New James Bond & Friends podcast out

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog participated in episode 005 of the James Bond & Friends podcast, which was posted this week by the MI6 James Bond website.

Here’s a description of the episode:

We discuss the kind of Bond film we are hoping for from (Daniel) Craig and (Cary) Fukunaga, and expectations of a kick-off press conference any day now. Along the way we spoil the plot to several classics, uncover ‘stealth writers’ in our midst, curse local papers’ photo editors, highlight the dangers of impersonating the PM, run into a drag-queen doorman, muse on the leaky nature of past productions, banish Tarantino from the Bondverse, and stumble on a machine learning Bond film.

The other participants on the podcast were James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 website; David Leigh of The James Bond dossier; and author Mark O’Connell.

Bond 25 questions: The Instagram edition

Cary Fukunaga, director for Bond 25

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old saying goes. So it was when Bond 25 Cary Fukunaga was photographed in Matera, Italy, on April 9.

The photo appeared on Instagram the same day. It was posted by Matera Guided Tours, aka “theprofessormiza.”

Naturally with a fan base starved for news about the next 007 film, the photo made the rounds on social media. So naturally, the blog has questions.

Wasn’t principal photography supposed to have been underway by now?

The MI6 James Bond website said Feb. 29 on Twitter that Bond 25 was scheduled to begin filming on April 5 at Pinewood Studios unless another delay occurred. This would have been after several days of filming in Norway in late March.

In the Instagram photo, Fukunaga has no crew with him. It certainly doesn’t look like any filming was underway. Also, according to local Italian press, Bond 25 won’t be filming in Matera until late summer.

So what was Fukunaga doing?

MI6 James Bond said today on Twitter that the director was “in Matera finalizing location details ahead of the planned late summer shoot.” (The tweet also had a detail some might consider a spoiler. I left it out of this post.)

Does the photo really confirm Italy is a location?

It’s reasonable to conclude that’s the case. But it should be noted that no one associated with the film has explicitly said this.

UPDATE (April 10): Matera Guided Tours posted another Instagram photograph — a copy of a local newspaper article (in Italian, of course) about Fukunaga’s visit to the area. It apparently is some kind of scouting/preparation trip.

Bond 25: Corbould returns, villain may be Russian

Veteran special effects man Chris Corbould has said he’ll participate in Bond 25 while the villain of the movie may be Russian, according to separate reports on Tuesday.

Corbould was quoted by The Express about working on Bond 25.

“I can’t remember being so excited about going on to a Bond,” Corbould said, according to The Express. “It’s going to be very, very special.”

Corbould has 007 special effects credits going back to 1987’s The Living Daylights.

The newspaper said Corbould spoke at a “roundtable interview” at the opening of 007 Elements. That facility, a kind of James Bond museum in Austria, opened last week.

“It’s still very early days and we’re still kicking ideas around,” The Express quoted Corbould as saying.

The MI6 James Bond website, which has a relationship with Eon Productions, published details of a Bond 25 casting call.

No character names were included. Parts were a “male leading role” (age range 30s-60s) who’s Russian; a “female leading role” (age range 30-45), also Russian; and a “male supporting role” (age range 35-55) who is “Authoritative, cunning, ruthless & loyal.” That character is a Maori.

It “appears that Bond 25 will feature a Russian male villain, a Russian female (likely be the villain’s partner and a ‘Bond Girl’ part),” MI6 said.

Bond 25, to be directed by Danny Boyle, begins filming in December.

Daniel Craig is seen in a tuxedo and the internet explodes

Daniel Craig was photographed in a tuxedo and the internet exploded. Welcome to Bond 25 pre-production.

The actor, set to play James Bond for a fifth time, was in Cardona, Spain. TMZ rushed out a story saying the appearance “appears to be the start of filming for his fifth 007 flick … and a production assistant clearly wanted to keep it under wraps.”

Except….

The Daily Mail, a tabloid not usually known as the voice of reason, had a different explanation: Filming a Heineken commercial. The paper said Crig was “spotted channeling the spy as he filmed scenes for a new Heineken commercial in Spain on Tuesday.”

A Spanish outlet, Regio 7, had a similar explanation. According to a rough Google translation, Regio 7 said, “The popular English actor Daniel Craig, known for his role as James Bond, has been today in Cardona to participate in the shooting of an announcement by Heineken, according to this newspaper. The City Council, however, explained that it is not ‘authorized’ or to confirm or deny information that was circulated today among the people’s neighbors, who have gathered in different parts of the town.”

Heineken has had a commercial relationship with the 007 film series for some time now. There was a fuss about Heineken’s product placement in Skyfall, although the literary James Bond was known to have a beer now and then.

One tidbit was supplied in a tweet by the MI6 James Bond website. It said that Craig’s contract to play 007 “prohibits him from appearing onscreen in a tuxedo unless approved.”

Regardless, given what happened today, you now have an idea what it’s going to be like until fall 2019, when Bond 25 is scheduled to be released.

Bond 25 talk heats up

Bond 25 may not have an announced director or distributor, but talk about the next 007 film has geared up early this month.

Dec. 2: The Archivo 007 fan website says in a post that Christopher Nolan is “more than likely” to direct Bond 25.

The website said it got the information from two different sources, one from the Untied States and one from the U.K. “They tell us that Nolan will be the director and that he is already working on the film,” according to an English translation of the Spanish website.

–On the message board of the MI6 James Bond website, Archivo 007 was asked about the sources. “One is a film critic with ‘contacts’. The other works in the industry,” Archivo 007 responded. “Sorry, I can’t say much more.”

Dec. 3: Baz Bamigboye, a Daily Mail reporter who has had a number of 007 scoops proven correct since 2011, is asked on Twitter if there’s anything to Nolan and Bond 25.

“He wasn’t doing it when I spoke to him on Friday!” Bamigboye said on Twitter.

Dec. 5: The Express newspaper in the U.K. does a story based on the original Archivo 007 post. Archivo 007 isn’t referenced by name.

–A separate tweet said the word around Pinewood Studios is the Bond 25 operation will get to work in a few months.

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–The MI6 James Bond website ran two stories, one about the Express and Nolan, the other about the Pinewood tidbit.

“MI6 understands that shooting on Bond 25 is still expected to start around December 2018,” the website said in the latter story.

–Bamigboye, on Twitter again, is asked about his earlier tweet and why he spoke to Nolan. “I was interviewing him,” Bamigboye said in a Tweet.

About that lack of a Bond 25 distributor

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Some James Bond fans were sure — just sure — that Global James Bond Day would include a significant announcement about Bond 25.

But, like Linus in the Peanuts comic strip looking forward to seeing the Great Pumpkin, those 007 fans were disappointed. The only Global James Bond Day announcement was a one-day sale of 007 T-shirts at 10 percent off.

Denis Villeneuve being announced as Bond 25’s director? Didn’t happen.

Announcement of Bond 25’s distributor? Didn’t happen.

Until that distributor issue is resolved, Bond 25 can only proceed so far. Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in July announced a U.S. release date of November 2019. But neither has a global distribution operation. MGM needs to cut a deal with somebody who has that capability.

Are such entities interested? Of course. But that distributor likely is going to have to supply a lot of the financing. Sony provided half of the production costs of Skyfall and SPECTRE, but only got 25 percent of the profits. Sony only got a small profit for Skyfall and who knows if it got anything for SPECTRE between higher production outlays and a bit less at the box office.

There was one other bit of Bond-related news on Global James Bond Day 2017. MGM extended the contract for CEO Gary Barber to 2022, according to the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website.

Barber has been gradually improving MGM’s business. But the studio’s biggest asset still remains Agent 007.

As the Twitter feed for the MI6 James Bond website asked, “How about getting on that Bond 25 distribution deal now, Gary?”

Should Roger Moore get a shoutout in Bond 25?

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

On Twitter, the MI6 James Bond website raised an interesting question: Should Bond 25, coming out in 2019, be “dedicated to the memory of Roger Moore’, like TND was for Cubby Broccoli?”

Eon Productions, which produces the 007 films series, has been a bit inconsistent when it comes to on-screen acknowledgements of those who helped make the series what it is.

When GoldenEye came out, following a six-year hiatus, there was no mention of 13-time screenwriter Richard Maibaum or long-time titles designer Maurice Binder.

Maibaum and Binder both died in 1991, during the long stretch when the Bond film franchise lay dormant.

However, special effects and miniatures guru Derek Meddings was mentioned in the end titles. (“To the memory of DEREK MEDDINGS”). This was his first Bond film since 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and he passed away about two months before GoldenEye was released.

The release of 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies occurred after the 1996 death of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, the father of Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and the stepfather of Eon’s Michael G. Wilson. Understandably, this was acknowledged in the end titles (“In loving memory of ALBERT R. “CUBBY’ BROCCOLI”).

Bond 25 is scheduled for a U.S. release of November 2019 (even though, as this is being written, no distribution agreement has been announced). It will be the first 007 film to come out after one of the James Bonds of Eon’s series has passed away.

This may be a relatively minor point. But it remains to be seen whether Roger Moore, who played Bond more than any actor in the Eon series, is acknowledged in the next film adventure.