Daniel Craig’s 007 economics 101

By this point, most James Bond fans are tired about reading about the Heineken product-placement deal with Skyfall and, based on recent remarks, it appears Daniel Craig is, too. But the Skyfall star may have provided a small lesson on the economics of James Bond movies.

Daniel Craig: teacher of 007 movie economics for a day


Craig, as part of a publicity blitz, spoke to the U.K. edition of the Huffington Post and the U.S. Moviefone Web site (both are part of AOL and carried the same story). In THAT INTERVIEW the Skyfall star said the following:

“We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie. The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is…This movie costs a lot of money to make, it costs as nearly as much again if not more to promote, so we go where we can. (emphasis added)

That’s not a lot of detail and others in the movie business have said similar things for a long time. However, it’s more detail than the makers of 007 movies get into. Usually they say it costs a lot and let it go at that.

So let’s take a look at how this rough calculation applied to the most recent Bond film, 2008′s Quantum of Solace. That movie had a reported budget of $230 million. To keep the math easy, let’s double that figure to add in the promotional costs. That gets you to $460 million.

Quantum’s woroldwide box office was just shy of $592 million, the second-best ever gross for the 50-year series. Now, that’s in unadjusted dollars. Then again, studios don’t deal in adjusted dollars; they deal with box office in the hear and now. Anyway, sounds like Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer must have done OK, after all that’s more than $130 million than the combined production-promotional cost.

Except, the studios didn’t keep all that $592 million. Theaters got a cut; typically, that’s tiny at the start and becomes more the longer a movie plays. Also, while the details aren’t public, the studios had to split whatever profits there were with Eon Productions, which controls half the 007 franchise and actually produces the films.

We don’t pretend to know the final figures, but the profit, if any, may have been relatively small for Sony and MGM. Last month, MGM disclosed it lost money on The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, also starring Craig, which had a $100 million production budget (and presumably similar sized outlay for promtion) with a worldwide box office of $231 million. Like both Quantum of Skyfall, that was a joint Sony/MGM deal.

Looking ahead to Skyfall, Eon co-bosses Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in November there had been no budget cuts for Skyfall. If Skyfall’s budget matches the reported $230 million budget of Skyfall, that would also be a combined $460 million production and promotional cost. Skyfall would need to at least match Quantum’s box office for it not to be viewed as a disappointment.

Thus, product-placement deals — and the Bond series is hardly a stranger to them — are a way to hedge bets. That’s especially true for Skyfall, where Sony is having financial troubles and MGM emerged from bankruptcy not that long ago.

Fans may think James Bond will go on forever and that product-placement deals are a nuisance. And yes, there are other sources of revenue (though falling prices for DVDs are eating into that). Still, Daniel Craig lifted the veil just a tiny bit on a more complicated financial picture.

U.N.C.L.E. movie still a go, Soderbergh says

The film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is still proceeding even after potential star George Clooney exited the project, director Steven Soderbergh said in an interview with the Moviefone Web site.

An excerpt of a Soderbergh answer (the interview was presented in a Q&A format:

Scott Burns wrote a great script and everybody wants to continue. I’m sure that’s a classic example of, “Well, if Clooney’s not doing it, then it must mean blah, blah, blah. I mean, he and Steven are friends, so the script must be really bad! Has Steven done one of these things where he’s gone off on a tangent and it’s too crazy?” All that sh*t. As often the case in these situations, the truth is a little more prosaic. It’s just a movie and it wasn’t a risk worth taking.

Regarding Clooney’s possible participation, Soderbergh also said the following:

To be honest, this was all predicated on him looking at the script and determining whether, physically, it was going to be a problem for him. He was very seriously injured on ‘Syriana.’ The guy had fluid leaking out of his spinal column. And from the beginning when we started talking about it, that was part of the discussion. Having been one of the producers on that movie and him being a friend, in addition to a colleague, I don’t want to be the guy responsible for him reinjuring himself.

And we got the script to him and he said, “Look, I’ve got real concerns about this.” From scene one, it’s the kind of stuff that he really needs to be careful about. And, believe me, it’s not… We want to make another movie together and that was frustrating – for both of us. But it just became clear that it’s just too risky.

To read, the entire interview, much of wish deals with his new movie, Contagion, CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, the Digital Spy Web site has a post where U.N.C.L.E. screenwriter Burns says Clooney apologized for having to pull out of the movie.

Finally, one other note. We did a little snooping on our own. via the Register.com Web site. Warner Bros. registered themanfromuncle.com as a domain name back on Dec. 9, 2004 and it expires on Dec. 9, 2012. The record was last updated on July 26, 2011. Is that significant? Hard to tell.

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