FWIW: Daily Mail claims Daniel Craig rewriting SPECTRE

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

Presented strictly for entertainment value: The U.K. Daily Mail IN A GOSSIP COLUMN BY SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE posted June 19, claims that SPECTRE star Daniel Craig has been doing some personal rewriting of SPECTRE’s script.

Here’s an excerpt:

I hear that the 47-year-old actor has been rewriting the script of 007’s latest outing, Spectre, even though filming has been going on since December.
‘The script is still all over the place, to the extent that Daniel himself has had a bash at rewriting it,’ says my man with the vodka martinis. ‘It’s total creative turmoil.’

To be clear, the Daily Mail has a journalistic reputation that would be tactfully described as uneven. However, the U.K. publication has published a number of 007 scoops proven to be correct. On the other hand, most of those were written by Baz Bamigboye, who has been MIA (as far as 007 stories are concerned) since SPECTRE went into production Dec. 8.

The only reason we mention this is because SPECTRE has had a dicey scripting process. The first writer was John Logan. Because of the Sony hacking, it’s now known Logan’s initial efforts contained some questionable ideas.

Logan was replaced by 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (something that Bamigboye originally reported last year), with some polishes by playwright by Jez Butterworth.

Also, it should be noted that Craig said in 2011 he and director Marc Forster did uncredited rewrites for 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Marvel Studios and the Cubby Broccoli playbook

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

The Wall Street Journal, in a story by Ben Fritz, takes a look at how Marvel Studios operates. While it doesn’t come up in the story, it sounds like Marvel has read the old Albert R. Broccoli playbook.

Like James Bond movies produced by Broccoli, Marvel makes big, sprawling movies. But, like the Eon Productions co-founder, Marvel doesn’t spend top dollar for everything. Here’s a key excerpt:

But no company has eschewed A-list talent as consistently and effectively in the modern age as Marvel. All but one of its 10 films released so far have been hits, a record rivaled only by Pixar Animation Studios. And none have featured a major star or established action director.

Money is a key reason, say people who have done business with Marvel. The Disney subsidiary’s chief executive, Ike Perlmutter, is notoriously frugal and doesn’t believe that the millions rivals like Warner Bros. spend to get big-name stars like Ben Affleck and Will Smith are worth it.

“They are in the business of hiring the guy who hasn’t had a big success, because they don’t have to pay that guy very much,” said Mr. Whedon, adding that he made more money on his self-produced Internet series “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” than he did directing the first “Avengers,” which cost $230 million to produce and grossed $1.5 billion world-wide.

When Broccoli (first with Harry Saltzman and then on his own) produced 007 films, a formula eventually emerged where the actor playing James Bond would be paid well but Eon didn’t usually pay for A-list actors for other roles. “Regulars” such as Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn were paid relatively modestly.

As directors, Eon would hire journeymen such as Terence Young and Guy Hamilton. Or, with John Glen, promote from within, elevating him to the director’s chair from the second unit.

Marvel isn’t exactly the same, but there are similarities. The Journal describes how Marvel’s approach to talent is to seek out actors on their way up (who don’t cost top dollar yet) or are making a comeback (such as Robert Downey Jr.). There’s a similar strategy with directors, including Joss Whedon (referenced in the excerpt above) and Joe and Anthony Russo.

As we’ve written before, Eon’s strategy has evolved since the Cubby Broccoli days. Bond movies employ more auteur directors (Sam Mendes, Marc Forster) and more expensive actors for at least some roles (Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes).  Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-leaders of Eon, have been putting their own stamp on the series.

In any case, if you want to read the entire Journal story about Marvel, CLICK HERE.

 

Mission: Impossible 5 resumes production

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Mission: Impossible 5 is back in production after a short break to revamp its ending, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY SAID ON ITS WEBSITE.

An excerpt:

EW has confirmed that production on Mission: Impossible 5 halted for one week so that the ending to the film could be reworked. The production, which is shooting in London, has now resumed and is currently in the process of filming the revised ending.

The delay to change the ending was reported earlier by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Director Christopher McQuarrie earlier in the week has said via Twitter the movie hadn’t completed production yet.

None of this would have been a big deal except Paramount moved M:I 5’s release date up to July 31 from Dec. 25. This occurred more or less at the same time the production team concluded the ending needed to be changed.

The M:I movie franchise, featuring star-producer Tom Cruise, has been a financial success for Paramount. The studio has some experience with high wire acts, such as World War Z, directed by Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster, which had a totally changed ending.

The evolution of James Bond movies

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

An exchange with a former colleague prompted us to look back at how James Bond films have evolved the past decade.

Paul Baack, co-founder of the former Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website (and originator of this blog), made the following observation via social media. His quote is presented here with his permission.

“At their best, James Bond movies are factory-made ‘B’ pictures with…’A movie’ polish.”

Ian Fleming’s original novels had a lot of influences. Some of his novels come across as fancier versions of pulp adventure stories. At one time, pulp-like stories were “B” movie fodder while “A” films were more prestigious, adult fare.

The early Bond movies were, indeed, like “B” movies with “A” movie gloss. Even the modestly budgeted Dr. No had Ken Adam-designed sets that made it look more expensive than it really was. Back in September, we posed the questions whether Goldfinger could be considered the first “A-movie” comic book film.

And, whether you consider them a factory product, the movies were controlled by producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and later Broccoli solo. Directors had impact, but Bond films weren’t part of the auteur school of movie making.

Since 2005, when actor Daniel Craig was cast for Casino Royale, the formula changed. The Bond series, in some respects, became “A-movie” dramas with genre-movie action sequences and special effects.

Directors began to exhibit auteur tendencies. Marc Forster had scripts reshaped to fit his “classical four elements” theme of fire, water, earth and air (see HAPHAZARD STUFF’s four-part video review of the film for details). Sam Mendes, with Skyfall, emphasized drama. Example: near the end of the pre-credits sequence, when it appears Bond has been killed, it starts raining outside M’s office. Also, M (Judi Dench) gets to read a poem in a dramatic moment.

Bond directors have yet to get a vanity credit — “A Sam Mendes Film” or “A Film by Sam Mendes”. Still, they do seem to have more control than under the Brocccoli-Saltzman days. With Mendes aboard once more for SPECTRE, that doesn’t look to change.

Meanwhile, the new Bond dramas aren’t inexpensive. Documents hacked from Sony Pictures indicate the new movie’s budget may exceed $300 million, which would make it one of the most expensive movies of all time. That’s not just “A-movie” polish, that’s a warehouse full of “A-movie” polish.

A look back at Quantum of Solace’s publicity

quantum-of-solace-international-poster

Bond 24 is expected to begin filming next month. If tradition holds, that also means they’ll be a press conference for the start of production.

These press conferences primarily are intended to promote the movie. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to take some of what’s said with a few grains of salt.

We came across the video below at HAPHAZARDSTUFF.COM. It’s the first of three (and counting) videos that examine the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace in detail.

We bring it up because in this first installment, we see a lot of footage from the Quantum press conference as well as other press interviews. Some of what the cast and crew said doesn’t, well, quite hold up to scrutiny. For example:

10:42 mark: Daniel Craig says, “We don’t have shaky cameras.”

10:48: Barbara Broccoli says, “It’s not a revenge movie.” (Full quote played around the 1:18 mark, “It’ not a revenge movie, it’s much more complicated than that.”)

10:50: Olga Kurylenko describes her character. “She’s driven by revenge.”

11:10: Director Marc Forester says, “I’ve never seen a Bond film set in a desert.” (Haphazard Stuff uses this opportunity to show desert clips from The Living Daylights and The Spy Who Loved Me.)

11:20: Forester in separate comments from what appears to be the same interview. Comment one: “I can’t think about an audience, making the movie to please them.” Comment two: “It has to be commercially successful.”

Well, you get the point. In any case, fans view these press conferences more as a chance to celebrate a new 007 film starting production.

To access all three Haphazard Stuff videos, CLICK HERE.

Quantum of Solace Review Part One from HaphazardStuff on Vimeo.

Quantum of Solace’s revisionist history continues

quantum-of-solace-international-poster

Marc Forster picked up A CAMERIMAGE AWARD last week in Poland. In AN INTERVIEW with Empire magazine, the subject of Quantum of Solace came up — and Forster’s comments didn’t exactly match up with what he said during production.

Excerpt from Empire:

So after that, Quantum Of Solace must’ve seemed like a walk in the park.
Not quite a walk in the park (laughs). Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are great producers, the best I’ve ever worked with – fantastic. So you have a well-oiled machine and you’re in such good hands, even though you don’t have a script (laughs). It makes it easier, even when you only have half a script. That was the problem there. You had Casino Royale, which came from the best book by Ian Fleming, and three or four years to develop the script. You have Skyfall, another three years to develop a script. We were in the middle – ‘Here, three months, make a movie.’ And as a director you can only do as much as you have on the page.

In that case, why did you take it on?
Because I believed the script would come. But it never did! (Laughs). At one point I felt like pulling out but I didn’t. Barbara and Michael and Eon wanted to make the movie and I thought we’d pull it off.
(emphasis added to Forster quotes)

In 2008, Forster told a much different story to THE ROTTEN TOMATOES WEBSITE. Among other things, Forster said then that the Quantum script was mostly ironed out before a 2007 Writer’s Guild strike. “The good thing is that Paul (Haggis, the screenwriter) and I and Daniel (Craig) all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with.”

In the same interview, Forster said there was a script when he first came on board, but he tossed it out and things started from scratch. Forster said he conferred with Haggis, “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say.”

This, of course, isn’t the first instance or revisionist history with the 2008 James Bond film. Daniel Craig also drastically changed his tune in 2011 compared with what he said in 2008.

The main talking point now is that the 2007 writer’s strike damaged the production and everybody soldiered on as best as they could.

For Forster, that’s convenient because he can ignore his contributions to the problem — throwing out a script and starting over from scratch and his emphasis on “topics” rather than a story.

Forster didn’t specify the topics to Rotton Tomatoes. In another 2008 interview, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, he talked about sneaking political ideas past the Bond producers into the movie. “I question the role that these Secret Service agencies play today—is their role really to protect the country? Or the interest of a few?” Forster told New York five years ago.

Earlier posts:
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE SCRIPT OF QUANTUM OF SOLACE? (December 2011)

DANIEL CRAIG, 2008 AND 2011 VERSIONS (December 2011)

QUANTUM OF SOLACE’S POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW (March 2012)

Quantum of Solace’s 5th anniversary: 007’s Rorschach test

Quantum of Solace's soundtrack

Quantum of Solace’s soundtrack

Quantum of Solace, the 22nd James Bond film that debuted five years ago this month, is like a 007 Rorschach test. Fans have expressed wide-ranging views of the film from a well-acted drama to a mishmash heavily influenced by the Jason Bourne films. Even Star Daniel Craig, in 2011, expressed disappointment in how Quantum turned out.

Quantum may be the most expensive 007 film, with an estimated budget of $230 million and location shooting in several countries. 2012’s Skyfall had an estimated budget of $200 million, obviously still a lot, but the first unit didn’t travel to Shanghai and Macau, with a second unit getting enough footage to make sequences set in those locations work.

During 2012 activities for the 50th anniversary of the Bond film series produced by Eon Productions. But Quantum wasn’t mentioned as much as other films. The Everything Or Nothing documentary included a few clips but Quantum wasn’t examined in detail.

Quantum was billed as a “direct” sequel: publicity stressed the story began moments after the end of 2006’s Casino Royale. Meanwhile, director Marc Forster, IN A 2008 INTERVIEW WITH NEW YORK MAGAZINE talked about how he sneaked political content into the movie past producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

“I had to subversively inject my ideas to make the movie my own,” Forster said in the interview. There was also this passage:

In fact, the director—never a Bond fanatic—is surprised that 007 has survived this long, “especially as a colonialist or imperialistic character. That’s why you have to put a dent in him, because those powers can’t survive. It’s the end of the American world power in the next few decades.”

Paul Rowlands, writing in the Money Into Light Web site, called Quantum one of the most underrated of the series” while also saying the 2008 movie “took the crown of the most controversial Bond film from LICENCE TO KILL (1989).”

A writer’s strike occurred a few months before Quantum was scheduled to go into production. That is usually blamed for problems with the film. However, various accounts later surfaced indicating script problems occurred earlier, including time wasted on a rejected script about Bond’s search for the child of Vesper Lynd.

Quantum’s box office was almost identical to Casino, each having worldwide ticket sales exceeding $590 million. It would be the last 007 films for four years until after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer completed a trip through bankruptcy, leading to 2012’s release of Skyfall.

It remains to be seen whether elements of Quantum, including the villainous organization by that name, will be taken up in future 007 film adventures.

Earlier posts:

MAY 2011: QUANTUM OF SOLACE, A REAPPRAISAL

DECEMBER 2011: DANIEL CRAIG, 2008 AND 2011 VERSIONS

DECEMBER 2011: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE SCRIPT OF QUANTUM OF SOLACE?

Forster’s World War Z scores No. 2 at U.S. box office

Marc Forster while directing Quantum of Solace

Marc Forster while directing Quantum of Solace

The Marc Forster-directed World War Z finished No. 2 at the U.S. box office this weekend, with $66 million in ticket sales, according to the Box Office Mojo Web site. It finished behind Monsters University at $82 million and ahead of Man of Steel, on its second U.S. weekend, at $41.2 million.

World War Z, with Brad Pitt as star and producer, shared some things with the Forster-directed Quantum of Solace: script problems and a high budget. Paramount Pictures, however, unlike Sony Pictures with Quantum, was willing to delay its movie so a new ending could be written and filmed.

World War Z, which concerns a mysterious plague that turns people into fast-moving zombies, cost an estimated $190 million to make, less than Quantum even with the reshoots and more elaborate special effects.

Forster and World War Z initially got some bad publicity about the reshoots (which delayed the film’s release from late 2012), including a VANITY FAIR STORY. But as the movie got released and reviewed, the publicity turned positive, including A SYMPATHETIC STORY ABOUT FORSTER on the Deadline: Hollywood site.

Some unanswered questions about Bond 24

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

It has been more than six months since Skyfall debuted in the U.K. and the 23rd James Bond film is now a home video staple. So is there anything up with the next film, Bond 24?

Probably but mostly there are unanswered questions. Such as:

How’s that director searching going, anyway? Your guess is as good as ours. Skyfall’s Sam Mendes said thanks, but no thanks for an encore.

At this point, the principals of Eon Productions, which produce the Bond films, aren’t tipping their hand, mostly talking about how Skyfall will be a tough act to follow. Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli GAVE AN INTERVIEW TO THE TIMES OF LONDON. It’s mostly behind a paywall, but the MI6 Web site HAS A SUMMARY. One excerpt:

Asked about how they can top the incredible record-breaking $1.1 billion worldwide haul from ‘Skyfall’, Broccoli agreed it will be a tough challenge. “Yeah, it will be very difficult to compete with that film. It’ll be tough. But we’ll try.”

By contrast, when things were developing with Quantum of Solace, word leaked out that Roger Michell had been approached about directing but turned it down. Mendes’s involvement with Skyfall was reported long before it was officially announced. Nothing like that has happened — at least not yet — with Bond 24.

When will Bond 24 come out? Educated guess: Probably not until 2015. If a 2014 release were in the cards, there might be more publicity. But without a director in sight, chances are things aren’t yet that far along. Mendes was officially announced as Skyfall director IN JANUARY 2011 and filming didn’t start until November 2011.

How’s John Logan doing writing the Bond 24 script? There have been some feature stories about a play he has written but, naturally, he’s not commenting in detail about Bond 24. Something to remember: Logan was brought into Skyfall by Mendes, who won’t be around for Bond 24.

What do you mean by that? Well, when Marc Forster was hired to direct Quantum of Solace he wasn’t wowed by the script work that had taken place until then. That doesn’t mean the same thing will happen with Logan and Bond 24. But until a director is hired, fans shouldn’t assume Logan will see Bond 24 through to the end, even if Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer confirmed that Logan was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

Put another way: anybody remember how Eon announced that Peter Morgan was hired to write what would become Skyfall? The man who brought Logan into the world of 007, Mendes, is gone. Things can change quickly in the movie business.

Will Michael G. Wilson, the other Eon co-boss, cut back his workload? Wilson, stepson of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli and half-brother to Barbara Broccoli, is in his early 70s. He has worked on the Bond film series longer than anyone else, even his stepfather. Wilson has commented at various times going back to 1997 about how exhausting making 007 movies can be. We’ll see.

Zombie of Solace

qos21

Stop us if you’ve heard this before.

Vanity Fair has an ONLINE PREVIEW of a cover story involving director Marc Forster, a movie with a huge budget and an underwritten script.

Deja vu all over again? Here’s a preview:

“He took me through how excited he was when he read the book, what was exciting for him, the geopolitical aspect of it,” screenwriter Damon Lindelof tells Vanity Fair contributor Laura M. Holson in the June issue of Vanity Fair of meeting Brad Pitt to discuss the star’s troubled zombie project, World War Z.

(snip)

In her revealing report, Holson also speaks to director Marc Forster and Paramount executives Marc Evans and Adam Goodman about the many problems that plagued the set—which included re-writing and reshooting 40 minutes of the film to find a coherent ending—and, most astonishingly, how the budget ballooned to around $200 million.

Hmmm. Substitute the title Quantum of Solace for World War Z, substitute the figure $230 million for $200 million and substitute multiple writers including Paul Haggis and it sounds like you could be talking about Quantum of Solace, the 2008 James Bond film also directed by Marc Forster. Star Daniel Craig, as Skyfall prepared to start filming, made it sound as if making Quantum wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

If anything, the Vanity Fair story makes it sound like World War Z, despite costing about $30 million less than Quantum, was even more troubled that Forster’s earlier 007 film. One additional excerpt:

When it came time to watch the director’s cut, Holson reports, the room was silent. “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work,” says Evans. “I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.” After 10 minutes of polite discussion, everyone left. “We were going to have long, significant discussions to fix this,” he recalls thinking.