SPECTRE may pass break-even point this weekend

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE may surpass the break-even point this weekend less than a month after its premiere.

Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box-office data said in a tweet that the 24th James Bond movie’s global box office “looks to top” the $670 million mark this weekend.

While only studio accountants know for sure, VARIETY ESTIMATED NOV. 4 that SPECTRE needed $650 million in worldwide box office to break even. Here’s an excerpt from that story:

With a price tag of $250 million, plus more than $100 million in marketing and promotion costs, industry executives predict that the picture will have to do $650 million to break even. That’s because “Spectre’s” backers, a group that includes Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and Eon Productions, will have to split revenues with exhibitors. Fewer than 90 films have ever achieved that gross globally and only one other Bond film, “Skyfall,” has ever surpassed that mark.

Skyfall’s global box office was $1.11 billion. An estimate for SPECTRE’s third weekend in the U.S. and Canada will be released Sunday and the actual figure on Monday.

Here’s the tweet from Exhibitor Relations.

Business of Bond: MGM goes studio shopping

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

What studio will release the next 007 film?

Even as SPECTRE rolls out, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is gearing up its search for the next James Bond distribution deal, according to stories in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD.

Sony Pictures has released the last four 007 films, going back to 2006’s Casino Royale. That deal runs out with SPECTRE.

Here’s an excerpt from the Journal’s story by Ben Fritz:

Several studios are planning to pursue those (distribution) rights, according to people familiar with the matter, even though there is surprisingly little profit in releasing Bond films.

The Journal dug up a Sony document that saw the light of day because of last year’s computer hacking at the studio.

With Skyfall, which had worldwide box office of $1.11 billion, “Sony made just $57 million” on the the 2012 007 film, “a small sum for a movie with such a huge box-office performance,” according to the newspaper.

MGM made about $175 million while the co-bosses of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, made about $109 million, the Journal reported, quoting the same document. MGM and Danjaq, Eon’s holding company, declined to comment to the Journal.

Sony’s take might be even less for SPECTRE, according to the newspaper.

In the same leaked document, a Sony executive projected that if “Spectre” were to cost $250 million to produce and repeat the same box office as “Skyfall,” Sony’s profit would be $38 million.

The budget for “Spectre” is just under $250 million, said a person close to the movie, compared with $209 million for “Skyfall.”

MGM and the Wilson-Broccoli clan co-own the Bond franchise. MGM got its share after it acquired United Artists in the early 1980s. UA, in turn, acquired its stake in Bond when Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman sold it in 1975 because of financial problems.

Despite the relatively small return, other studios are expected to seek to displace Sony as MGM’s 007 distributor.

“Here’s what we hear,” Deadline’s Anity Busch and Mike Fleming Jr. wrote. “007 rights gatekeepers (MGM CEO Gary) Barber, and Wilson and Broccoli, will wait until Spectre plays around the world and accumulates an ungodly global gross that will only strengthen their leverage. And then, early next year, they will make the best deal. If that means bidding farewell to Sony, so be it.”

The Deadline Hollywood story does some handicapping about the prospects for different studios striking a deal with MGM. Busch and Fleming, in particular, play up Warner Bros. as a 007 distribution contender.

The duo write “a source sighted” MGM’s Barber and Warners chief “Kevin Tsujihara at the Montage Hotel recently…According to our source, the chatter seemed more intense than a meet and greet. It looked like they were throwing around numbers. Not surprisingly, Warner Bros has been oft mentioned as the most aggressive in this hunt.”

To read the entire Wall Street Journal story, CLICK HERE. To read the Deadline: Hollywood story, CLICK HERE.

Reading between the lines of THR’s story on MGM and Sony

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

The Hollywood Reporter has A STORY BY GREGG KILDAY examining whether Sony Pictures will no longer release 007 films after SPECTRE. But the story has some other interesting data as well.

Sony has released all four Bond films of the Daniel Craig era, but its current two-film deal expires with SPECTRE. Here’s a look at some of the other side issues raised in the story.

SPECTRE’s budget: Kilday quotes sources he doesn’t identify as insisting “that the final net budget now stands in the neighborhood of $250 million.”

It’s known, thanks to the Sony hacks, that SPECTRE spending was on track to reach around $350 million. The Hollywood Reporter story suggests that production placement and similar deals (such as the subsidies Mexico paid out to the production) helped bring in about $100 million to offset a substantial portion of those costs.

Mind games between studios: There’s also an anecdote in the story about some mind games between Sony and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that controls half of the Bond franchise along with the Broccoli-Wilson family.

According to the story, MGM told Sony in June 2013 if it wanted its name in a press release announcing the release date of the then-untitled movie, Sony had “to opt in immediately.” At the time, there was no firm budget but Sony was being pressed to commit anyway, THR says. (Not mentioned in the story: there wasn’t even a first-draft script. That wasn’t submitted by initial writer John Logan until March 2014.)

The release was issued in JULY 2013.It had this joint quote from Sony executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal: “It’s a privilege to work on the Bond films. EON, John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with an extraordinary follow up to SKYFALL and we, along with our partners at MGM, can’t wait to share this new chapter with audiences all over the world.”

Subsequently, Logan was replaced writing the movie and Pascal was fired after bad publicity from the Sony hacks.

To read the entire Hollywood Reporter story, CLICK HERE.

Caveat Emptor (Cont.): Future 007 films to be set in ’60s?

Jack Lord, Ursula Andress and Sean Connery relaxing on the Dr. No set

Jack Lord, Ursula Andress and Sean Connery during production of Dr. No in 1962

A British tabloid, the Sunday Express, HAS A STORY saying that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer plans future James Bond films to be set in the 1960s.

The change would occur after current 007 Daniel Craig departs the role, according to the story.

The tabloid quotes an MGM executive it didn’t identify as saying, “We’ll go forwards by taking 007 back to the era in which we believe he fits most.” The film series started with 1962’s Dr. No.

If true (a major qualification), such a move would be an even bigger change than 2006’s Casino Royale, which hit the reset button and started the series all over. Even with the reboot, Bond films such as the upcoming SPECTRE continued to be set in the present day, rather than as period pieces.

However, the story hints at the possibility of an even bigger change.

According to the Sunday Express, MGM has asked Matthew Weiner, creator and executive producer of Mad Men, “to head a new team to oversee Bond’s return to his heyday 1960s.”

The story doesn’t mention current 007 producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who’ve headed up the Bond production team since 1995’s GoldenEye. Wilson, 73, and Broccoli, 55, have been involved with the franchise for decades.

What’s more ownership of the 007 franchise is split between the Wilson-Broccoli family and MGM. That’s a pretty major detail that’s not even mentioned in the story. Do Wilson and Broccoli agree with this? It’s a point that’s not addressed at all.

At this point, caveat emptor — let the buyer beware — applies even more than usual with Bond-related items.

Some questions about Daniel Craig’s SPECTRE interview

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, has its premiere later this month. So it’s time to explore new questions about the 007 movie.

Was Time Out London’s interview with Daniel Craig good P.R. or bad P.R.? 

That depends on your public relations philosophy.

Come again?

The classic public relations philosophy stems from a George M. Cohan quote: “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.”

By that standard, Craig’s interview with Tine Out London was a spectacular success.

How so?

The 007 actor’s quotes to Time Out (“I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists” than make another Bond movie, and “If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money,” among others) were summarized widely.

Among other outlets, VARIETY, ITV,  NBC NEWS,  THE TELEGRAPH, THE DAILY BEAST, THE INDEPENDENT, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and many, many others had stories based on the quotes from Time Out London.

If George M. Cohan were still alive (he died in 1942), he would marvel at how right he was.

Are you saying this was really planned?

Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Nevertheless, the Time Out London interview was done a few days after SPECTRE wrapped principal photography.

Often these types of interviews are done under embargo. That is, the interviews occur with the understanding the resulting stories won’t be released until shortly before a movie is released — often with a specific date and time for release.

Put another way, the major parties responsible for SPECTRE — Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures — shouldn’t be surprised these quotes were coming. Interviews with stars for major movies, generally speaking, are done under very controlled circumstances.

Often such interviews are done with a public relations person sitting in on it. Even if it didn’t happen in this case, Eon, MGM and Sony know the star, know what he often says in interviews. If they weren’t prepared, well, they probably should have been.

Our archive of Fleming U.N.C.L.E. correspondence

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

As a footnote to our Oct. 3 post about correspondence related to Ian Fleming’s involvement with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., we’ve put up the text from some of the letters.

You can view that text ON THIS PAGE at our sister site, THE SPY COMMAND FEATURE INDEX.

Most of the letters displayed there are from Felton to Fleming, but one is by the 007 author after he signed away his rights to the television series for 1 British pound.

Also included is the text of the cease-and-desist letter sent by attorneys representing 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, which sought to stop production of the show.

Finally, there’s a 1965 letter from Felton to an MGM executive in England. MGM had been approached about Felton’s availability to help with what would become The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson. In the letter, Felton discusses how his lawyers said not to talk about Fleming at all.

Here we go again: SPECTRE an origin story, Mendes says

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

It’s deja vu all over again.

Sam Mendes, the director of SPECTRE, is quoted in an ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY STORY as saying the 24th James Bond film is an origin story.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The Bond creation myth never happened,” Mendes says. “I felt there was an opportunity there: What made him? And who were the people who affected him along the way? You’re sort of telling the story backwards of how Bond became Bond.”

Nine years ago, Casino Royale, the 21st 007 film and the first to star Daniel Craig, was marketed as an origin story for Bond.

This continued well after its theatrical release. In the United States, the USA cable channel showed the film. USA’s promos had the tagline, “How James became Bond!”

In the Casino Royale novel, author Ian Fleming’s first, Bond already was a veteran agent. The story took place in 1951 (or so we’re told in Fleming’s Goldfinger novel) and Bond had been active as an operative since World War II.

That was then, this is now. “Spectre provides a kind of culmination to the three previous films while developing a backstory that’s been largely unexplored until now,” according to the Entertainment Weekly story.

The main thing that’s changed since Casino Royale is that Danjaq LLC/Eon Productions (the Broccoli-Wilson family entities that control the Bond film rights and produce the films) reached a settlement with the estate of Kevin McClory.

That settlement, reached in 2013, gives Danjaq/Eon (and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, their partner) control of SPECTRE and the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 215 other followers