Bond 26 questions: The (eventual) search for a new Bond

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions were interviewed on a BBC Radio show on Sept. 27. The duo indicated they weren’t in a hurry to find a successor for Daniel Craig as James Bond.

“We’re not thinking about it at all,” Broccoli said, according to a Variety summary of the interview. “We want Daniel to have his time of celebration. Next year we’ll start thinking about the future.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

How seriously should we take these remarks?

In general, a CEO always is supposed to be thinking about the future. Barbara Broccoli certainly qualifies as a CEO.

On the one hand, there are signs that Broccoli has at least thought about a post-Craig future for Eon’s Bond film series.

No Time To Die director Cary Fukunaga told Total Film that he had a meeting with Broccoli before he was named to helm the 25th James Bond film.

“At that point Daniel said he wasn’t doing another one, so we spit-balled all the potential new Bonds – that was exciting,” Fukunaga said in that interview.

On the other hand, there are signs that Broccoli is really, really reluctant to let go of Craig. “I’m sort of in denial,” she said in the BBC interview. “I would love for Daniel to continue forever.”

Personally, I take her at her word. She is not anxious to move on from Craig.

Will the search (whenever it starts) be complicated?

Searching for a Bond actor is never easy. The next search will have additional complications.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. But that deal hasn’t been completed and is subject to regulatory review.

It remains to be seen what Amazon will do with MGM assuming the deal goes through. Eon likes some current MGM film executives and has lobbied for Amazon to keep them on board.

Regardless, assuming Amazon completes the deal, that will be an additional piece of complication.

What’s more, Eon has its own issues. Wilson turns 80 next year. There are popular fan theories that he may retire after No Time to Die. Who knows whether that’ll be the case. Still a new Bond isn’t the only succession issue facing Eon.

No Time to Die becomes reality this week

No Time to Die teaser poster

After an almost six-year wait, the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions becomes a reality this week.

No Time to Die, after many, many hiccups (to put it kindly), will be seen by its first audiences this week.

The official premiere is Sept. 28 in London. There will be other showings in other countries. At long last, Daniel Craig’s Bond farewell will be seen by audiences.

The project was announced on July 24, 2017, with no distributor, no director, and even no star. The only creative crew attached were writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Daniel Craig, who had starred in the previous four Bond films, finally said on the Aug. 15, 2017 telecast of The Late Show on CBS that he was coming back. Earlier in the day, in radio station interviews, he claimed nothing had been decided.

“No decision has been made at the moment,” Craig told Magic 106.7 at the time. “There’s a lot of noise out there. Nothing official has been confirmed. I’m not like holding out for more money or doing anything like that.”

Since then, the radio stations took down the original links to the interviews. Evidently, radio stations are low on the media totem pole and there are no problems with lying to them.

No Time to Die (as the movie eventually would be titled) went through many rewrites. Besides Purvis and Wade, the likes of Scott Z. Burns, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and director Cary Fukunaga took a whirl at the script.

Also don’t forget for a time that John Hodge was supposed to be the main writer. He and Danny Boyle, the first announced director, had pitched an idea. A script in development for a year was set aside when Boyle and Hodge (supposedly) had a great idea that wowed Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio.

Then, all of a sudden, the Boyle-Hodge take was found wanting. Members of FOE (Friends of Eon) tried to reassure fans everything was still on track.

Except it wasn’t. The original fall 2019 release date got pushed back to February 2020 and then April 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused further delays. Fall 2020. Spring 2021. Finally, the impending fall 2021 dates.

Nevertheless, Bond is a hard man to put down. Bond never conquered COVID. But he’s coming out this week in the U.K. (and elsewhere) as well as North America next week.

No Time to Die was conceived during the pre-pandemic era. That’s when expensive movies were brought out by studios. If audiences liked them, a box office of $1 billion was possible. No Time to Die, which had production spending approaching $300 million, sought that target.

The new Bond film is coming out in a new world. Maximum movie box office achievement is well below $1 billion.

Maybe Bond can change that. But, personally, I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Regardless, Bond fans are excited. And they should be. The gentlemen agent is back after a long hiatus.

Will this be a “cinematic masterpiece” in the words of Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli? That’s up to the audience.

The fact is, the audience finally gets a chance to judge. The hype is over. Let’s see how it goes.

THR: Boyle’s Bond 25 was more whimsical

Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of No Time to Die

Danny Boyle, the original director for Bond 25, had in mind a project that was “more tongue-in-cheek and whimsical,” The Hollywood Reporter said today in a feature story about Cary Fukunaga, who ended up helming the 25th James Bond movie.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “wanted something more serious” for actor Daniel Craig’s final turn as Bond, according to the entertainment news outlet.

After Boyle’s departure, Fukunaga told THR, “I emailed Barbara and was like, ‘Is there a chance to talk about this?’ She responded right away, and we set up a meeting the next week. I didn’t have a pitch or anything, just asked them what they’re after and what wasn’t working.”

This raises all sorts of questions. In 2018, Eon put aside a script it had been developing after Boyle pitched a supposedly great idea that wowed Eon and executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In May 2018, it was announced Boyle was directing with John Hodge doing the script.

The main question is did Eon and MGM vet Boyle and Hodge and the great idea? Boyle apparently did not vet how Eon works.

In the article, Fukunaga is credited with suggesting Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a writer for No Time to Die, Bond 25’s eventual title.

GoldenEye screenwriter talks about the 1995 move

GoldenEye’s poster

The SpyHards podcast conducted an interview with Jeffrey Caine, one of the screenwriters on GoldenEye.

Caine was one of three writers who received some form of credit for the 1995 James Bond film that marked the return of James Bond to the big screen after a six-year hiatus. The other credited screenwriters were Michael France and Bruce Feirstein. Kevin Wade did uncredited work on the script.

Here are some of the highlights from the interview:.

Caine discusses the differences between Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli

Caine says Wilson wanted to work in stunts first and write a story around them. Caine felt you should write a story and insert stunts.

How it turned out:

“I sort of got my way because Barbara (Broccoli) took my side.”

The scribe’s view of the cinematic Bonds actors:

Caine says Daniel Craig has the toughness but not the suaveness while Roger Moore has the suaveness but not the toughness. Caine liked Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan better

About the change with M in GoldenEye:

Caine says he drafts didn’t have a woman M (who would be played by Judi Dench). That took place after writer Bruce Feirstein took over.

To listen to the entire interview on the SpyHards podcast, CLICK HERE.

Broccoli, Wilson discuss Bond’s future (a bit)

No Time to Die logo

The Sunday Times, one of press baron Rupert Murdoch’s “respectable” publications (as opposed to his tabloids), published a big story about the saga of No Time to Die. Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson talk a bit about the future of the cinematic James Bond.

Wilson, 79, told the newspaper that the way star Daniel Craig has played the part of Bond since 2006’s Casino Royale may carry over in the future.

“Daniel’s made an indelible impression,” Wilson told The Sunday Times. “So it’s inevitable that what he brought will be, in some way, incorporated.”

At the same time, both Wilson and his half-sibling, 61, left themselves some wiggle room.

Concerning potential future Bond actors, Wilson added: “We don’t have any frontrunners — we haven’t even thought about it — but whoever it is will take on the role and adapt the character to their personality. It’s always been the case.”

Here was Broccoli’s take:

“It’s a big decision for us because we’re entering into a partnership with an actor,” the Eon boss told The Sunday Times.

“It’s not like casting a movie when you find the best actor at the time — it’s about resetting the whole template for the movies to come. So it’s not just about what colour hair an actor has and if they fit a certain type — it’s about where you want to take the movies and what you want to say. And we have to make that decision. We’re not going to make it based on polls.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. Broccoli avoided specifics how that $8.45 billion deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, could affect Bond’s future.

 “The truth is we don’t know,” Broccoli told The Sunday Times. “Until the deal is approved and we are able to get into deep discussions with them we don’t know. At the moment we’re not really any more enlightened about what they want to do and how they see things and how we fit in.”

The article goes over a lot of No Time to Die history many fans are familiar with. For example, the Danny Boyle saga, his departure as director, the hiring of Cary Fukunaga as Boyle’s replacement as director and the uncertainty, for a time, whether Craig would come back for a fifth Bond film. Craig also has a number of quotes where he had f-bombs in his quotes, but they’re cleaned up.

The Sunday Times piece also is full of Bond-related puns such as sub-headlines that read “Never Say Never — Again!” “Doctor Oh No,” “From China with Love,” and “Die? Another Day.”

The story is behind a paywall except for a short preview.

No Time to Die: An eventful week

No Time to Die poster

This week had to be one of the most eventful weeks related to No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film.

The premiere of a 45-minute documentary. The return of an official No Time to Die podcast series. The leader of Eon Productions making an over-the-top boast. The first tickets going on sale.

After five delays (two because of a change of director, three because of COVID-19), the die seems to be cast. Daniel Craig’s finale as James Bond, wrapping up more than 15 years as the incumbent cinematic Bond, is on the horizon.

Here are some highlights:

–Being James Bond, the documentary about Craig’s tenure as Bond, debuted on Apple TV. Many fans got emotional, going to social media to express how they felt.

I read a lot of these testimonials. They were honest and sincere. And it’s not hard to figure out why. Craig was first cast in 2005. For people younger than 35, Daniel Craig is the Bond they know best. Even if you’re not a fan of Craig/Bond, you have to respect something like that.

–The official No Time to Die podcast returned after a hiatus of almost a year. The podcast began in September 2020 but abruptly shut down after another COVID-related delayed.

The first episode was an expanded version of one that first went out a year ago. The revised episode began with a discussion with Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson.

Broccoli didn’t undersell the (not so) new Bond film. No Time to Die, she said, “is a cinematic masterpiece.”

The movie world is full of hype. But “cinematic masterpiece” are loaded words. Broccoli is doubling, tripling (or more) down. She clearly has an attachment to Daniel Craig that goes beyond the normal movie hype.

–Today, Friday, Sept. 10, was a rush for those in the U.K. who sought tickets for the Sept. 28 premiere at Royal Albert Hall. Social media saw testimonials from those who attempted and the few who got tickets.

It wasn’t perfect. For example, the coordination between No Time to Die social media didn’t mesh with a new U.S. NTTD spot that debuted late on Sept. 9.

Still, it was a big week for Bond fans.

No Time to Die podcast returns

The official No Time to Die podcast returned Wednesday evening U.S. time. The podcast began in September 2020 but went into hibernation after the movie’s release was pushed back into 2021.

The first two episodes are online. The first, Bond in Context leads off with a discussion about how the 25th James Bond film has been delayed three times because of COVID-19. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions are interviewed about that subject.

Also, “You can also be the first to hear exclusive score from Hans Zimmer released by Decca Records,” according to the episode’s description. The episode runs 44 minutes.

The second episode is titled A Name to Die for: Allies and Enemies of Bond.

“Led by interviews from Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw and Lashana Lynch, we’ll explore what makes a classic supporting character and look back at some of 007’s most iconic nemeses,” according to a description.

James King is the host.

UPDATE: In episode 1, Barbara Broccoli says No Time “is a cinematic masterpiece.” We’ve all heard hype for movies but those are strong words.

Being James Bond documentary debuts

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

No trailers either about the documentary or No Time to Die.

The Being James Bond documentary about Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond debuted on Sept. 7 on Apple TV.

This post isn’t a review. It’s the most basic description of the 45-minute program.

The format is pretty simple. The audio consists of Craig chatting with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions while film clips and behind-the-scenes footage of the actor’s Bond movies are shown.

There are a few tidbits mentioned. Broccoli and Wilson discuss Quantum of Solace’s scripting process. “Filming without a script is never a good idea,” Broccoli says. “I look back at the movie and it’s still a good movie.”

The closes thing there is a spoiler to No Time to Die is a 19-second clip of what was apparently Craig’s last scene as Bond.

Craig/Bond fans will love it. Craig/Bond detractors won’t like it. So it goes.

Being James Bond is scheduled to be shown on Apple TV through Oct. 7.

Bond 25 questions: The unanswered questions edition

Scott Z. Burns

With the debut of the final U.S. and international trailers for No Time to Die, a majority of James Bond fans are jacked up. It’s less than a month before the world premiere.

Admittedly, the blog’s attention is wondering to unanswered questions — which may never be answered. So here goes.

What did Scott Z. Burns contribute to the script? Burns is a high-priced “script doctor” who brought in to work on the script a few months before filming began.

Eon Productions briefly referenced Burns’ participation. Here was a tweet from Eon’s official James Bond feed on Twitter on April 25, 2019.

However, after the Writer’s Guild of America weighed in, Burns was out. Burns is highly paid. It’s doubtful the scribe did nothing.

How much of the score *really* is by Hans Zimmer and how much is by Steve Mazzaro (and others)?

In the advertising materials, we’re told, “Music by Hans Zimmer.” But Zimmer is on record that his colleague Steve Mazzaro did a lot of the work and should get top billing on the music credit. Of course, Zimmer is more of a brand than a composer. Most fans will ignore this, but the blog remains interested.

Why was Dan Romer, the original No Time to Die composer, sent packing?

Romer had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on other projects. Romer was listed as No Time to Die’s composer for a time. Then, all of a sudden, his name was gone. Zimmer’s name was his place.

The conventional wisdom is that Romer’s work was too “out there.” OK, but what does that mean? For that matter, is Zimmer & Co.’s replacement score truly a “Bond” score, a la John Barry, or is it a typical Zimmer piece of work?

How much input did Eon’s Michael G. Wilson have with No Time to Die?

For the better part of a decade, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has been depicted as *the* leader of the Eon effort. Her half-brother, 18 years her senior, doesn’t get mentioned that much.

Is that true? Is he just collecting a paycheck? Is he taking it easy these days. Or did he make significant contributions to the project.

Questions, questions.

Bond 25 questions: The marketing & box office edition

No Time to Die logo

We’re a month away from No Time to Die being released in the U.K. It appears the 25th James Bond film is done with delays and ready to confront the COVID-19 pandemic head on. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What’s the movie’s global box office going to be?

In the pandemic era, the movie with the largest global box office total is F9: The Fast Saga at about $704 million. Can No Time to Die match or exceed that? Naturally, Bond fans think so. But box office totals depend on more than hard-core fans.

What are the marketing dynamics?

To begin with, it’s a three-headed monster.

–You have Eon Productions, which makes the movies. Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said in 2015 that the company really manages the marketing. The distributors just execute Eon’s plan.

“We create it, they execute it,” Wilson said at that time.

–You have Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, which foots the bills. No Time to Die is being distributed in North America by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture of MGM and Annapurna Pictures.

–You have Universal, which is distributing the film internationally. Supposedly, Universal was selected because of its track record, which included turning The Fast and the Furious series into a $1 billion per film juggernaut per film prior to COVID-19. In that case, Universal ran the whole show. Now it’s dealing with another studio and a strong-willed production company.

On Aug. 24, Vulture, the arts website of New York magazine, had a story about the difficulty in scheduling movies amid COVID-19. It quoted someone it identified only as ” a person with knowledge of business practices at Eon.

“They’ve lost so much money by moving [No Time to Die]; the marketing has gotten stale,” this person says. “The Broccolis care more about the U.K. than anything — making it a big hit in the U.K., a decent hit in the U.S. and the rest of the world.” (emphasis added)

If true, it’d be interesting to know what MGM/United Artists Releasing thinks about that. It’d also be interesting to get the view of Universal, responsible for a lot more than just the U.K.

Anything to be on the lookout for?

The marketing is gearing up. Some commercials have run recently. Assuming there isn’t another delay (there have been five to date), we’ll be getting to judge the marketing efforts for ourselves.