on the Zimmer website page is Tom Holkenborg, known professionally as Junkie XL. Holkenborg and Zimmer shared the composer credit for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Holkenborg was supposed to score 2017′ Justice League but got replaced by Danny Elfman.

Another one of the Remote Control composers is Lorne Balfe, the credited composer for 2018′ Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

UPDATE (10:15 a.m., New York time, Dec. 29): On Dec. 25, Film Music Reporter had a story about Dan Romer’s latest project, Wendy. It does not list No Time to Die as among Romer’s credits. h/t MI6 James Bond website, which mentioned in a story.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout: A film Bruce Geller might love

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

As I watched Mission: Impossible-Fallout, I kept wondering what M:I creator Bruce Geller would think. My guess: I think he would approve.

The best episodes of the original 1966-73 series featured slick plans devised by Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). While the plans were brilliantly devised, the Impossible Missions Force would be forced to improvise when things went wrong or surprises occurred.

Previous Mission: Impossible films, which debuted in 1996, have this same feature. But in the newest installment, IMF leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to improvise more often, more quickly than ever before.

The new film also has a personal angle (an apsect Geller wouldn’t have been fond of) — something the 007 film series has featured constantly since 1989. But for M:I-Fallout, the personal angle doesn’t overwhelm the proceedings.

As a result, Hunt isn’t out for revenge (a la Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Die Another Day and other 007 films). No readings of poems (a la M in Skyfall). No villain with a “personal” connection to the hero (SPECTRE’s new version of Blofeld).

The trailers for Mission: Impossible-Fallout have emphasized that evoke set pieces from 007 movies (Licence to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies). Some fans complain that’s ripping off Bond.

But, in the end, they’re only set pieces and don’t take up that much screen time. What’s more, there are twists involved that weren’t shown in the trailers.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout still is mostly its own thing. It tips its hat to the original show via a Lalo Schifrin-inspired score by Lorne Balfe. It’s not the first time the movie series has embraced Schifrin. Joe Kreamer, composer for 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, also weaved Schifrin into his score. Balfe does it his own way. (CLICK HERE for a feature story Jon Burlingame did for Variety about Balfe’s work.)

Meanwhile, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked on M:I Rogue Nation, keeps things at a frantic pace. The movie has a 147-minute running time. That’s almost as long as SPECTRE’s 148 minutes. But M:I-Fallout, overall, moves more quickly. At the same time, McQuarrie’s movie isn’t just set pieces strung together.

As a fan of the original TV show, I still don’t care for how the first movie in the Cruise series made Jim Phelps into a traitor. At this point, I just have to rationalize the film series is an alternate universe.

At 56, you’ve got to wonder how much longer Cruise can keep the Mission: Impossible film franchise going. But that’s something most viewers won’t think about until after they’re headed home from Mission: Impossible-Fallout. GRADE: A-Minus.

M:I-Fallout director catches flak about composer choice

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram for Mision: Impossible-Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie, director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout, said on Twitter that the composer for the movie will be Lorne Balfe.

The disclosure came after Joe Kraemer, who scored 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, said on Twitter in February he wasn’t asked back for the new film.

This week, McQuarrie invited questions on the social media platform.

After McQuarrie said Balfe was the choice, he got a bit of flak from fans who wanted Kramer to return.

Here is how it played out, beginning with McQuarrie’s initial answer.

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Mission: Impossible-Fallout is scheduled to be out in July.