Bond 25 questions: The mid-year edition

We’re almost halfway through 2019. That’s as good a reason as any for the blog to ask some new questions about Bond 25.

What do you make of the (apparently) discarded title A Reason to Die?

The MI6 James Bond website sniffed out that A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25. But Eon Productions after conferring with its studio partners decided not to proceed with it the night before an April 25 live stream event from Jamaica.

What the blog wonders is why did it take so long to make that decision? Or, put another way, was the live stream event scheduled before said studio partners (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal among them) weighed in?

Back in 2015, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said the production company devises the marketing while the studios executes those plans.

So, was A Reason to Die an Eon initiative? Were MGM (handling U.S. distribution for Bond 25) and Universal (handling international distribution) not in the loop until the last minute? Or was the situation more complicated?

Where did A Reason to Die come from anyway?

Edward Biddulph of the James Bond Memes website wrote on Twitter the title may stem from the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel.

Specifically, in Chapter 5, The Capu, Marc-Ange Draco tells Bond, referring to his daughter Tracy: “Will you help me save this girl? It is my only chance, that you will give her hope. That you will give her a reason to live. Will you?”

Is that a big deal?

It’s hardly the most significant Ian Fleming reference available. Fleming short titles (Risico, The Hildebrand Rarity, The Property of a Lady and 007 in New York) haven’t been used. However, plot elements from Risico were used for 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. Ditto for The Hildebrand Rarity in 1989’s Licence to Kill (plus a passing reference to the name Hildebrand in 2015’s SPECTRE). Also, plot elements from  The Property of a Lady showed up in 1983’s Octopussy.

What’s more, there are chapter titles from the Fleming novels that might be worth considering. Still, veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are known for mining small details from Fleming. They were the first screenwriters on Bond 25. It’s possible A Reason to Die fits their original script.

So what happens next?

When Prince Charles visited the Bond 25 set at Pinewood Studios earlier this month, Daniel Craig told him that filming on the production was about one-third complete.

There’s no teaser trailer yet, although a promotional video was released this week. A teaser trailer may be out sooner than later and we may get a title — A Reason to Die or something else — at that time. As usual, we’ll see.

A Reason to Die was B25’s tentative title, MI6 site says

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25, the MI6 James Bond website said.

The title “was attached to Bond 25 right up until” April 24, the night before a livestream event from Jamaica revealing cast and crew members, the website said.

Eon Productions conferred with its studio partners and A Reason to Die was “considered weak and ‘not Bond enough’ and pulled from the event,” the website reported. “A title treatment had been created.”

Bond 25, due out in April 2020, will be distributed by United Artists Releasing (a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures) in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

MI6 James Bond sent out this tweet on Wednesday night. It includes a red “X” and the April 24 date written in pencil.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Reports based on the tweet alone then surfaced earlier today, including The Express and Esquire UK. The latter said it was skeptical MI6 James Bond was correct.

At the April event in Jamaica, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson only referenced Bond 25. Wilson said he couldn’t remember the last time a Bond film had a title when filming began. A May 5 Haphazard Stuff video contrasted that statement with Eon media events held when filming began on earlier Bond films.

James Bond & Friends looks at the drinks of 007

James Bond & Friends logo

The 007th episode of James Bond & Friends takes on an appropriately epic topic, the drinks of 007. Included is how the literary Bond differs from the film Bond.

Taking the lead in the discussion is David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier. He is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. Here’s a description of the episode:

What were Bond’s drinking habits across the books and how do they differ in the films?

We discuss aspects of James Bond’s drinks and along the way we mull over the loss of local flavour, drinks missing from the films, Bond’s salad dressing recipe, chaining carte blanche’s, following 007’s trail in NYC, substitutions for illusive Kina Lillet (and how they blew a big marketing opportunity), how to mix a perfect Vesper, shaking versus stirring, brandless bourbon, Ian Fleming’s gin, and when eleven is too many. We round out by discussing our favourite real-world Bond locations we’ve visited.

James Page of the MI6 James Bond website hosted. The blog also participated, referencing this 007 mini-tour of New York.

James Bond & Friends discusses 007 actors

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog got to participate in episode 006 of the James Bond & Friends podcast produced by the MI6 James Bond website.

Various topics were discussed, including which films are most indicative for each Bond actor.

Here’s a description of the show. Some of the topics, as you might guess, were a little tongue in cheek:

With all quiet on the Bond 25 front, we assemble a panel to discuss a few timeless topics. Along the way we stumble on baby powder blue romper suits, film franchise formulas, MGM’s 40-year financial slump, more licenced clothing suggestions, ageing 80s tech, clown suits, dated visual effects, drinking on the job, CGI meddling, the Moonrakerization of John Gardner, and a plan to bankrupt the New Zealand government.

The other participants of this edition were: James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 site (which also publishes MI6 Confidential) and David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier.

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.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

–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?”