As 007’s lost year ends, will Eon follow its own advice?

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

As 2016 draws to a close, the future of the film James Bond is a little up in the air.

It’s been a bit of a lost year. No progress toward a finding a studio to release Bond 25. No public announcement about a writer or director. No hint about a release date.

With that in mind, will Eon Productions follow its own advice about how to carry on a film franchise?

On July 31, 2012, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson gave an address about the subject. Among his recommendations:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a “formula for complacency”

 “It’s important to change things, to get ahead of the curve before things taper off,” Wilson said.

In the last week, tabloids in the U.S. and U.K. have come out with studios saying that Eon or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are determined that Daniel Craig’s decade-long reign as 007 continue.

The Page Six feature of the New York Post said Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is producing the off-Broadway play Othello, where Craig plays Iago, to eventually get the actor back for Bond 25. The U.K. Mirror said MGM was “panicked” after not hearing anything from Craig.

If there’s any truth to either (which remains to be seen), it doesn’t appear as if anyone is looking to make a major change.

“Believe in your brand. Cubby Broccoli used to say Bond is the star”

“That means that Bond is bigger than any actor who portrays him,” Wilson said, “and no writer, director or producer is indispensable.”

“It all boils down to don’t be afraid of change”

“The Bond films have been recast six times and each time the series was re-evented,” Wilson said. “Each actor brought out different aspects of the character.”

“We believe story is not an element, the story is a key to a good film.”

The last two Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, included Bond confronting his backstory. They sold a lot of tickets in theaters.

Eon could continue down that path. Perhaps Bond could discover his father wasn’t his actual father. The agent could confront, yet again, a major personal crisis. That could yield many dramatic moments.

Or the filmmakers could change yet again.

If you want to watch Wilson make his comments, the quotes cited here begin after the 11:00 mark:

Caveat Emptor: UK tabloid claims MGM ‘panicking’

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

A British tabloid apparently has decided U.S. tabloids shouldn’t have all the James Bond fun.

The Mirror claims that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives are “panicking” because they can’t get Daniel Craig to respond about whether he’ll be in Bond 25.

Here’s an excerpt, for what it’s worth.

A source said: “Daniel and MGM are currently at a stalemate with him having not spoken to them about Bond.

“They have offered a bigger wage deal, and asked about his filming availability to his reps in 2017, but as yet they have not spoken to Daniel.

“They want Bond 25 out in October 2018, but currently they have no Bond, film dates or knowledge of when that will change.”

What’s more, according to the tabloid, getting a commitment from Craig, 48, is an important part of securing an agreement from Sony Pictures to co-finance the movie.

The Mirror didn’t get into this detail or context. But here goes. MGM is a shadow of its former self. After a 2010 bankruptcy, MGM isn’t big enough to release its own movies. Sony Pictures, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has distributed the past four 007 films.

Sony’s most recent contract expired with SPECTRE. That contract called for Sony to co-finance the 007 movies while only getting 25 percent of the profits.

On Jan. 11, the New York Post’s Page Six gossip site said Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is producing Craig’s current Othello off-Broadway play to encourage the actor to do Bond 25 eventually after a hiatus of performing more serious roles.

And the world goes round and round….

Ritchie may direct live-action Aladdin, THR says

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Guy Ritchie, mentioned as a possible 007 director, is in talks to direct a live-action version of Aladdin, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER said.

The film would be an adaptation of the 1992 animated movie and “will keep many of the musical elements of the original,” according to the entertainment publication/website.

Normally, this wouldn’t be fodder for this blog. However, THE TABLOID MIRROR said last month that Ritchie was “the front runner” to direct Bond 25.

None of this has been officially announced, The Hollywood Reporter has more “street cred” than the Mirror. At the very least, the notion of a Ritchie-directed 007 film is in doubt.

Ritchie was the director and co-screenwriter of 2015’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

As far as Bond 25 is concerned, there is no director, script or confirmed leading man. Daniel Craig, the current 007, said in New York on Friday that not much is happening on Bond 25 because “genuinely everybody is just a bit tired.”

Caveat Empor: Waltz supposedly signed for 2 more Bonds

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

Two days into the New Year, we have the first British tabloid report about the future of 007 films: that Christoph Waltz has signed on for two more Bond films but will only do it if Daniel Craig returns as 007.

This comes via THE MIRROR, which in turn is rewriting another tabloid, The Daily Star. But the story doesn’t appear to be ON THE STAR’S WEBSITE.

Here’s an excerpt from the Mirror’s summary of The Daily Star.

“Christoph could make a brilliant ongoing man for Bond to battle like in the old days,” a source told the Daily Star.

“But the important clincher of it is that Blofeld can only work with Daniel back in the role to keep continuity.”

Up front, it should be noted that while the British tabloids have an often-deserved reputation for being trashy and cutting corners ethically, they’re often right about what they report about developments in 007 land. At least they’re often enough times it’s not just chance.

Example: THE MAIL ON SUNDAY reported in November 2014 that Waltz was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. The publication was proven correct despite various denials by Waltz LIKE THIS ONE, and THIS ONE.

At the same time, there’s an element of P.R. in this latest report, as if the source involved is part of the public relations machinery.

A Bond source said: “Daniel has been a huge success as 007 and is loved by fans so he isn’t going anywhere yet.

“The directors know they would be daft to replace him at a stage where he is so popular. It’s almost certain he will do one more outing as Bond.

And with the potential for Judi Dench to return in flashback form as M, the storyline for Daniel Craig as Bond appears far from over.

The timing of this report also is a little interesting. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which co-owns the 007 franchise, is negotiating with studios interested in releasing and co-financing 007 films. Sony Pictures’ contract expired with SPECTRE.

Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, which makes the Bond movies said last fall he expects Craig to return but that the actor isn’t signed for future installments.

Caveat Emptor: Ritchie floated as Bond 25 director

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Guy Ritchie with Armie Hammer during filming of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in 2013

The British press is floating the idea that Guy Ritchie could be the director of Bond 25.

It began with a story A STORY IN THE MIRROR and then THE STAR JUMPED IN, essentially rewriting the Mirror.

The Mirror story says Ritchie got on the radar screen for Bond 25 following The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie. he directed and co-wrote.

“Insiders say ­execs loved U.N.C.L.E, starring Henry Cavill and based on the TV series created by Bond writer Ian ­Fleming.

“Guy and Bond actor Daniel Craig are believed to be friends too, which could work very much in Guy’s favour .”

A couple of issues with that passage: 1) Ian Fleming didn’t create the television series, though he contributed to the character of Napoleon Solo. 2) Ritchie and Craig “are believed” to be friends? You don’t know? Who believes this anyway?

Also, there’s this quote from the Mirror’s source that suggests none of this is exactly nailed down. “The (U.N.C.L.E.) film had many of the elements associated with 007. Guy created a world of espionage and action with a bit of comedy. He’s the frontrunner for the next Bond movie – for now.”

The magic words, “for now,” indicate no decision is imminent. Meanwhile, the Star’s story waits until the fourth paragraph to indicate the information is from the Mirror.

U.N.C.L.E. lost money despite its modest $75 million production budget. IF Ritchie really is in the running for Bond 25, he wouldn’t necessarily have the strongest bargaining position. He currently has a movie in post-production, Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur, due out in summer 2016.

Mendes again says ‘probably’ no more Bonds

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes has once again said he “probably” won’t again direct a 007 film.

The director gave an interview TO THE BBC, which was SUMMARIZED BY THE MIRROR NEWSPAPER.

“But I do think this is probably it…It was a fantastic life-changing thing, but I don’t think I could go down that road again,” he said in the BBC interview, according to the Mirror. “It’s more a lifestyle choice than a job. You do have to put everything else on hold.”

In the spring of 2013, following 2012’s Skyfall, Mendes said the thought of directing another 007 film “made me physically ill.”

A few months later, it was announced he’d be back to direct Bond 24, later titled SPECTRE.

The new Bond film recently completed filming and is in post-production for release this fall.

To view the entire Mirror article, CLICK HERE. To listen to the BBC interview, CLICK HERE. The SPECTRE comments begin around the 23:15 mark. According to the BBC website, the program is available for listening for a limited time.

Thanks to reader Ricardo Cantoral for the heads up.

UPDATE: Having had a chance to listen to the BBC interview itself, there are these tidbits:

–“This is a bigger movie than Skyfall,” Mendes said. “We shot in more places.”

–There’s 100 minutes of music in SPECTRE, according to the director.

–Ian Fleming “is a great unknowable figure,” Mendes said.

–The title song has been recorded. Mendes provided no additional details.